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Ohio Lamprey


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ichthyomyzon bdellium

CHARACTERISTICS: Because the Ohio and chestnut lampreys share so many physical features, they are difficult to distinguish (Burr, 1980; Jenkins and Burkhead, 1993). Hubbs and Trautman (1937) report 53 to 62 myomeres between the last gill slit and the anus on specimens of Ichthyomyzon bdellium (54 on one specimen from Alabama) and 49 to 56 myomeres on I. castaneus. The Ohio lampreys we collected in Alabama were intermediate in myomere count, ranging from 52 to 56. Page and Burr (1991) suggest that body and fin colors are useful in distinguishing the two species. Live individuals of I. bdellium have blue to slate gray backs, white to mottled gray venters, and gray fins. Live individuals of I. castaneus have yellow to tan backs and venters and yellow-olive fins. More study is needed to resolve the uncertainties in identifying Southern populations of Ohio and chestnut lampreys. See Jordan (1885a) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 6 to 12 in (152 to 300 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Rohde and Lantrigne-Courchene (1979) mapped four collection localities for Ohio lampreys in Alabama. From 1991 to 1993, we collected individuals at seven new localities-three in the Elk River, three in the Paint Rock River, and one in the Flint River. Future sampling will undoubtedly increase this species’ known range in the Tennessee River drainage and may provide more insight into its life history in Alabama.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Adult Ohio lampreys are normally found in medium or large streams or in small rivers with moderate to slow currents and debris or gravel and sand substrates. They infrequently inhabit small streams. Most of the Ohio lampreys we have collected were parasitizing carp, but we also found one attached to the snout of a longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus, and several more attached to the heads and shoulders of smallmouth buffalo, Ictiobus bubalus. Little is known of the life history of the Ohio lamprey in Alabama. General spawning activities are described in the Lampreys family introduction. Rohde and Lantrigne-Courchene (1979) report that the larval stage lasts for up to four years.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Jordan described the Ohio lamprey in 1885.

Ichthy means fish.
Myzon means sucking.
Bdello means leech, in Greek.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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