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American Brook Lamprey


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lampetra appendix

CHARACTERISTICS: The high dorsal fin is deeply divided into two distinct parts. On live individuals, the expanded oral disc is about as wide as the head. Two large supraorals teeth are found above the oral opening, and three bicuspid teeth are located on either side. Unlike other lamprey species, whose teeth radiate around the oral opening, the American brook lamprey’s remaining teeth occur in small clusters. Myomeres between the last gill opening and the anus usually number from 64 to 75. The back is medium to dark blue-gray, shading to light gray or cream on the venter.

ADULT SIZE: 5.9 to 7.9 in (150 to 200 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: In Alabama, this species is recorded from only four localities in two Tennessee River tributaries. Wall (1968) collected 28 specimens in Little Bear Creek in 1966. We collected individuals just downstream of his station and also in Cedar Creek. The only other collection came from French Mill Creek, a tributary to Piney Creek in eastern Limestone County.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The American brook lamprey occurs in small to medium streams. Individuals seem to prefer clean gravel substrates and fast currents. Seagle and Nagel (1982) report a spawning in March in northeastern Tennessee, while Etnier and Starnes (1993) cite a spawning in early April in Citico Creek. Seagle and Nagel (1982) estimate that the larval stage lasts five or six years. Transformed adults usually spawn the next spring and die soon afterward.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: DeKay described the American brook lamprey in 1842.

Lampetra means sucker of stones.
Appendix means appendage, possibly referring to the tubular process emerging from the vent of this and other lampreys.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division protects this fish from capture or possession.

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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