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Chestnut Lamprey


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ichthyomyzon castaneus

CHARACTERISTICS: The dorsal fin is slightly notched but is not divided into two distinct fins. In live individuals, the expanded oral disc is as wide as or wider than the head. Teeth—two or three supraorals and four or five bicuspid teeth on each side of the oral opening—are large and well developed. On the trunk, myomeres between the last gill opening and the anus number from 49 to 56. Lateral line organs on the head and ventral side are black. Color differences between chestnut and Ohio lampreys are discussed under characteristics for Ohio lamprey, Ichthyomyzon bdellium. See Girard (1885a) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 8 to 14 in (203 to 356 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Rohde and Lantrigne-Courchene (1978a) map chestnut lampreys at two locations in the Tennessee River drainage in Alabama and at nine localities in the Mobile basin. Mayden et al. (1989) expand the number of Mobile basin localities to 17. From 1991 to 1993, we collected individuals at 13 new stations in the Tennessee River drainage. During the same period, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division collected individuals at two new locations in the Cahaba River. The collection of a single individual form the mouth of Pursley creek is the first occurrence of this species below the Fall Line and in the Alabama River system.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Chestnut lampreys usually inhabit rivers, reservoirs, and medium or large streams. We collected several free-swimming individuals; those in the parasitic mode were attached to carp and buffalo. Adults begin migrating into smaller streams in February and spawn in April or May. Spawning behavior is described in the Lampreys family introduction. The larval stage lasts for two or three years.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Girard described the chestnut lamprey in 1858.

Ichthy means fish.
Myzon means sucking.
Castaneus means chestnut, referring to body color.

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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