Video Series: Grunt Sculpin

Can you believe this is our 5th video already? Amazing how time swims. This weeks video features the charismatic Grunt Sculpin, Who is just as curious about you, as you are of them.


Fun facts about Grunt Sculpins:

Why are they called Grunt Sculpins?

Grunt Sculpins get their name from their curious habit of producing faint vibrations when they feel threatened. Some claim that these vibrations actually produce a noise that faintly resembles a grunt!

Others suggest that their resemblance to pigs gives them their name.


Are Grunt Sculpins difficult to care for?

Grunt Sculpins are very easy to care for, or at least they are once you have a fully operating cold water aquarium system! Often the most difficult aspect of caring for wild sea life is meeting their dietary requirements. Luckily, Grunt Sculpins will eat any portion of food that fits in their tiny mouths.

They do have some additional needs to be met. For instance they need to be provided with shelter in the form of empty Giant Acorn Barnacle shells.

Grunt Sculpins often breed in captivity when they are featured in groups! This is a common occurrence at the Salish Sea Center in Sidney. The Grunt Sculpin spawns in late August/early September, right around when our animals are released for the season, so we have yet to experience a breeding event at the Discovery Passage Aquarium.

What kind of fish is the Grunt Sculpin?

There is only one single species of Grunt Sculpin in the world, and it belongs to its own family of fish! Despite their name, they are only ‘closely’ related to the Sculpin family. A misnomer of this species is the ‘Northern Seahorse’, due to its resemblance to members of the Seahorse family.

Why there is only one species of Grunt Sculpin remains a mystery.

Why do Grunt Sculpins hide in Giant Acorn Barnacle Shells?

Grunt Sculpins use empty barnacle shells as a shelter to hide from their predators and care for their eggs.

The Grunt Sculpin and Giant Acorn Barnacle shell fit together like a lock and a key. The body and colour of these fish have evolved specifically to fit inside of these shells, and resemble a living barnacle once they are inside!

The head of a Grunt Sculpin is shaped specifically to resemble a barnacle when they poke their heads out into the water column. If they need to blend in with nearby living barnacles even further, they can turn around and fan their fins outside of the shell; this behaviour resembles a barnacle that is feeding!

Of course, this elaborate ruse is designed to camouflage them from their predators, which include Lingcod and large Rockfishes.

How do Grunt Sculpins reproduce?

Female Grunt Sculpins are aggressive. When they are ready to mate, they will chase down a male Grunt Sculpin into a barnacle shell or crevice of their choosing, hold them hostage, and lay their eggs inside of the shell. At this point, the male has no choice but to care for the batch of eggs. The new mother and father will take turns hunting for food, while the other keeps watch over the eggs from the safety of the nest.

Weekly Video Series Activities!

We have a colouring page drawn specifically for this week! You can find the Grunt Sculpin colouring page at the link below. Send us your completed colouring page and win a day pass to the Aquarium for when we re-open!

Send us your completed colouring page by email at:

Or tag us in your Instagram Post: @DPAquarium #DPAquarium

Or send it to us in a message on Facebook: DiscoveryPassageAquarium

Be sure to do so before 10:00AM, Monday, May 11th so we can feature you on our Monday social media posts!

Click here for the colouring sheet!

Click here to learn about Puget Sound King Crab shells!

Click here to learn about Sunflower Stars!

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