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Snailfish
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Scientific Name Liparidae
Conservation Status Data Defficient
Family Chordata
Habitat North Pacific
Food Small Crustaceans, Mollusks, Worms


Snailfishes are scorpaeniform marine fish of the family Liparidae. Widely distributed from the Arctic to Antarctic Oceans including the northern Pacific, the snailfish family contains approximately 23 genera and 195 species. They are closely related to the sculpins of the Cottidae family and the lumpfish of the Cyclopteridae family. Snailfish are sometimes included within the latter family.

The habitats chosen by snailfish are as widely variable as their size; they are found in both shallow intertidal zones and at depths of 7,500 metres (25,000 ft) or more, in both cold and warm waters. The diminutive inquiline snailfish (Liparis inquilinus) of the northwestern Atlantic is known to live out its life inside the mantle cavity of the scallop Placopecten magellanicus. The kelp snailfish (Liparis tunicatus) lives amongst the kelp forests of the Bering Strait and the estuary of the St. Lawrence River. Other species are found on muddy or silty bottoms of continental slopes. Snailfish are abundant in most (especially polar) waters and are highly resilient.

The diet of snailfish consists primarily of small benthic crustaceans, mollusks, polychaete worms, and other small invertebrates. Some species are also piscivorous. Specialist species such as Paraliparis rosaceus feed exclusively on sea cucumbers.

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