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Eli’s Fish Facts - Skilletfish

Gobiesox strumosus

Skilletfish are one of the smallest and strangest-looking fish we have in the Hudson River. Only growing to about 3 inches, skilletfish are shaped like a frying pan, hence the name, and have two fused pelvic fins on the bottoms of their bodies that create a suction against hard surfaces. This makes skilletfish a great fish for a display aquarium, because they will often suction straight onto the glass. In the wild, skilletfish often latch onto oyster shells, giving them a second nickname of the oyster clingfish. Skilletfish are a species that is closely associated with oyster reefs, and though they likely have been living in the Hudson River for centuries (maybe even millenia), the first fish of its kind to be caught and identified by Hudson River scientists was in 2011, at The River Project in lower Manhattan. 

Skilletfish have a wide mouth, fleshy lips, and strong teeth, with mottled flesh, likening them to gobies or even oyster toadfish, though they are genetically very different than both. Similar to the toadfish, however, the males guard their fertilized eggs until they hatch. We generally don’t catch them as far north as Yonkers, though we received our skilletfish from our friends at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which can be seen whenever CURB is open.