A pair of bizarre-looking lumpsucker fish have been caught by local fishermen and taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Hastings.
The fish – a male and a female – were discovered in the fishermen’s nets and kept safe until the boat returned to shore.
The fishermen then brought them into the aquarium where they were looked after in quarantine before going on public display.
It’s now hoped the fish, which are both adults, will eventually start to breed and produce eggs of their own.
Blue Reef’s Chris Ireland said: “Lumpsuckers get their name from specially adapted pelvic fins on their bellies which form a suction cup
“They’ve been described as one of the marine world’s least graceful fish and they certainly look strange with their scaleless blue-green skin and deep bodies covered with bony lumps.
“This pair were suffering from an infestation of sea lice, so we have been treating them in our quarantine area. However they both appear to be in excellent condition and we’re hoping they will start to breed over the coming weeks or months,” he added.
Found from Northern Europe and Greenland to Maryland in the United States, lumpsuckers are also known as ‘sea hens’ and spend most of their time in deep water. Fully grown females can reach lengths in excess of 60cms.
In the spring, they come into the shallows to spawn. While the female returns to deeper waters, the male remains and protects the clump of up to 200,000 eggs from predators until they hatch.
The fish’s pelvic fins are adapted to form a powerful sucker on their undersides which is useful for clinging to rocks, particularly in wave-washed shallow waters and also allows the father to stay anchored to the rocks beside his eggs.
Apparently eighteenth century scientists, keen to find out whether the lump sucker really lived up to its name, noted that a bucket full of water could be lifted by the tail of a full grown fish clinging to its base.