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Life in Freshwater

River Lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis)

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Lamprey head

The Lamprey is a drab colour but in certain lights it takes on a silvery sheen. It is eel-like with a long dorsal fin, notched in the middle. Close up the most noticeable feature is the sucker on the jaw with three teeth.

This lamprey lives in rivers and lakes but also migrates to and from the sea. It is known to travel out of water for prolonged periods, being able to cope in just a humid environment. They are common locally across most of Europe .

ECOLOGY: Lampreys are a primitive type of fish. The adults are parasites, living on the outside of fish. The sucker attaches to the side of the body of a suitable fish and the teeth begin to cut into the flesh. The blood is then consumed. Fish are often caught showing the signs of lamprey attacks, as white circular depressions in the side. Adults swim to the sea in autumn and return the following year to spawn. Up to 40,000 eggs are laid in a scraping on the bottom. They die after spawning. Larval lampreys take up to five years to develop and in the ammocoete larval form lie in sediments feeding on micro-organisms.

Note in the photo above the side of the head does not have gill slits like true fish. Instead there are gill sacs with holes to the outside.

Adult lamprey
A full size adult photographed from above









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