Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Torrent Sculpin - Cottus rhotheus

Species of Concern

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
In Montana, the Torrent Sculpin is found only in the fast headwater streams of the Kootenai River drainage in the northwest portion of the state. As with all sculpins, it presents a somewhat grotesque appearance with its large head, huge pectoral fins, and bulging eyes. Sculpins have a very flattened hydrodynamic shape, which serves them well as they dart along the bottom between the cracks and crevices of rocks (Montana AFS Species Status Account).

Diagnostic Characteristics
This species is gray-brown with black speckling. The underside is light and the chin strongly mottled. The first dorsal fin is fringed with orange on spawning males. Palatine teeth are usually present. The body is robust. They usually have coarse prickles on the back, sides, and sometimes on the caudal peduncle.

Species Range
Montana Range

Click the legend blocks above to view individual ranges.

Western Hemisphere Range


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 84

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

These fish are typically found in the riffles of cold, clear streams, but are also taken in lakes. They hide near stones on the bottom.

Food Habits
The fry eat mostly plankton. Adults feed mainly on aquatic insects and a variety of invertebrates, but also include plankton. Larger individuals often eat small fish.

Reproductive Characteristics
They are sexually mature in 2 years and spawn in late spring. The eggs hatch in 30 to 50 degrees F. The male remains close to the nest until after the eggs hatch.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society species status accounts.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Brusven, M.A., and S.T. Rose. 1981. Influence of substrate composition and suspended sediment on insect predation by the torrent sculpin, Cottus rhotheus. Canadian Journal of Fish and Aquatic Sciences 38:1444-1448.
    • Edson, S.A. 1992. Sculpin (Cottus) distribution in the Kootenai National Forest and northwestern portions of the Flathead National Forest, Montana. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena. 37 pp. including appendices.
    • Gangemi, J.T. 1992. Sculpin (Cottus) distribution in the Kootenai National Forest and western portions of the Lolo National Forest, Montana. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT 59620. 54 pp.
    • Northcote, T. G. 1954. Observations on the comparative ecology of two species of fish, Cottus asper and Cottus rhotheus, in British Columbia. Copeia 1954:25-28.
    • Patten, B. 1971. Increased predation by the torrent sculpin, Cottus rhotheus, on coho salmon fry, Oncorhynchus kisutch, during moonlight nights. J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 28:1352-1354.
    • Thomas, A. E. 1973. Spawning migration and intragravel movement of the torrent sculpin, Cottus rhotheus. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 102:620-622.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Torrent Sculpin"
  • Additional Sources of Information Related to "Fish"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Torrent Sculpin — Cottus rhotheus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from