European River Lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis) - Wiki
European river lamprey
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[Photo] European river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis). Lampetra fluviatilis from the german northsea. Author M.Buschmann http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:M.Buschmann
The European river lamprey, also known as the river lamprey, is a jawless lamprey, scientific name Lampetra fluviatilis. It is found in coastal waters around almost all of Europe from the north-west Mediterranean Sea up to the lakes of Finland, Scotland, Norway (Lake Mjosa) and Russia, including river in the Alps. It feeds on ectoparasites and parasites of other fish. It has a reproduction cycle similar to that of a salmon. River lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis) belong to the same genus as brook lamprey and are thought to be very closely related. Current thinking suggests that european brook and river lampreys are a paired-species, which means the river lamprey represents the anadromous (sea going) form of the resident brook lamprey. However, this is an area that is still being actively researched.
River lampreys migrate upstream from the sea to spawning grounds in autumn/winter. Spawning activity is greatest in the springtime (like brook lamprey) and river lamprey ammocoetes also spend several years in soft sediment before migrating to sea as adults. It is not currently known how long these fish spend in marine habitats before making the return trip to spawn.
As ammocoetes, because of their close similarity to brook lamprey, it is very difficult to identify these fish beyond genus level (Lampetra). These fish average 30cm in length as adults but some may be considerably smaller (20cm) but in each case they are distinctly larger than adult brook lamprey (12-14cm). They are generally 150 g in mass, and their maximum life span is roughly 10 years.
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