Photo: Tiit Hunt
The mating time is a good opportunity for comparison with mammals.
The male eelpout fertilizes the female internally. In the uterus of the female larva (fry) develop from the roe grains. Thus the eelpout is a viviparous fish, our only fish giving birth to live young. The so-called birthing begins in November and can last until February. Of course the number of progeny is not comparable to that of the spawning species; from ten up to four hundred fry are born. The fry at once start their independent lives sheltered by the aquatic plants.
The sea-living eelpout reminds of the burbot living in fresh waters, with a supple body and similarly placed fins. In the mating period the edge of the otherwise yellowish dorsal fin turns brick red.
Habitat is coastal waters with a sandy or rocky bottom up to a depth of 25 metres – it is numerous in the bay of Livonia between Kihnu and Ruhnu and in the Gulf of Finland. It feeds from the bottom fauna: mussels and Baltic clams, amphipods, waterlice, Saduria isopods, ragworms (Nereis) ... In autumn and in spring it devours the roe of the spawning Baltic herrings.
In the food chain the eelpout is prey for the preying fishes – perch, cod, eel - and sea birds.