Lampetra appendix (DeKay, 1842)
member of the Lamprey Family (Petromyzontidae)
Whitewater River, Winona County, Minnesota 24 September 1990
photos by Konrad P. Schmidt
In a Name?
(lam-pet´-trah) means to" lick a rock" in
Do They Live?
In Minnesota, American brook lampreys are found mostly in the southern part of the state. Specifically, they occur in the Cannon, Zumbro, Whitewater, Root, and Upper Iowa rivers and their tributaries. They also occur in two small tributaries of the Minnesota River in Scott County and in Valley Creek, a small tributary to the lower St. Croix River.
They prefer cool, often spring fed, streams ranging from small to medium size with clear water. Bottoms are usually made up of sand or small-sized gravel. They share this habitat with many kinds of fish, such as sculpins, brook trout, and brown trout.
"Cool Fact": The American brook lamprey is one of three species of non-parasitic (or non-predatory) lampreys in Minnesota.
Big Do They Get?
American brook lampreys grow to a maximum size of about 260 mm (10 in). Male lampreys grow a bit longer than females do.
Do They Eat?
During the larval period, American brook lampreys burrow into soft sand and silt bottoms. There they filter-feed on a bland diet made up of very small plant and animal life, such as protozoans, diatoms, algae, desmids, and pollen. During the short adult period, the brook lamprey does not eat.
Do They Reproduce?
The nest is the size of a saucer and shaped similar to a hen's egg. The male creates it by using his sucker mouth to move gravel and pebbles around in the stream bed.
When the females arrive at the spawning area, they go to the nest and attach themselves to a rock with their sucker mouths. The male then joins her and the female lays her eggs while the male fertilizes them. The fertilized eggs then fall into the nest and are covered slightly by the gravel and sand that has been disturbed by the two fish. Shortly after the two adults are done spawning, they die.
The female can lay 1,000-5,000 eggs, depending on her size. The embryos hatch in about three weeks, and the larvae (called ammocoetes) drift downstream. Eventually, they burrow in soft sand and silt, where they feed and grow for 4-7 years. Ammocoetes transform into adults in the fall, spawn the following spring, and die.
Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.
Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
Text by Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program
This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)
Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Last updated 23 October 2002