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Lota lota

Lota lota, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Osteichthyes
Classis: Actinopterygii
Subclassis: Neopterygii
Infraclassis: Teleostei
Superordo: Paracanthopterygii
Ordo: Gadiformes
Subfamilia: Lotinae
Genus: Lota
Species: L. lota


Lota lota (Linnaeus, 1758)


Gadus lota Linnaeus, 1758


* Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae, Ed. X.
* Lota lota Report on ITIS

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Rutte, Ruppe, Aalraupe, Aalrutte, Quappaal, Quappe, Treische, Trüsche, Rufunkel, Rufolken
English: Burbot, Eel-Pout
Nederlands: Kwabaal
Polski: Miętus

The burbot (Lota lota) is the only gadiform (cod-like) fish inhabiting freshwaters. It is also known as mariah, the lawyer, and (misleadingly) eelpout. It is closely related to the marine common ling and the cusk. It is the only member of the genus Lota.

The genus and species name "lota" comes from the old French[1] "lotte", fish named also "barbot" in this language. The Inuktitut–Iñupiaq word for burbot was used to name the recently discovered extinct transitional species Tiktaalik.


It is most common in streams and lakes of North America and Europe above 40°N latitude. They are fairly common in Lake Erie but are also found in the other Great Lakes.

United Kingdom

In Britain, the burbot is possibly an extirpated fish as it is believed that there have been no documented catches of the species since the 1970s. [3] If the burbot does still survive in the UK, the counties of Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire (particularly the River Derwent or River Ouse) seem to be the strongest candidates for areas in which the species might yet continue to survive [4]. There have been plans to re-introduce this freshwater member of the cod family back into British waters but these have yet to come to fruition.

Commercial significance

The burbot is edible. In Finland, its roe is sold as caviar. There is an annual spearfishing tournament held near Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada. One of the highlights of the tournament is the fish-fry where the day's catch is served up deep-fried. When cooked, burbot meat tastes very similar to American lobster, leading to the burbot's nickname of "poor man's lobster."

In the 1920s, Minnesota druggist Theodore "Ted" H. Rowell and his father, Joseph Rowell, a commercial fisherman on Lake of the Woods, were using the burbot as feed for the foxes on Joe’s blue-fox farm. They discovered that the burbot contained something that improved the quality of the foxes’ furs; this was confirmed by the fur buyers who commented that these furs were superior to other furs they were seeing. Ted Rowell felt it was something in the burbot, so he extracted some oil and sent it away to be assayed. The result of the assay was that the liver of the burbot has 3 to 4 times the potency in vitamin D, and 4 to 10 times in vitamin A, than “good grades” of cod-liver oil. The vitamin content varies in Burbot from lake to lake, where their diet may have some variation. Additionally, the burbot liver makes up approximately 10% of the fish's total body weight, and its liver is six times the size of those of freshwater fish of comparable size. Ted also found in his research that the oil is lower in viscosity, and more rapidly digested and assimilated than most other fish liver oils. Ted went on to found the Burbot Liver Products Company which later became Rowell Laboratories, Inc., of Baudette, Minnesota, and is today a subsidiary of Solvay Pharmaceuticals of Brussels, Belgium.

Evelyn C. Smith researched and developed of the use of livers from the fresh water burbot for fish oil strong in vitamin A and D. She started during the Great Depression (1929) by offering free burbot oil to the poor and grew to commercializing the oil until the sale of the production equipment to the Rowell Fish Company in 1940.[2]


The IGFA recognizes the world record burbot as caught on Lake Diefenbaker, Canada by Sean Konrad on March 27, 2010. The fish weighed 25 pounds 2 ounces (11.4 kg).[3]

The burbot is a tenacious predator, which will sometimes attack other fish that are almost the same size and as such can be a nuisance fish in waters where it is not native. Recent discoveries of burbot in the Green River at Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah have concerned wildlife biologists who fear that the burbot could decimate the sport fish population in what is recognized as one of the world's top Brown Trout fisheries. The Utah Division of Fish and Game has instituted a "No Release" "Catch and Kill" regulation for the burbot in Utah waterways.[4]

The town of Walker, Minnesota, holds an International Eelpout Festival every winter on Leech Lake.[5] The festival received national attention on March 4, 2011 when a correspondent from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno did a segment on the event.


1. ^ http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/lotte
2. ^ "Smith Bros. Family History
3. ^ IGFA World Record for burbot
4. ^ [1]
5. ^ "Annual International Eelpout Festival." Annual International Eelpout Festival. 26 April 2008. 29 May 2008 [2]

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License