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a family of fishes of the suborder Esocidei. The body is sagittate and reaches 1.5 m in length and 35 kg in weight. The head is large, and the snout extremely elongated and flattened on top. The teeth are located on the intermaxillary bones, vomer, palatal bones, lower jaw, and tongue. The mandibular teeth are dagger-shaped. The gill membranes are not fused. The operculum is rectangular and elongate. Small scales cover the body and head.
The family contains a single genus, Esox (pike), with the two subgenera Esox and Kenoza, which embrace five extant species. The northern pike (E. lucius) is distributed in northern waters of Europe, Asia, and America, and the Amur pike (E. reicherti) inhabits the basin of the Amur and bodies of water on Sakhalin Island. The muskellunge (E. masquinongy), the common pickerel (E. niger), and the redfin pickerel (E. americanus) are found only in eastern North America.
The Esocidae inhabit fresh or slightly brackish waters with rich vegetation. They feed on other fishes, including their own young, as well as frogs, small rodents, and swimming birds. They reach sexual maturity in three to four years. The fish spawn in early spring and early summer near the coast in shallows (0.4–1 m). They deposit 17,500–215,000 roe on coastal plants. The eggs adhere to the plants and in two or three days fall to the bottom and develop there. The Esocidae are popular commercial fish. In some places, for example, in the Byelorussian SSR, they are farmed.
The Esocidae are known in fossil form from the Oligocene.
REFERENCESBerg, L. S. Ryby presnykh vod SSSR i sopredel’nykh stran, 4th ed., part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Nikol’skii, G. V. Chastnaia ikhtiologiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Sychevskaia, E. K. Iskopaemye shchukovidnye SSSR i Mongolii. Moscow, 1976. (Trudy Paleontologicheskogo instituto AN SSSR, vol. 156.)
E. K. SYCHEVSKAIA