Duck Fish (Pollachius-Anatidae)

Published by Cameron McEachern (12/11/16) Orilio Period 5 Create-a-Creature Proj.


The Duck Fish is a saltwater organism belonging to the species of Gadidae. Most Gadid species are found in temperate waters of the Northern Hemisphere. They are generally medium-sized fish, and are distinguished by the presence of dorsal fins on the back and two anal fins on the underside. Most common animals related to this genus are of the Cod family. The Species (Pollachius Anatidae) is a salt water organism that is found in relatively colder waters along the Atlantic Coast of the United States and United Kingdom. Also known as the “Flying Fish” for its duck like features, this organism cannot fly but has wing-like fins on the top of its back that help support it swim through the rough waters, especially off the shores of the Atlantic.

Ocean Zone and Habitat:

Duck Fish are primarily found around the colder ocean temps, such as the New England coastline in the US and coast of Whales and Scotland in the UK. Located in the Pelogic Realm, the Pollachius Anatidae is most commonly found in the Neritic Zone (Epipelagic Zone-depth) based upon distance from shore (less than ~200m depth), and Euphotic Zone(~200m) due to increased amounts of sunlight, lots of oxygen, warmer ocean temperatures, water clarity (turbidity) and much lower pressure.

Pollachius Anatidae is found over a wide range of substrates, from rocky ground and wrecks, through to open waters with sand and gravel and sea grass beds habitats. Younger fish tend to be associated with shallow waters (1 to 5m in their first two years), whilst the larger fish tend to be found in small shoals, in deep water over rocks and wrecks. Because the organisms prefer cooler water for survival, they spend most of their time surviving in the northern Atlantic waters.

Physical Traits and Adaptations to Environment:

The Duck Fish can grow to be about 3ft in length and weigh about 40lbs, but some have been found around the UK shorelines to grow up to 5ft and weight 60+lbs. This species can be separated from Pollachius by looking at the relative lengths of the upper and lower jaws. Pollachius has a longer underslung lower jaw while P. virens (Coalfish; closely related sister) has approximately equal upper and lower jaw lengths. This gives a very different profile to the head, with also a duck like beak. In general Pollachius Anatidae is a brown or golden color with a darker tinted back and distinctive green face that makes it appear to look like a duck. The Duck fish generally appears to have relatively larger eyes than its sister (Coalfish); the lateral line of Pollachius Anatidae has noticeable smaller pectoral fins while that of P. virens is straighter and larger. Duck Fish also have a large dorsal fin that gives it the appearance of wings. The Caudal Fin is relatively the same as its sister P. Virens with a medium like crease in center that gives it more of a stable strive through rough waters. The gills are located at the side of its face and its nostrils has a similar look to those of a duck (hence duck fish). Coal Fish have many adaptions to their environment as well. Due to their much larger snout (Beak-like structure face), they are able to physically bite into their prey with more force then other fish located in their habitat. With their Green tinted face and brown/tan body, they’re able to blend in with the sea grass and sandy/rocky environments around them. Pollachius Anatidae also have the ability to hold their breath for long periods of time (3-5 hours) and float above water like a duck when they’re avoiding predators. This gives them the capability to avoid other ducks and tricks organisms in thinking they are a duck because they spread out their dorsal fins to make it look like they’re resting their wings.


Pollachius Anatidae are fast paced swimmers, especially due to their much larger dorsal fins that gives them the ability to move quicker through water like aerodynamics that gives cars the function to drive faster. The Pectoral and Pelvic Fins are relatively the same size(5-10cm) but are built much stronger than most fish, and this gives them the capability to strive through water really quickly to attack prey or avoid predators. Also considered a Nekton (swimmers), these organisms actively maneuver throughout the water column.


Duck Fish like most marine organisms developed gills as a function of providing oxygen. They have a large surface area to allow as much oxygen to enter the gills as possible because more of the oxygen comes into contact with the membrane. Pollachius Anatidae has good blood supply to maintain the concentration gradient needed to effectively perform respiration. The thin membrane provided on both sides of the face allow for a short diffusion pathway, and each gill has two rows (hemibranchs) of gill filaments. As observed in mammals, fish “breathe” faster and heavier when they do physical exercise. Duck fish primarily aren’t stable animals, and make lots of movements so they are able to take in much more oxygen than stationary animals.

Close up Image of gills on Duck Fish.


Pollachius Anatidae is often hunting in large shoals in the pelagic zone. Their food mostly consists of small fish like herring and sand eels, plants like sea kelp, but they’ve been seen to be more aggressive in locations like Scotland shorelines as they eat organisms like cods to compete for territory and food. Due to their much larger snout (Beak-like structure face), they are able to physically bite into their prey with more force then other fish located in their habitat. The harder beak like snout is a perfect adaptation that has allowed the Duck fish to survive and relatively remain towards to higher tropic levels in the energy pyramid. These animals are of course consumers (heterotrophs) and break down glucose to obtain their energy (cellular respiration). Pollachius Anatidae is primarily omnivores, and feed on both plants and animals.


Primarily spawns between January and May, with February through to March, being the prime time. Pollachius Anatidae spawning occurs off shore in about 100-200m of water, and the fry hatch in about 6-9 days in water temperatures of between 6 -10C. The Pelagic larvae drift inshore to shallow water, where rapid growth occurs, so that the young fish may be 25cm in length by the end of their first year. Females are primarily smaller than males (1-2ft) while males are (2-4ft), and males attract females by competing with other. Males compete by flapping their dorsal thins to see who’s much larger and stronger and the female typically chooses the stronger one and allows the male to fertilizer her eggs so they can let them drift into shallow waters and grow up. The fry’s typically have to grow up on their own and learn to survive themselves. It’s not until juveniles is when they fully adapt a large beak and long dorsal thins that give them the “duck” look. Females can produce up to 50 eggs at once, but typically only 10% of the eggs survive their first week alone, and 50% make it through adulthood.

Defense Strategies:

Due to their adaptation to colder waters, there are much more limited resources in these ecosystems rather than warmer locations that provide coral reefs and areas of greater diversity. Pollachius Anatidae has to compete for resources to prevent other organisms with similar niches to take their own. Most commonly found between Duck fish, they thrive through interspecific competition, or competition between different species. For example, the Pollachius Anatidae most commonly competes with other large fish like the Cod. The Duck Fish uses its sharp “duck-like” beak to attack when they’re in their territory or competing over food and shelter. Also described previously, this organism uses its dorsal fins and floats above water to avoid predators like birds from swooping in. They are able to trick birds in believing it is a duck and won’t attack. Duck Fish are primarily self-ethical between their own families. Though they do most of the time hunt in schools of fish, they are most often independent and survive on their own. They don’t offer any symbiosis (different species living in close association with each other) with other organisms.

As Food:

Duck Fish is edible and has commercial value, although it is considerably less valuable than premium whitefish such as cod and haddock. To achieve a salmon-like orange color, it can be salted and smoked. In the UK the fish is commonly sold as a type of salmon, although it is not closely related to any salmon, but has similar tasting if prepared correctly.

Image above is an accurate representation of the amount of Duck Fish captured from 1950-2010.
Created By
Cameron McEachern

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