Northern Pike Fish “Esox Lucius”

northern pike fish

Last updated on August 18th, 2022 at 07:19 pm

Northern pike fish are freshwater fish that can be found in North America. They have a long, flat snout and many sharp teeth so they’re sometimes called ‘the great northern shark of freshwater.’ Northern pikes live near the edges of rivers and lakes along with other fish such as trout and bass because these are their main sources of food.

They are predators that lurk in the shallows of freshwater habitats. Northern pikes typically inhabit cold, clear waters with soft bottoms and abundant weed growth near shallow bays or shorelines. They prey on other fishes but will occasionally eat frogs, salamanders, insects, crustaceans, and even birds or small mammals.

Origin and description

northern pike fish

A northern pike fish is a freshwater fish of the genus Esox, with a long body and mouth full of sharp teeth. They are found in large lakes across North America as well as Europe and Asia. Their habitat ranges from freshwater streams to brackish estuaries where they feed on other fish species including smaller members of their own kind.

More than fifty different species of pike fish can be found across the globe, but they vary in size and appearance depending on their habitat, lifestyle, and diet. The northern variety is considered to be one of the smaller varieties at around 40 inches long with a simple distinguishing feature being their large mouth which is filled with sharp teeth for catching prey, and a long body with long dorsal and anal fins.

The pike is one of the oldest species in existence, dating back to prehistoric times where they were around 15 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed Earth. Fossil records show that smaller versions existed about two hundred and forty million years ago during the Triassic period which was when the first mammals started to appear on Earth.

Large northern pike fish can weigh up to forty pounds with a record being set in 2010 of 73 lbs, however, the average weight for this size is around 35-40 lbs which makes them one of the largest freshwater fish species found across North America and Europe. The filleted meat from a large Northern Pike fish can be eaten, but they are considered to have a very strong flavor.

Northern pike fish play an important role in the environment because of their predatory nature which helps control populations of other species such as trout and salmon who would otherwise become overpopulated.

Species profile

northern pike fish

The northern pike fish, also known as the “jackfish” or simply “pike,” is a carnivorous species of freshwater fish. It belongs to the genus Esox and can be found throughout North America – from Manitoba all the way south to Florida. They are top predators and have been documented as reaching at least 48 inches (122 cm) in length.

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The male of the species plays no role in raising young – it leaves its mate to tend after eggs and offspring. The northern pike fish incubates fertilized eggs under its dorsal fin for around six weeks; this is the only time it will come to the surface for air. After hatching, young pike fish are on their own.

The northern pike has a long body with an elongated head and pointed snout – they have teeth in both jaws which allows them to feed on prey as small as insects or as large as other fish species (including smaller northern pike). The body is typically green with a white belly.

Scientific name

The scientific name for the northern spike fish is Esox lucius

Color and appearance

The northern pike fish is dark with light spots on its back and fins, but if it spends time in the sun, it will develop more prominent markings.

This is because this species has a special pigment called “erythrophores” that is located near the surface of its skin. Erythrophores are used to absorb light and transform it into chemical energy.

The pigment that makes up the northern pike’s markings is called melanophores, which contain black pigments. A lack of sunlight will cause these cells to be less prominent than they would otherwise appear. Northern pike fish can change their appearance to blend in with their surroundings so as to better ambush prey.

The pike eats anything it can fit in its mouth, including beetles, dragonflies, frogs, and rodents. It is not picky about what it consumes as long as the food item fits into its toothy maw.

Range and habitat

The northern pike is found in North America and Eurasia. In Canada, it can be found from the west coast of British Columbia to Quebec, but its distribution throughout the rest of the country varies greatly depending on whether or not it lives in a freshwater habitat or an estuary.

In Northern Ontario, for example, they are confined mainly to the Hudson Bay coast.

The pike prefers to live in still or sluggish waters, such as ponds and lakes. Since it has a muscular body that allows for fast swimming, this species also makes its home in brackish waters along river mouths. It can tolerate low oxygen levels due to its respiratory system which consists of gills instead of lungs.

This species is most common in waters that are less than 50 meters deep, but it can also be found in water that is more than 100 meters deep. It rarely lives at depths of over 200m because there isn’t enough oxygen to support its respiratory system or provide nourishment for the pike’s food source.

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The northern pike is a large fish, reaching up to three meters in length and weighing as much as 30 kilograms.

Tank size

The minimum tank size for a single northern pike fish is 150 gallons.

If you plan on keeping more than one, it’s best to have an even larger aquarium of 200 gallons or more in order to accommodate the number of fish that will be sharing your home.

This species can grow up to three meters long, so make sure to have a tank that is just as long if not longer.

Additionally, you will need to have an appropriately sized filtration system because pikes are known for being messy eaters who release large amounts of waste into the water column.

A three-foot-long aquarium should be equipped with at least two efficient filters in order to maintain healthy water quality.

Another option would be an aquarium of 200 gallons or more if you want to house multiple pikes together.

Life cycle

The life cycle of the northern pike begins when an egg is laid by a parent fish. After fertilization, it takes about two months for this species to hatch from its eggs before they become larvae that eat plankton as their first meal.

At first, larval pikes are almost transparent and have a yolk sac attached to their bellies that provides nourishment during development. They also have pigment cells inside their bodies that give them their markings.

After they hatch, the young northern pike fish will eat small insects and plankton as its first meal.

From there it moves on to eating larger organisms including frogs and rodents if given the opportunity.

Once this species reaches adulthood, it can potentially live for twenty years or more depending on how well it is cared for.

Pikes have been known to reach the age of 40 if they are kept in captivity and given a healthy diet as well as an appropriate living environment.

In their natural habitat, northern pike fish tend to live even longer because they do not face many threats that can shorten their lifespans.

However, predators like cormorants, eagles, and humans are known to prey upon them.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

While this species of fish is known for being aggressive, there are certain factors that may influence how it interacts with other tank mates.

If you house a northern pike in an aquarium alone, its main source of food will be smaller fish so it becomes accustomed to targeting them as prey rather than some larger animal like an amphibian or reptile.

In a tank with other fish, however, it may be less aggressive depending on its prey preference. If you keep more docile species in the same tank as a pike, then they will not become dinner if given enough space to escape from their predator’s mouth when spotted.

Esox Lucius (Northern Pike) Care Tips

Northern pike fish care

northern pike fish

The main care requirement for northern pike fish is to keep the water clean. Even though they are able to survive in suboptimal habitats, their immune systems cannot withstand dirty waters that contain pollutants and high levels of nitrogen.

As a result, it’s important to implement weekly partial water changes with dechlorinated tap water in order to keep the water clean.

It’s also important to allow for good filtration in the tank because pike fish are very active and will produce a lot of waste which can affect oxygen levels in the aquarium, if it is not properly filtered out.

Northern pike fish diet

Northern pike fish are carnivorous and will eat mostly anything they can fit in their mouth including smaller fish, goldfish, crayfish, frogs, insects, etc. The best diet for northern pike fish is to feed them high-quality pelleted food either once or twice per day. It’s important not to overfeed them because they have a very high metabolism and will continue to eat even if their stomach is full.

If for some reason northern pike fish are not eating the food, it’s important to make sure that you are using the correct size of feeding ring or place smaller pebbles in front of the larger ones so that your fish can pick at the food.

However, If your Northern Pike Fish have stopped eating for more than two days, try feeding brine shrimp or blood worms to see if they will eat.

They should also be given live insects, earthworms, and feeder fish in order to provide them with a varied diet.

Tank mates

The best tank mates for northern pike fish are other predatory or semi-predatory species. Some suitable examples of these types of fish include tiger barbs, Oscars, and large catfish which can keep up with their voracious appetite. Other good tank mate options are bottom-dwelling armored catfish because they have no scales and do not taste good to northern pike fish.

It’s important to avoid keeping them with any slow or docile species such as guppies, platies, and goldfish because they will become a meal for the Northern Pike Fish.

Water conditions

northern pike fish

They prefer water with a ph of around seven and hardness between twelve and twenty dGH. They will do well in temperatures ranging from 72°F to 80°F (22-27°C).

The best option for the substrate is sand because they like to sift through it looking for food. However, you can also use gravel or stones if you prefer.

It’s important to avoid using any sharp objects in the tank because northern pike fish have very soft skin which can be easily damaged by them. So no rocks with sharp edges should be used and instead, smooth ones that won’t cause injury to your fish should be provided.


Northern pike fish are difficult to breed in a home aquarium because they need very specific water conditions. In order for them to successfully reproduce, the female northern pike will need to lay her eggs on a flat vertical surface such as the glass of an aquarium or pond where they can be fertilized by the male’s milt and then stick to the surface.

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It’s important that you provide your northern pike fish with a suitable spawning substrate such as rocks, flower pots, or large leaves and make sure they are well fed before putting them together in order to increase their chances of successfully reproducing. It will take around four days for the eggs to hatch after which point they should be moved to a separate tank and fed small live foods such as brine shrimp or daphnia.

Northern pike fish are very aggressive carnivores that can reach up to thirty inches in length when fully grown, so they require large tanks with plenty of space for swimming and hiding.


Northern pike fish have an average lifespan of fifteen to twenty years.

Parasites and diseases

The most common parasites of northern pike fish are intestinal worms.

It is possible to prevent parasitic infections by treating the tank with a parasite-specific medication or using salt as a prophylactic for several days at the beginning and end of each month.

Pond plants such as water lilies can be used in aquariums containing northern pike fish to reduce the chance of them becoming sick because they produce chemicals that kill parasitic organisms.

The fish are susceptible to developing several different diseases which can be contracted from both other northern pike and their prey, so it’s important to avoid adding a lot of small tank mates or wildlife such as snails into your aquarium if you have northern pike fish.


The main predators of northern pike fish are humans because they have been overfished in many areas. Fish, mammals, and birds can also prey on a northern pike when given the opportunity to do so.

In water with a ph lower than six or higher than eight, acidity levels will begin to rise which causes increased stress for your fish. You should avoid using any substrate with a ph of less than six or more than eight.

Does it make good pets?

Yes, Northern pike fish make good pets because they adapt well to living in an aquarium. They can be easily fed, provided with a suitable tank, and cared for without much trouble by experienced aquarists but it’s important that you take into account their needs when designing your tank, choosing their food, and treating them if necessary in order to successfully keep them as pets.


Northern pike fish can be a great sport for those who want to catch something different. They are not only beautiful creatures but also thrill-seekers that bring a lot of excitement during the hunt and finally catching it.