Ninespine Stickleback (Pungitius pungitius)
Despite the precise count in its name, this fish can have eight to 11 spines that stickle its back. Not just nine. But count aside, those spines — which make up a dorsal fin without the connecting membrane — inspire a fierce name. Here's the fierce story: after suspended in a plant-based nest and developing its rather striking spines, the ninespine stickleback (aka ten-spined stickleback) is intentionally scared off by its father to live an independent life. In adulthood, they take residence in shallow, vegetated areas of streams, lakes, and ponds throughout Northern Europe and from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Circle in North America. Their food source, aquatic insects — as well as insect eggs and larvae – keep the ninespine stickleback hardy. Good thing, too, because they need to fend off the likes of larger fish and hungry birds.