General picture of a Tiger musky

Comparisons to Parent Species

     Tiger Muskies are the sterile spawn of Esox masquinongy and Esox lucius or better known as the muskellunge and the northern pike. There are many articles that talk about the similarities and Comparison of parent species to tiger muskydifferences of the tiger muskies in comparison to its two parent species. In a Canadian journal of aquatic sciences they compare overall growth and growth speeds as juveniles and adults, they also compare survival rates, and diets. In another article they compared morphology of the three escoid relatives.


 Figure 7. Parent species of the tiger musky. Photo complements of

    According to the Fish Introduction Proposal Phillips Reservoir Tiger Muskie there are four major morphological distinctions between the pure muskellunge, the northern pike, and the tiger musky. The first and most obvious of the four is the scale pattern. Tiger muskies have dark vertical stripes going down the sides of their sleek torpedo like bodies similar to a tiger hence why they are called tiger muskies. Pure muskies can vary from elongated spots to no pattern at all, while northern pike on the other hand have distinct spotted patterns. The next morphological difference can be seen in the caudal fins (aka) tail fins, and the belly fins. For northern pike and tiger muskies the belly and caudal fins are rounded while in the pure musky they are pointed. Another difference can be found by looking at the scales on the cheek. Cheeks on pure muskies are only scaled on the upper half while in pike the entire cheek is covered. Tiger muskies have gained apiece from each parent; three fourths of its cheek is covered in scales. The last major morphological difference and hardest to identify are the number of mandibular pores on each of these three escoids. Northern pike have 5 mandibular pores, pure muskies have 6 to 9 mandibular pores, and again tiger muskies inherit a little from both parents giving it 5 to 8 pores.

   In one experiment northern pike, pure muskies, and tigerFigure 8. Giant tiger musky landed. Photo by Karl F. Moffat. muskies were observed for five years and were compared to each other by growth, survival and diet (Wahl and Stein 1993). In all three species growth increased on average at a linear rate, meaning each type of fish grew at a consistent rate per year for five years (Wahl and Stein 1993). In juvenile stages all three escoids grew at similar speeds and size for length but in weight pike were typically the fastest growing juveniles, followed by the tiger musky, and then the pure musky (Wahl and Stein 1993). With that being said at an adult age it is. generally completely flipped; muskies grow the fastest and biggest, followed again by tiger muskies, and then pike (Wahl and Stein 1993). Survival rates were also measured in each species. Results show in the given environment pike typically survived the most often up to the age of four, followed by pure muskies, and bringing up the rear are tiger muskies (Wahl and Stein 1993).  The last comparison made in this experiment was on diet content which all turned out to be very similar. Most popular of bait fish was gizzard shad, then it was centrarchids and lastly cyprinids (Wahl and Stein 1993).

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