any of the small, pugnacious, spiny-backed fishes of the family Gasterosteidae, inhabiting northern fresh waters and sea inlets, the male of which builds and guards the nest.
any small teleost fish of the family Gasterosteidae, such as Gasterosteus aculeatus (three-spined stickleback) of rivers and coastal regions and G. pungitius (ten-spined stickleback) confined to rivers. They have a series of spines along the back and occur in cold and temperate northern regions


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