Esox Linnaeus, 1758, is a genus of freshwater fish, the only member of the pike family (family Esocidae) of order Esociformes. The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike. The species of this genus are known as the pikes.
The pike species are native to the Palearctic and Nearctic ecozones, ranging across northern North America and from Western Europe to Siberia in Eurasia.
Pikes can grow to a maximum recorded length of 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in), reaching a maximum recorded weight of 35 kg (77 lb). Individuals have been reported to reach 30 years in age. They have the elongated, torpedo-like form of predatory fishes, with sharply-pointed heads and sharp teeth. Their coloration is typically grey-green with a mottled or spotted appearance.
The pikes are notoriously voracious carnivores and can be potential pests when introduced into alien ecosystems. They are prized as gamefish for their determined fighting and have been food fish since ancient times. (See Fishing for pike.)
The generic name Esox derives from the Greek ίσοξ (a kind of fish), itself a word of Celtic origin related to the Welsh ëog and Irish Gaelic iach (salmon). Pliny uses the Latin form esox in reference to a large fish in the Rhine normally identified with lax (salmon). It is likely that Linnaeus's application of Esox to the pikes is thus a misnomer.
The English common name "pike" is an apparent shortening of "pike-fish", in reference to its pointed head, Old English píc originally referring to a pickaxe.
A northern English and Scottish name for the pike, ged, similarly derives from Old Norse gaddr (spike).
The English "pike" originally referred specifically to the adult fish, the diminuitive form "pickerel" (now used to name some of the smaller pikes, E. americanus and E. niger) referring to the young. The walleye (Sander vitreus) is sometimes called a pickerel, but it is unrelated to the pikes, being a member of the perch family (family Percidae). The pikes are not to be confused with the unrelated pikeminnows (formerly known as "squawfish") of genus Ptychocheilus (family Cyprinidae).
Two United States Navy submarines have been named Pike, SS-6 of 1903 and SS-173 of 1935, and three, SS-22 of 1912, SS-177 of 1936, and SS-524 of 1944, named Pickerel. In addition, the Soviet submarines known to NATO as the Victor III class were called the Shchuka (Щука, "pike") class, in Russian. The Soviet Iosef Stalin tank (IS-3) was also nicknamed Shchuka, in reference to its sharply pointed hull front.
- "Esox" (http://www.fishbase.org/Eschmeyer/GeneraSummary.cfm?ID=Esox). FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. October 2004 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2004.
- "Esox" (TSN 162138) (http://www.itis.usda.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=162138). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. N.p.: Integrated Taxonomic Information System, 2004. Accessed on 5 December 2004.
- Oxford English Dictionary, s.vv. "Esox", "Ged1", and "Pike, n.4".