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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Osmerus eperlanus Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: body long and slim, head rather pointed. Snout pointed, upper jaw reaching to hind margin of eye, lower jaw projecting a little; teeth in lower jaw larger than those of upper, strong teeth on tongue and canines on vomer. Gillrakers 27-38. Dorsal fin origin behind base of pelvic fins. Scales relatively large, 58-67, with 4-14 (16) pored scales (not reaching to level of dorsal fin). Vertebrae 54-62. Colour: back light olive green, flanks with silver stripe, belly creamy white. Size: to 45 cm.

Habitat: midwater, rarely far from shore, primarily anadromous in the west, while in the east primarily lacustrine (if Baltic regarded as a brackish lake); shoaling, at least when spawning. Food: active predators on small fishes, crustaceans (especially shrimps, also isopods and copepods). Reproduction: congregate near river mouths in winter and ascend in February-April, spawning in rivers and estuaries and returning afterwards, the small adhesive eggs sinking to the bottom and the young remaining in the estuaries for the rest of the summer; lake populations may ascend rivers or spawn in lakes.

Distribution: White Sea and its drainage (rare), Baltic and its drainage (including lakes of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Poland), southern North Sea, southern Norway, British Isles, Scotland, England, Wales, western Ireland) and northern and western coasts of France.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Ehrenbaum, 1894: 39, pl. 1 | Grieb, 1946: 31, fig. 2-6.
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.


0. eperlanus eperlanus: gillrakers usually 33-38; coasts and drainage of White and Barents Seas westwards through Baltic to Denmark. Primarily lacustrine.

0. eperlanus schonfoldi (Rutty, 1772): gillrakers usually 27-32; Poland westward to British Isles, but apparently sympatric with the nominate subspecies in parts of Poland, Denmark and the Baltic. Primarily anadromous.

Melt (Osmerus eperlanus)