Fish Identification


  • barbus barbusBarbel. With its long body the Barbel is possibly the hardest fighting fish there is, It has a dark green / grey back that blends into its golden sides and a pale white underbody, Its eyes sit high in its head and its mouth is surrounded by 4 barbvules that it uses to detect food, It prefers clean fast flowing waters possibly with a chalk or gravel bottom and rivers that are very well oxygenated, The Barbel feeds on Clear spots on the bottom and due to its coloring is often difficult to spot.

  • Alburnus alburnusBleak. Often found in slow flowing rivers or still waters feeding near the surface, the bleak is a fish that can be found in large shoals. Although the Bleak will feed in shallow water or near the surface, they will often seek out deeper waters during the night. The Bleak has a long and lean big scaled straight silver body with a green back, cream underbelly and pale orange / gray fins.

  • Abramis bramaBream. This fish has flat tall sides and a thin cross sectioned body. The bream has dark back that becomes green / grey as the back blends in to the deep flat sides. The fins are grey and dark in colour. The young bream will have bright silvery sides whereas the older bream will get darker (golden).Bream (especially young) are shoal fish that prefer deep still or slow running water.

  • Chub. Has a long streamlined body with gray /golden scales that are black edged with a pale creamy underbelly. The Chub has red tipped fins and a dark green / brown back. They are predominantly a river fish that prefer hiding in snags and over hanging bushes and can be found feeding on clear gravel patches. Essentially a predatory fish the Chub are quite happy eating all types of food. The small Chub are easily confused with the Dace but the way to tell one from the other is that a Dace will have a concaved dorsal and anal fin where as the Chubs fins are convex.

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  • Cyprinus carpioMirror Carp. This fish is easy to tell apart from its near relative the common Carp. The Mirror carp has a more rounded shape to its body and tends to be more ‘stocky’. The scales on the body are generally large and non uniform in pattern but there are exceptions to the rule. Fish can be found with a linear line of scales down each side of the fish (linear mirror) and with a full set of large random scales all over the body (fully scaled). The body colour can be dependent on the water conditions and can range from pale yellow to a dark gold.

  • Cyprinus carpioCommon Carp. The carp are not native to UK waters but can be found in all still waters and slow flowing rivers. Possibly the most idealised fish in UK waters the carp can be found in lakes, ponds and some slow flowing rivers. The common carp are light / dark gold in colour with a streamlined body and small uniform scales. The carp have two barbules on either side of their mouths which are used to locate food. They can often be found rooting around in lilies and reed beds in their search of food.

  • Carassius carassiusCrucian Carp. These fish have deep golden sides with a dark brown back and a cream underbelly. The crucian carp is a barbules less bottom feeding fish but can be seen feeding on the surface on hot bright days. It is a smaller member of the Carp family that will not reach the same sizes as its much larger cousin. The Crucian carp can be found in ponds and lakes but rarely found in rivers.

  • Cyprinus CarpioLeather Carp. A true leather Carp has no scales on its body at all although it is accepted that a fish with line of scales underneath the dorsal fin is still counted a Leather Carp. The body colour of the fish is the same as the Mirror carp and can range from a pale yellow to a dark gold colour dependant on water conditions.

  • Ctenopharyngodon idellaGrass Carp. With its long large scaled body, the Grass Carp is predominantly a surface feeding fish. It has deep golden coloured sides, dark back and big gray / brown fins. This fish can grow in excess of one meter in length and can be found in lakes, ponds and slow flowing rivers. The Grass Carp is not native to UK waters and has been stocked primarily to control weed growth.

  • Cyprinus CarpioWild Carp The wild carp has a sleek powerful body with a dark almost black back and deep golden coloured sides and a creamy white body. The wild Carp are a smaller breed than the King Carp and prefer rooting around the silt bottoms of ponds and lakes. They can also be found moving through lilies and reeds in search of food. The Wild Carp has a long dorsal fin on its back and the fins are generally blue / gray in colour with pale red tips.

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  • Leuciscus leuciscusDace. Sometimes known as the dart these can be found in large shoals. They prefer the faster flowing stretches of the rivers and can often be seen feeding off of flies and insects on the water’s surface. The Dace has a streamlined body with silver / green sides, a dark back and pale grey / brown fins. The Dace is very often mistaken for a small chub as they are very similar but the way to tell one from the other is that a Dace will have a concaved anal and dorsal fin, where as a Chubs fins are convex.

  • AnguillaEel. With its snake like body, the Eel is a fish that looks like no other. The various colours of Eels is an indication of the age of the fish. This fish prefers to live on the bottom of rivers and lakes alike where it feeds on blood worm, larvae and even small fish. The Eel has two small fins either side of its body behind its head and its dorsal fin extends to the tip of its tale. The Eel is a largely misunderstood fish that that travels thousands of miles when they reach adulthood to the Sargasso Sea where they breed.

  • Thymallus thymallusGreyling. Often called the lady of the stream the Grayling can occasionally be found in still waters but they thrive predominantly in reasonably quick running water. The presence of Grayling in the water is a sign of its purity. It is a game fish and a member of the Salmon family and very often run with small trout. The Grayling has a streamlined body which is light gray to green in colour with blue speckled spots periodically dotted along its length and a dark green back. The Grayling can also be identified by its proud square shaped dorsal fin which is like no other.

  • Gobio gobioGudgeon. These can be found in large shoals feeding on the clear patches on the waters bed. The Gudgeon can be found in slow moving waters such as canals and rivers. Often described as a miniature Barbel the Gudgeon has two barbules (feelers) in the corners of its mouth where as Barbel have four. The Gudgeon has mottled grey / silver and brown sides with a white underbelly and pale brown speckled fins.

  • Leuciscus idusIde. This fish is not native to UK waters and can found more on the continent where they thrive in ponds, lakes and rivers. The Ide has a small head with a reasonably slim and flat silver body, a dark green / blue back and creamy white underbelly. The fins are a dull gray / red colour and the caudal (tail) fin is forked. The Ide is essentially a predator fish that prey on small fry and other crustaceans.

  • Perca fluviatillisPerch. These can be found in nearly all UK waters. It has a dark back that that blends around in to perfectly striped sides which the perch uses for camouflage. It has two dorsal fins, the first one a large spinney dorsal fin and the second being a smaller softer fin. The perch is a predatory fish that uses its black stripped sides to discreetly hide in the weeds and reeds ready to dart out and ambush its prey. The young fish sometimes hunt in packs where they will readily feed on small fry whereas the older perch are solitary fish much like the pike.

  • Esox luciusPike. Considered as the ultimate freshwater predator the pike is totally unmistakeable in appearance to any other fresh water fish. It has a long streamlined body with green and black camouflaged sides which leads to a fearsome mouth which is home to multitude sharp teeth. The pike is a solitary fish that spend its life hunting. It will usually lie in wait or slowly moving through weeds and reeds preying on unsuspecting fish in particularly the sick and weaker ones. Pike will be found in most still and slow running waters.

  • Tinca tincaTench. Sometimes known as the doctor fish because of its mucous like slime on its body which legend says has medicinal purposes, the Tench is a sturdily built fish that has small eyes and an olive green body with small scales and dark fins. The Tench can be found in predominantly still waters but they do also live in slow flowing rivers. Tench are predominantly a bottom feeding fish that can be found in the more shallow weedy locations such as lily pads, reeds and weeds.

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  • Rutilus rutilusRoach. This is one of the most common fish in UK waters and is a member of the carp family. Its dark back turns blue / green as it blends in to the flanks. The flanks themselves are silver in colour and the undersides of the belly are much paler. The roach also has red fins and bright red eyes. Roach are generally a shoal fish and can be found in nearly all still and slow flowing UK waters.

  • Scardinius erythrophthalmusRudd. Often confused at first glance with the Roach the Rudd, like the Roach is mainly found in still and slow running waters. It is primarily a surface feeding fish that favours overgrown areas such as reeds, lilies and weeds. The Rudd has an upturned mouth and its eyes have orange to yellow coloured irises. The older fish have deep golden sides whereas the younger fish are a pale yellow. Both have a greenish dark back, pale creamy underside and bright red / pink fins.

  • Gymnocephalus cermuaRuffe Also known as the Pope, this fish is a very close relative of the Perch and is not widely found throughout the UK. It has a short stocky body, two joined dorsal fins, a black spotted green / brown body with a cream / white underbelly. The Ruffe is a shoal fish that can be found foraging on weed and sand banks feeding on insect larvae and even small fry. It is most active at dawn and dusk.

  • Silurus glanisWells Catfish. A predatory fish, the catfish can be found stocked in some lakes although it prefers larger deep rivers and lakes. It has a long body with no scales, an extremely large head and an enormous mouth. The Catfish has a dark green mottled body with its anal fin extending all the way back to its tale. It can be found in the deeper darker areas of the water where it will feed on fish, worms and even mammals.

  • Stizostedion lucioperca coming soonZander. A formidable predator fish that is not native to UK waters, the Zander prefers deep dark waters where it will hide out preferring to hunt at low light times of the day. It is said to be a member of the perch family where it has two dorsal fins like the perch and a black stripped camouflaged body. The Zander is a pack hunter that has a fearsome set of teeth that they use to inflict serious damage on their prey.

  • Oncorhynchus mykissRainbow Trout. The senses of taste and smell are very well developed in the rainbow trout. They are better developed than the Bloodhound and are about 500 times more sensitive than these senses in a human. It is believed that along with Steelhead and salmon, rainbow trout use taste and smell to help them locate the waters of their original spawning streams.

  • Salmo truttaBrown Trout. The Brown Trout Salmo trutta is one of the few native fish species found in Scotland. The brown trout belongs to the Salmonidae family which includes the Atlantic salmon, the charr group, grayling and the oncorhynchus group (rainbow trout and North American "salmon" types. All these fish have an adipose fin. This is a tiny fin between the tail (caudal) and the back (dorsal) fins. Nobody is sure what this fin does - breeding or streamlining? This does open to question the method of clipping off this fin to mark fish!

  • SalmonidaeSalmon. Adult salmon live in the ocean (salt water), but return to their birthplace (fresh water) to spawn. An average salmon spends six months to seven years in the ocean. Major predators of salmon are bears, humans, killer whales, and other large fish.

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