10 20 40 60 cm
mittakaava < 20 cm
Gösta Sundman: Suomen Kalat (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland), Lauri Urho, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Petri Savola (Uudenmaan ympäristökeskus). All rights reserved.
- Family: Smelts – Osmeridae
- Similar species: vendace
- Size: In inland waters usually 7-12 cm, in the sea 15-20 cm.
- Appearance: The smelt has a slender elongated body. With its adipose fin it resembles a small vendace, though the smelt is slimmer. Mouth relatively large, with lower jaw protruding. The mouth contains long, sharp teeth. Scales small, transparent and easily detached. Two forms of smelt occur in Finland, these differing in rate of growth and thus size. The larger form is found both in the sea and in larger inland waterways.
- Colouring and odour: Small smelts, in particular, are translucent. The lake form is bluish on the back, the marine form bluish green, belly pale, silver stripe along side. When fresh, the smelt has a strong cucumber-like odour.
- Reproduction: Spawns very early in spring, often before the ice has completely melted. Eggs laid usually in flowing water such as a river estuary. Sea-dwelling smelts may run rivers to spawn. The lake form spawns in shallow water, often close to the shore.
- Food: The lake smelt relies largely on plankton, while larger sea smelt feed on benthic invertebrates and small fish fry.
- Distribution and habitat: Widely distributed in inland waters from the south of Finland as far north as the river Oulujoki system. Only occasionally found further north. The larger, faster-growing form has been encountered in the large lake systems of south and southeast Finland. Common in all sea areas. Found in shoals in the open sea, smelts generally inhabit fairly deep water but come to the surface on summer evenings.