10 20 40 60 cm

mittakaava < 20 cm

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Gösta Sundman: Suomen Kalat (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland), Lauri Urho, Petri Savola (Uudenmaan ympäristökeskus)

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Sprattus sprattus

  • Family: Herrings – Clupeidae
  • Similar species: baltic herring
  • Size: 10–14 cm.
  • Appearance: Like other members of the herring family the sprat has no lateral line. Scales easily become detached. Snout slightly shorter than that of Baltic herring, giving the sprat a rather more streamlined look. Eye slightly smaller than that of Baltic herring. Both species have a sharp keel of scales along the belly. Easily felt by running the finger along the belly from tail to head. These scales are much sharper on the sprat than the Baltic herring. Size is also a good guide: individuals over 17 cm are almost certainly Baltic herring. The two are best distinguished by the position of the pelvic fins, which are level with, or slightly in front of, the origin of the dorsal fin in the sprat, further back in the Baltic herring.
  • Colouring: Sides silvery, back almost black, lower down deep bluish. The backs of Baltic herring are usually more greenish.
  • Reproduction: Spawns in summer out in the open Baltic Sea. The eggs float, and need a salinity of at least 0.6% to develop, restricting breeding to the sea off Finland’s SW coast.
  • Food: Plankton.
  • Distribution and habitat: Common in open sea around the Åland Islands, the sea off Finland’s SW coast and the western Gulf of Finland. Less common in the eastern parts of the Gulf of Finland. Rare in northern Gulf of Bothnia. Generally moves to where the water is warmer. Large shoals feed on plankton in open water. Population sizes vary greatly. When abundant found in large numbers in Finnish waters, when population size falls sprats find enough feeding further south and fewer visit Finnish waters.

A tasty fish, high in oil. Often sold canned. Economically important despite its small size.

Other species from the same family

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