Bitterling

The bitterling (Rhodeus sericeus) has established itself in a number of ponds, small lakes and canals in the UK. Read more about this non-native fish.

Bitterling, courtesy of Jack Perks Bitterling, courtesy of Jack Perks

Location is more of a key than tactics when it comes to catching bitterling.

Carl Nicholls, fisheries & angling manager

An introduced fish, native to Central and Eastern Europe, the bitterling is extremely popular as a choice for garden ponds and aquariums. It has established itself in a number of ponds, small lakes and canals in the UK. This small fish, typically 6cm in length, has a remarkable breeding system. The female lays her eggs through an ovipositor tube into freshwater mussels, which protect the eggs from predators.

Appearance: bitterling have a deep laterally compressed body with bright silver and iridescent light purple sides. They have a long bright orange dorsal fin and anal fins. The pectoral and pelvic fins are usually white. Eyes are golden red and large, and the mouth is slightly up-turned.

British record: 12dms (British Record Fish Committee January 2015)

Lateral line scale count: incomplete lateral line. A scale count of 32-38 along its flank.

Lifespan: 5 to 6 years

How to catch a bitterling

Location is more of important than tactics when it comes to catching bitterling. A small fish requiring light float tackle and small hooks and baits.

Where to catch a bitterling

The bitterling has been present in the Llangollen Canal for decades. It appears to have little impact on native fish stocks.

Last date edited: 24 December 2020