Brook lamprey

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Find out about the rare and unusual lamprey (Lampetra planeri).

Brook Lamprey, copyright Paul Frear, Environment Agency Brook Lamprey, copyright Paul Frear, Environment Agency


  • listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list of Threatened Species
  • Listed on Annex III of the Bern Convention and Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive (3).
  • Rare in the UK
  • Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Annex II species at a number of sites

Typical size: 10-15cm

Lifespan: 4 to 8 years

Appearance: lampreys lack gill covers and paired fins and instead of a jawed mouth, have a sucker disc with two tooth plates with a few blunt teeth.

They are eel like in shape, being long and cylindrical with a rear dorsal fin near to the tail and seven breathing holes on each side of the body. They are dark brown or dark grey in the body, have a white belly and bright yellow eyes.

Lamprey hold on to the bottom, suckered on with the use of their mouth. They feed on bacteria, algae and other types of detritus from the water and the mud. They are present in the Swansea Canal in quite high numbers and occasionally appear elsewhere.

Last date edited: 15 March 2018