Smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) are a major food source for fish-eating birds and other fish such as trout and sea bass.
The smelt is a marine fish but enters freshwater in the spring to spawn. They shoal in large numbers and are a major food source for fish-eating birds and other fish such as trout and sea bass. They feed primarily on small crustaceans and shrimps, as well as small fish and fry.
The smelt's lower jaw projects beyond the upper jaw, and the mouth is lined with rows of many teeth.
- Listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species
- UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species
- Species of principle importance for the purpose of conserving of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
Appearance: smelt are a relatively small, silver fish. Because they're a distant relation of the salmonid family they have an adipose fin.
Typical size: 10-15cm
Lateral line scale count: smelt have a very short lateral line extending 8 to 10 scales from the gill cover. Over the rest of the body there is no lateral line but the smelt has a scale count of 59-70.
Lifespan: 8 years
Last date edited: 24 December 2020