The Gilthead (Sparus aurata) can grow to 35cm, although may reach 70cm.
The side profile of this sea bream is of a rounded deep set form, which is further exaggerated by having small eyes, positioned well above the plane of the mouth and pectoral fin. The cheeks and gill covers are scaled, whilst the preoperculum is not. The head accounts for approximately a quater of the body length, and has a relatively small mouth. The mouth is however emphasized by having large lips, behind which are 6 large pointed teeth. These are partially concealed behind the lips. Behind these are 2 to 4 rows of rounded grinding teeth. The colouration of the Gilthead, is that of grey-blue to greenish purple on the back of the head and body, that blends into a light blued silver. Longitudinal strips are evident, although these fade towards the belly. Large dusky blotch to be seen, that is set back from the eyes, and partially covers the gill cover and body. Head has a striking golden band between the eyes, and is responsible for the common name of this fish. The anterior portion of the dorsal fin has 11 stout spines, with the posterior section being composed of between 13 to 14 branched rays. The anal fin has 3 spines running into 11 to 12 branched rays of it's posterior section.
Hermaphrodite, with matriarchal tendency with age. Spawns during October to December, although not in the UK.
Tends to be a solitary fish, associated with shallow waters, especially those of an estuarine or brackish nature.
Mainly mussels and other molluscs, along with crustaceans and small fish.
To be seen occasionally in Southern England and Ireland.
The Aquarium Project