Sand eel

Line Caught Sand Eel - WWC Archives

The Lesser Sandeel (Ammodytes tobianus) can grow to a Max. of 20cm.


Long elongated body with a rounded cross-section. The head is elongated and pointed, with a sharp prominent lower jaw. The upper jaw is protrusible, and is able to open forward to form a tube. The roof of the mouth (palate) lacks teeth. Scales on the the belly form a chevron pattern. Scales in oblique skin ridges. Single low form dorsal fin, with very long base, composed of 49 to 58 rays. This starts in front of the tip of the pectoral fin, running down the back, almost to the tail fin.The anal fin is about half the length of the dorsal fin. Whilst the pelvic fins are absent, the pectoral fins are small and low set. The caudal fin is forked in shape. Colouration ranges from greenish yellow on the back, through to yellow on the upper sides, and then blending into a brilliant silver on the lower sides and belly.


Depending upon the race to which they belong, breeding usually occurs either between February to April, or from September through into November. Adults reach maturity in 1 to 2 years (8cm+), and may live for 7 years or so.


Found from the mid-tide level down to around 30m in inshore waters, with clean sandy bottoms. Often found swimming in large shoals, that will rapidly burrow in sand if alarmed.


Eats planktonic stages of fish, crustaceans, and other small invertebrates.


Found all around the coasts of the British Isles.


The Aquarium Project

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