Common name: Flounder
Latin name: Platchthys flesus
Record weight: As an inshore species, both the boat and shore records for flounder are very similar with weights of 5lb 11oz 8 drams and 5lb 7oz respectively.
Distribution: Flounder are very common in shallow coastal waters around Europe. These small fish can often be caught in a small net by trawling up and down a beach in water only a few inches deep. Flounder can even be found many miles from the sea, high up in rivers where the water is completely fresh. There is even a population of flounder in Loch Lomond. How they got there and whether they ever return to the sea is unknown. Interestingly, flounder are much more common in freshwater in colder climes, and in Scotland and Scandinavia they can be found up to 100 kilometres from the sea and probably spend several years in freshwater.
Features: The rather quirky flounder begins life looking like most young fish, swimming upright with a rather deep body and narrow profile. As the flounder grows, it begins to swim on it's side and eventually one side becomes pale as the fish takes on a bottom dwelling life. Even more remarkable, the left eye of the flounder migrates around the head, so that by the time the fish are mature both eyes are found on what was the right flank of the fish, even if they are a little off-centre. Flounder are well camouflaged against a light coloured sandy bottom and can alter their tone substantially to match the tone of the sea bed. Pinkish spots are found randomly over the body.
Diet: Flounder feed upon small crustaceans for most of their lives, although larger fish tend to consume large numbers of molluscs. Worms and small fish are also consumed when locally abundant.
Spawning: Flounder move into shallow, warm water and spawn during the Spring. The eggs float and are carried by the current for the few days that they require to hatch. The young hatchlings also drift in the current, until they begin to change, at which point they migrate to the sea bed where they stay for the rest of their lives.
Growth: Flounder are only a short lived fish with most fish only living for 5-7 years. As only a small fish, flounder are quite slow growing and may take four years to mature at a length of around 30cm. Flounder appear to grow more slowly in freshwater, although this is dependant upon the environment.