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[Species Menu] [Dab articles]

Common name: Dab

Latin name: Limanda limanda

Record weight: One of the smallest of the flatfish that regularly turns up in anglers catches. The shore record is held by a fish of 2lb 9oz 8 drams, whilst the boat best is slightly bigger at 2lb 12oz 4 drams.

Distribution: Found throughout the waters of Europe, particularly in shallow inshore waters. Prefers water under 40m deep and can be found in water only a metre or two deep, so is very often caught by shore anglers during the winter months and early spring when the fish move inshore to spawn. Most common in the South and East of the British Isles.

Features: Sandy brown colouration closely matches the sea bed in which it half buries itself when resting up. The upper surface is often covered in dark spots, but their number and pattern vary from location to location. The lateral line has a very distinct curve where is makes a detour around the pectoral fin. What was originally the dorsal fin has a distinct cleft on the way along its length.

Diet: Feeds mainly on crustaceans, particularly brown shrimp. Will also take small fish, molluscs and polycheate worms that are locally available in it's muddy environment.

Spawning: Spawning occurs in the early Spring when the females lay up to a hundred thousand 1mm diameter eggs into the current where they are externally fertilised by the males. The eggs are positively buoyant and float up to the surface waters. The eggs hatch after approximately two weeks and the young fish spend the first few weeks of their lives living in an upright form in the surface layers feeding upon the abundant plankton. At a length of around 6cm the young fish begin their metamorphosis to the adult (flat) form.


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