Arctic Char

Arctic Char

Scientific name: Salvelinus alpinus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Salmonidae
Order: Salmoniformes
Class: Actinopterygii
Irish name: Gualán
Irish record angling fish: not recorded
Native species: Yes
Hybrids: No

Identifying features

Body shape is trout-like fish, coloration variable according to habitat, sex and breeding conditions; olive or blue-grey above, becoming lighter on the sides; some fish, especially breeding males, become red or orange on the belly and have the lower fins pink or red, with cream or white edges; char have pale spots on a dark ground, whereas trout and salmon have dark spots on a light ground; in Irish waters, char grow to about 0.7kg but are often much smaller; several types of Irish char have been recognised4.

Environment and Habitat

Lake residents in Ireland (anadromous in other parts of the world); occurs in deep, cold lakes;  slow-growing fish; spawns in lakes in winter or early Spring2;

European distribution

Found in selected unpolluted Irish upland lakes only;

Economic value in Ireland

Minor commercial value; farmed in Ireland;

Red list status

Near Threatened

Irish legislation status

1987 Irish Fisheries Amendment Act (No.2) – expanded the term ‘salmonid’ to include Arctic char and rainbow trout and so protects char spawning grounds, juvenile char and designates a closed season.

EU legislation status

unprotected