3 spined stickleback

Three-spined Stickleback

Scientific name: Gasterosteus aculeatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Order: Gasterosteiformes
Class: Actinopterygii
Irish name: Garmachán, biorach lodáin, dealg úcaire, pincín
Irish angling record: Not recorded
Native species: Yes
Hybrids: No

Identifying features

Identified by the 3 to 4 sharp, free spines before the dorsal fin, the pelvic fin reduced to a sharp spine and a small ray, and the series of plates along the sides of the body; freshwater forms usually mottled brown or greenish; anadromous forms silvery green to bluish black; a few isolated populations are black; sides usually pale; belly yellow, white or silvery; fins pale; pectoral rays often have dark dots; breeding males (except for black forms) become brilliant bluish or green with blue or green eyes, and the forward part of the body, especially the breast region, turns bright red or orange4; maximum length 11cm 2.

Environment and Habitat

Occur on the bottom or midwaters of a water body; anadromous1; lake and river dwelling fish; usually found in shallow areas with available cover close-by; growth is strongly related to food availability; spawn in summer when male creates nest made of aquatic vegetation2.

European distribution

Circumpolar in Arctic and temperate regions, extending south to the Black Sea, southern Italy, Iberian Peninsula, 71°N - 26°N, 117°E - 60°E.

Economic value in Ireland

No commercial value.

Red list status

Least Concern.

Irish legislation status.

Protected by Coarse Fish bye-law No. 806, 2006: maximum 4 fish per angler per day; no killing of coarse fish > 25cm.

EU legislation status