European Plaice

The European Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Pleuronectiformes family of flatfish.

The European Plaice is oval-shaped with a thin, laterally compresed body and a small head. It has a small mouth with a single series of small incisor-like teeth. It has dark-green to dark-brown skin, which is blotched with irregular orange spots. It can camouflage its skin to match its environment. Its underside is pearly white. Its skin is smooth with small scales. Both eyes are on the right side of its body (it is called a right-eyed flatfish). 

European Plaice

It grows to about 100 centimetres (39 inches) in length. 

It is found in coastal waters from the Mediterranean to the northeast Atlantic. It prefers sandy and muddy bottoms of the ocean floor. It tends to burrow into loose soil. It can remain still for long periods. It is a benthic fish because it lives on the bottom of the ocean.  

It is mainly nocturnal, active at night. It feeds on invertebrates, such as crabs, sea stars, molluscs, and worms. 

The female lays thousands of eggs in the sand. The eggs hatch into larvae after about 14 days. The larvae drift in the ocean and metamorphose after 56-70 days into an adult fish. The young live in shallow tidal pools for up to 7 months before migrating to deeper water. As the larvae grows, its left eye moves to the right side of its head.

It lives for about 50 years.

European Plaice
European Plaice

Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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