Gudgeon ©Jack Perks


Scientific name: Gobio gobio
The gudgeon is a bottom-dwelling fish, similar to the stone loach, but with only two whisker-like barbels near its mouth. These sensory organs help it to find its prey in the sand and gravel of the riverbed.

Species information


Length: 7-15cm
Weight: 14-140g
Average Lifespan: 3-5 years

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


A small, slender fish, the gudgeon has two moustache-like 'barbels' around its mouth which it uses to detect its prey among the sand and gravel on the riverbed. Found in sandy and gravelly canals, rivers and streams, it is a bottom-feeder, hunting out small invertebrates, such as mayfly larvae and freshwater shrimps, as well as fish eggs. It spawns during spring and summer; the female lays sticky eggs among weeds and stones that hatch out about 10 days after being fertilised.

How to identify

The gudgeon is similar to the stone loach, but has a deeply forked tail and only two barbels near its mouth. It has a dark back, dark bars along its flanks, and a speckled, pale belly.


Widespread in lowland England, but rarer in Wales and Scotland.

Did you know?

Gudgeon-fishing picnics were popular on the River Thames in the 19th century. This small fish was historically eaten whole, just like Whitebait.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work with planners, water companies, landowners, statutory bodies and anglers to help make our waterways and waterbodies as good for wildlife as they are for people. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.