Phylum: Chordata - Class: Actinopterygii - Order: Cypriniformes - Family: Cyprinidae
Commonly found in canals, ponds and slow to moderately fast-flowing streams, gudgeon are very adaptable and among the more tolerant of fishes to disturbance - for example from passing boat traffic. They often shoal and invariably remain on the bottom, where their mouths are ideally adapted for grubbing for food in the silt. Bloodworms, the larvae of Chirononmid midges ( non-biting midges not those other little pests!) are the staple diet of these relatively short-lived coarse fish. (They rarely live to be much older than five or six years.)
These small, barbel-like cyprinids (carp family) fish rarely grow to more than eight inches (20cm) in length and most mature at around half that size. They spawn between April and July, are often a young angler's first introduction to the thrills of fishing. Gudgeon have two barbules at the side of the mouth, whereas barbel have four - a useful identification feature if in doubt whether you have caught a gudgeon or a small barbel.
The British rod-caught record gudgeon, a 5oz (0.141kg) specimen was caught on the River Nadder, in Wiltshire by Mr D H Hull in 1990.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Dr Nick Giles.