Latin name

Sparus aurata

Other names

Dorado (Spanish).


Body oval, torso flattened at the sides with a steep head profile, with a distinct sharp projection above the eyes. Large serrate scales, head also covered with scales. Gill covers without spines, pre-cap margin smooth. Small lower mouth. Jaws only slightly forward, upper jaw slightly longer. Both jaws have 4-6 strong teeth in front, followed by sharp, curved teeth, followed by two rows of masticatory teeth. Mandible and palatine bones toothless. Long, undivided dorsal fin with 11 barbed and 13-14 soft rays. Anal fin with 3 barb rays and 11-12 soft rays. Pectoral fin with 1 barb and 5 soft rays. Colour silvery grey. Fin with pink tinge. Caudal fin with dark central band and white tips. 


Occurrence: Mediterranean Sea; adjacent Atlantic area; Bay of Biscay; Irish Sea; North Sea. Very rarely in the Black Sea. 


Bottom dwelling (benthopelagic) fish. Prefers rocky and gravel bottoms with water temperatures of 0.6-24.6°C.


Maximum length is 70 cm and mass is 17.2 kg. The maximum life expectancy is 11 years.

Life history and Behavior

Juvenile fish usually live in schools close to the shore, but when they reach maturity they disperse and live alone. The exception is sometimes fish that live in areas of seasonal migration - they swim in schools from place to place at once. During spawning they almost stop sleeping. A female can lay between 20 and 80 thousand eggs. They are very small, less than 1 mm, so few survive. 

Food and feeding habits

It feeds mainly on fish, crustaceans and molluscs.


It is a protandric hermaphrodite, i.e. young individuals at the age of 1-2 years (20-30 cm long) are males and older ones turn into females. The spawning season is from October to December. Spawning is in portions. At a length of 5-9 mm, the larvae have a characteristic bony edge over the eyes and a barbed gill cover; only at a length of about 1.5 cm do they take on adult form and move closer to the coast.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Spariformes
Family Sparidae
Genus Sparus
Species S. aurata
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Bottom
Life span, years 11
Maximum body weight, kg 17,2
Maximum length, cm 70
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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