Fact File:

Common Name(s):
Butterfish, Gunnel

Scientific Name:
Pholis gunnellus

Usual Size:
> 25cm

UK Record Weights from rod/line:



MAFF Minimum Size: Shore: Boat:

Small eel-like fish. Distinguished by a row of ocellated eye spots (9 - 15) underneath the long dorsal fin that runs the length of its body. Orange-brown.
Similar species: Common Eel, and Eelpout  Zoarces viviparus.

Winter - spring. Eggs guarded by the male fish, intertidally (north) to 25 metres.

Benthic, shallow seas, intertidal except summer.

worms, small crustaceans like amphipods.

All British coasts. Common in the north and only occasionally found intertidally in the extreme south-west. Very common off some Scottish coasts.

Additional Notes:

Northern fish so unable to tolerate living on the shore during the summer, where it is common under stones in the spring and autumn. Often infected with the Black-spot disease Cryptocotyle lingua. Eaten by otters off Scottish coast. Mucus covered scale-less body is veryslippery, hence its name. Impossible to grab hold of by the inexperienced.

Information wanted:
Please send any records of this fish, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to Shorewatch Project EMail


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