Common Bream

Abramis brama

Common bream, courtesy of Jack Perks

Characteristics

Bream are a very common and widespread species of fish found in most rivers in Central and Northern Europe. Like the barbel, it has small Barbula next to its down-turned, protractile mouth making it ideally suited to bottom feeding. Young Bream can superficially look like other similar silver fish like Roach and Dace, but from their side profile they appear to have more of a diamond shape compared to most other freshwater fish species. As they mature they adopt a more bronze colour and grow deeper to appear more disk shaped.  

Diet

As omnivorous bottom feeders, bream will eat a wide variety of food found in the mud and silt in the riverbed. They ’dig’ into the substrate to pick out any morsels like Mosquito Larvae, Caddisfly Larvae and Freshwater Shrimp, as well as plant-based food like pondweed and fallen berries. When larger food is in short supply they are able to and filter fine sediment through their gill rakers to pick out microscopic prey. Young bream are numerous and slower than similar silver fish so they are easy prey for birds like Heron and Cormorant. Because of the shape and size of mature fish they become less edible for birds, but are a more appealing and substantial meal for mammals like Otters. 

 

Habitat

Bream are well adapted to deep areas in slow-moving or still water, but can be seen ‘basking’ in the surface areas on hot, sunny days. They are most common on the River Severn south of Shrewsbury where the soft silt and deeper water enable them to feed and spawn. They are very common in canals. 

 

Did you know?

Bream predominantly a bottom feeder can sometimes be seen rolling on the surface. This spectacle only occurs rarely and the reason why they do this is not understood. Such events have been witnessed on the Severn continuing for hundreds of metres with the surface erupting as huge shoals of bream roll on the surface. Silver bream is another species of freshwater fish and they are also found in the UK. 

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