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Author Topic: Identifying Herring and Sprat - Differences Between the Two  (Read 2406 times)

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Online Thunderpants

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Identifying Herring and Sprat - Differences Between the Two
« on: January 08, 2015, 12:47:52 PM »


Herrings and sprats are separate species of the herring family (Clupeidae) as are shads. Herring and sprats look almost identical but the main differences between the two are as follows ....

1. Size
Herring grow larger than sprats.  Sprats only grow to 16cm long, but herring can grow to over 30cm so if your fish is bigger than 16cm it is a herring.

2. The belly scales
The sprat has pointed keel scales which feel prickly if you run your finger along them. A herring does not have these. So run your finger along its belly and if it feels smooth its a herring, if it feels prickly its a sprat.

3. The position of the pelvic fin
On a sprat the pelvic fin lines up with the front of the dorsal fin,  on a herring it is positioned further back.




So, if you catch one and it is over 16cm long it is a herring. If it is less than 16cm it could be either species so check the position of the pelvic fin (try to take a photograph of the fins for the Species Challenge if you can). Then run your finger along its belly - if it feels prickly/rough it is a sprat, if it feels smooth it is a small herring.


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