Dab – Limanda limanda

Biology Other Names: Limanda limanda, Common Dab


Dab-300x180Description: The dab is a right-eyed, oval shaped flatfish with a pale brown upper surface, often mottled or marked with small dark or orange spots, and a pale white underside.

Dabs have a fine, dark lateral line that forms a distinct semi-circular curve around the pectoral fin of the fish before straightening out towards the tail of the fish.

Dabs are often confused with small flounder and plaice due to variations in colouration; colouration in flatfish can vary greatly and as a result the presence or absence of spots is generally a poor identifying feature.

The most obvious identifying feature of dabs is the lateral line which is strongly curved around the pectoral fin. An alternative method of identification is by touch: when touched from head to tail dabs feel smooth all over, when touched from tail to head dabs are rough all over.

Maximum Size:  40cm  –  GFAC Size:  25cm

Habitat: Dabs are found over a wide range of habitats, most commonly over soft or mixed ground and from inshore waters out to depths of up to 100m.

Distribution: All over the UK.

Feeding: Dabs are opportunistic predators and feed mainly on small crustaceans, worms and fish. Juvenile fish feed mainly on small amphipods whilst mature dabs often feed on small fish, sandeels and molluscs.

Biology: Male dabs mature at around 2-3 years old (20cm) and females at 3-5 years old (20-25cm). In general fish spawn between January and August, females lay around 100,000 planktonic eggs at each spawning event. Dabs resemble a round-bodied fish when they first hatch, by around 1.5cm the fish’s eye has migrated and the fish begins to resemble a flatfish. After metamorphosis juvenile fish settle on the bottom and begin their demersal life. Dabs may live for 10-12 years.

Conservation Status: Dabs are classed as “least concern” by the IUCN.

Category: ID Guide

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