Black Sea Bream

Spondyliosoma cantharus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Fish and sharks
  3. Black Sea Bream


The Black Sea Bream is an omnivorous fish, eating seaweeds and small invertebrates.
Reaching sexual maturity at 2-3 years, the male (normally completely black in colour) will excavate a nest in the sand using its tail. Spawning occurs during April and May, where the bream will lay eggs into the nest. This is a widely distributed species with a range that stretches from Norway to North Africa. The black sea bream is a very important commercially harvested fish food fish in Europe.

How to identify

A large silvery fish, with an oval shape. Shaded bands running along the length of the upper flanks. It has a long single dorsal and anal fin and a small mouth. The tail is large and forked displaying a black band on it, most obviously noticeable on juveniles. Juveniles usually have numerous broken yellow stripes running along the body. Spawning males are nearly completely black in colour.

Where to find it

Found off south west Britain, eastern Ireland, the Irish Sea and the English Channel. Can be found around habitats of seagrass beds, rocky and sandy bottoms down to 300m, usually found aggregating around wrecks.


When to find it

  • January

How can people help

The black sea bream is an important comercial fish, and is considered not the most sustainable of fish species; however stocks are in a healthy state. You can help by being careful about what you choose in the supermarket - go for sustainably produced fish and shellfish, preferably with the Marine Stewardship Council's logo. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives.

Species information

Common name
Black Sea Bream
Latin name
Spondyliosoma cantharus
Fish and sharks
Length: Usually 35-40cm, at maximum - 60cm. Lifespan: 15 years
Conservation status
Considered of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of species.