European bitterling

The European bitterling is a small, silver fish commonly found throughout Europe, extending from the Rhone River basin in France to the Neva River in Russia. This freshwater fish species inhabit temperate still or slow-moving water like rivers, ponds, canals, and the shallows of lakes. The European bitterling lives amongst dense aquatic vegetation and sand-silt bottoms where they feed on plants and, to a lesser degree, worms, crustaceans, and insect larvae.

Living amongst the presence of mussels is of particular importance to the European bitterling, as they lay and fertilize their eggs within the protection of the mussel’s valves. The fry remains in the mussel until they are grown enough to adventure out on their own. These small fish grow no larger than 10 cm long and are popular sightings amongst divers visiting shallow, European freshwater dive sites. Check out the dive site map below to see where European bitterlings occur nearest you.