Name: Three-spined Stickleback
Scientific name: Gasterosteus aculeatus
Nature Stars: 30
About: A small fish, 5-8cm long, found in ponds, lakes, ditches and rivers. The stickleback is an aggressive predator, feeding on invertebrates and other small animals, including tadpoles and smaller fish. Brownish above with silvery sides and belly. In the spring, the male develops a bright red throat and belly and does a courtship dance to attract a mate. He builds a sheltered nest out of vegetation, under which the female will lay her eggs, up to 400. The male then defends them and the nest from other fish until the young hatch up to 4 weeks later.
How to identify: The most likely fish to be caught when pond dipping. Identified by the three sharp spines on the back.
Where: Found throughout the country.
Fantastic fact: In the north, sticklebacks that live in large rivers migrate out to sea in the winter, returning to the rivers in the spring to spawn.
Photograph credit: Michel Roggo/naturepl