Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Territorial; found in inshore waters, especially sandy bays and beaches, including the inter-tidal zone and estuaries; rarely offshore. Alternate between lying buried in the sandy substrate and swimming in schools in the water mass. Adults feed on zooplankton and some large diatoms (Ref. 3397). They hibernate in winter buried in sand at depths of 20-50 cm (Ref. 35388).
  • Bauchot, M.-L. 1987 Poissons osseux. p. 891-1421. In W. Fischer, M.L. Bauchot and M. Schneider (eds.) Fiches FAO d'identification pour les besoins de la pêche. (rev. 1). Méditerranée et mer Noire. Zone de pêche 37. Vol. II. Commission des Communautés Européennes and FAO, Rome. (Ref. 3397)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=3397&speccode=2504 External link.
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Description

 The lesser sand eel is long and thin with a pointed jaw and a maximum length of 20 cm. They are yellowish green on the back with occasional bluish tint. The lower sides and belly are silver, giving the fish an overall silvery appearance. Body completely covered in scales, with the scales forming oblique lines of tight chevrons on the underside. There is a single long dorsal fin, and the anal fin is half the length of the dorsal fin. The tail fin is small and distinctively forked. The lower jaw is longer than the upper and there are no teeth in the roof of the mouth.Ammodytes tobianus is the most abundant species of sand eel found in British waters. It has been reported to spawn in spring and summer (Dipper, 2001) or spring and autumn (FishBase, 2000). Eggs are laid in the sand where they adhere to the sand grains. Each female produces 4000-20,000 eggs, which hatch after a few weeks. Their diet consists of zooplankton and some large diatoms as well as worms, small crustaceans and small fish. They swim in schools with heads down and dart into the sand immediately on sign of danger.

 Sand eel species are difficult to distinguish underwater (Dipper, 2001). However, if specimens are available, the greater sand eel Hyperoplus lanceolatus can be distinguished from Ammodytes tobianus by presence of teeth in the roof of the mouth and by its inability to protrude its upper jaw. Individuals may reach 7 years of age but 4 years is more common.

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Distribution

Baltic Sea, North Sea, Eastern North Atlantic: Iceland and Norway to Portugal (strays into western Mediterranean Sea).
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Northeast Atlantic: Murmansk to Spain, including Iceland and the Baltic (Ref. 4674) and the Mediterranean (Ref. 39911). Two distinct but often sympatric spawning groups exist in the area but have not been given subspecies status although spawning groups differ in mean vertebral number (autumn higher than spring), otolith structure, and probably habitats.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 49 - 58; Analsoft rays: 24 - 32; Vertebrae: 60 - 68
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Size

Maximum size: 200 mm SL
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Max. size

20.0 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 3397)); max. reported age: 7 years (Ref. 729)
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Diagnostic Description

Scales present in the midline anterior to dorsal fin and over the musculature at base of caudal fin. Belly scales in tight chevron. Margins of dorsal and anal fins straight with rays of equal length. Lateral line pores linearly arranged along the un branched canals. Back typically sandy brown.
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

demersal; brackish; marine; depth range 1 - 96 m (Ref. 57178)
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Depth range based on 1452 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 930 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -9 - 147
  Temperature range (°C): 5.888 - 12.348
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.194 - 16.868
  Salinity (PPS): 6.114 - 35.525
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.262 - 8.308
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.247 - 0.890
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.816 - 11.941

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -9 - 147

Temperature range (°C): 5.888 - 12.348

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.194 - 16.868

Salinity (PPS): 6.114 - 35.525

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.262 - 8.308

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.247 - 0.890

Silicate (umol/l): 1.816 - 11.941
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Found from mid-tide level over sandy shores to the shallow sublittoral to depths of 30 metres. They bury themselves 20-50 cm deep in the sand during the winter.
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Trophic Strategy

Feeds on phytoplankton and zooplankton (Ref. 4674). Found in inshore waters, rarely offshore. Alternates between lying buried in the sand and swimming in schools in the water mass.
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Associations

Known predators

Ammodytes tobianus (Ammodytes tobianus sandeel) is prey of:
Phalacrocorax carbo
Ardea cinerea
Sterna sandvicensis
Sterna hirundo
Sterna paradisaea
Platichthys flesus
Hemiuris communis
Hysterothylacium aduncum

Based on studies in:
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Known prey organisms

Ammodytes tobianus (Ammodytes tobianus sandeel) preys on:
Crangon crangon
Nereis diversicolor
Copepoda
Balanus balanoides
Neomysis integer
Gammarus
Jaera albifrons
Pygospio elegans
Littorina saxatilis
Mytilus edulis

Based on studies in:
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ammodytes tobianus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 18
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: highly commercial; bait: usually; price category: low; price reliability: questionable: based on ex-vessel price for species in this genus
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Wikipedia

Lesser sand eel

The lesser sand eel or sand lance, Ammodytes tobianus, is a species of fish in the sand lance family Ammodytidae. It is an elongated cylindrical fish which may be up to 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long.[1]

Description[edit]

The body of the lesser sand eel has an elongated shape with a rounded cross section. The head is also elongated and pointed, and the sharp prominent lower jaw projects further than the upper jaw. When the mouth is opened, the two jaws form a tube through which food is sucked in. The top of the fish's mouth lacks teeth.[1] The scales of the belly make a chevron pattern. The dorsal fin is long and ribbon-like, the pectoral fins are small and low set, and there are no pelvic fins.[1] The caudal fin is bifurcated in shape. The skin color is greenish yellow on the back, yellowish on the upper sides, and a mixture of a brilliant silver on the lower sides and belly.[1] This fish can be distinguished from the greater sand eel by its smaller size (less than 20 cm (8 in)) and the fact that the origin of the long dorsal fin starts approximately in line with the tip of the pectoral fin.[2]

Behavior[edit]

Breeding, can vary to which race they are native, and usually happens from February to April, or from September through into November.[1] Adult forms become mature in 1 to 2 years (8 cm+), and will live 7 years or more.[1] It habitates from mid-tide level below to around 30m in inshore waters, that have clean and sandy bottoms. It is commonly found swimming in huge shoals that rapidly burrows in sand if alarmed.[1] It is nocturnal, spending the day buried in the sand and emerging at dusk to feed.[2]

It eats zooplankton, larvae of fish, crustaceans, and other smaller invertebrates.[1] In addition, it is found all throughout the coasts of the British Isles.[1] Sand eels are an important part of the diet of many seabirds. Excessive fishing of sand eels on an industrial scale in the North Sea has been linked to a decline in the breeding success of kittiwakes, terns, fulmars and shags.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Lesser Sandeel". Retrieved 2006-12-01. 
  2. ^ a b "Lesser sandeel: Ammodytes tobianus". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  3. ^ Urquhart, Frank (2013-12-01). "Sandeel fishing linked to Scottish seabird decline". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • [1] "The 2004 breeding season will go down as the worst in living memory for Fair Isle’s seabirds (Table 2). Numbers of birds attempting to breed were at their lowest levels for many species (Table 1) and very few chicks were seen. Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake, Arctic Skua, Arctic Tern and Common Tern all failed to fledge any young whilst just a single Great Skua fledged from a pitiful 96 AOT (Apparently Occupied Territories). As in most years of poor productivity, it is a lack of Lesser Sandeel (the staple diet of nearly all seabirds in Shetland) that is at the root of the problem."
  • Svenning, M.-A., Borgstrøm, R., Dehli, T.O., Moen, G., Pedersen, T., Barrett, R.T. & Vader, W. 2005. Large numbers of lesser sandeel (Ammodytes marinus) available as prey for marine fishes enhance the survival of Atlantic salmon smolts (Salmo salar) as they leave the Tana river, North Norway. - Fisheries Research 76: 466-474.
  • Fishmeal Production
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