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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

European Plaice Pleuronectes platessa

The European plaice is the most important commercial flatfish for European fisheries. Heavy fishing, however, has resulted in a progressive reduction in the size and age of fish landed. The European plaice is a typical oval-shaped flatfish with long fins extending along both edges of its thin body. Flatfish have both eyes on one side of their body and are either “right-eyed” or “left-eyed.” European plaice are right-eyed: they lie on the sea bed with their left side down. Their upward-facing right side is brown with orange or red spots.

European plaice spend the day buried in the sand, emerging at night to feed on shellfish and crustaceans, which they crush using special teeth in the throat (pharyngeal teeth). Young European plaice are also expert at nipping off the breathing siphons of shellfish that they spot sticking up out of the sand.

European Plaicezoom image
  • Order Pleuronectiformes
  • Length Up to 3 ft (1 m)
  • Weight Up to 15 lb (7 kg)
  • Depth 0–655 ft (0–200 m)
  • Distribution Arctic Ocean, northeastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Black Sea
European Plaice habitat mapzoom image