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Flatfishes: Pleuronectiformes

Common Sole (solea Solea): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The eyes of common sole are on the right side of the head. The body is long and thick. On the eyeless side, the head and snout are covered with white bumps. The eye side is dark brown or grayish brown with darker blotches. The eyeless side is creamy white. The dorsal and anal fins are edged in white, and the pectoral fin on the eye side has an oval black patch. These fish reach a length of about 28 inches (70 centimeters) and a weight of about 6 pounds (3 kilograms), but most are 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 centimeters) long.

Geographic range: Common sole live in the Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Senegal.

Common sole spend the day partially buried or lying on the bottom. At night they sometimes move off the bottom. (Illustration by Wendy Baker. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Common sole live on soft sandy or muddy bottoms.

Diet: Common sole eat small, bottom-dwelling invertebrates, but sometimes they eat small fishes.

Behavior and reproduction: Common sole are bottom dwellers that live alone. They spend the day partially buried or lying on the bottom. At night they sometimes move off the bottom. Common sole can reproduce when they are three to five years old. Spawning grounds are in both shallow and deep waters. The eggs float in open water. Common sole live seven to eight years.

Common sole and people: Common sole is an important food fish.

Conservation status: Common sole are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Schultz, Ken. Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Saltwater Fish. New York: Wiley, 2004.

Web sites:

"The Flounders and Soles." Fishes of the Gulf of Maine. http://www.gma.org/fogm/flounders_soles.htm (accessed on November 9, 2004).

"Halibut." Seafood Choices Alliance. http://www.seafoodchoices.com/seasense/halibut.shtml (accessed on November 9, 2004).

Jamal, Rina Abdul. "Eye Travel." AnimalFact.com. http://www.animalfact.com/article1012.htm (accessed on November 8, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesFlatfishes: Pleuronectiformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Peacock Flounder (bothus Lunatus): Species Accounts, Pacific Halibut (hippoglossus Stenolepis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, FLATFISHES AND PEOPLE,