Ruffe - Gymnocephalus cernuus

    Alt Name

    The average size is between 4 and 5 inches but can grow larger. It has quite large eyes and a small, slightly down turned mouth with bristly teeth. The body is an olive green or pale brown colour speckled with dark spots decreasing in size fading to a whitish underbelly. The Ruffe has two dorsal fins that are joined; the forward dorsal fin has sharp spines just like that of the perch and the back fin is made up of soft rays. The gill covers of Ruffe are also sharp and spiny.

    Identification difficulty
    Recording advice

    Unless identified by a recognised expert, a photo is required. If the photo doesn't show the key ID features then in the comments box describe the size and identifying characters you have observed.


    It can be found in fresh or brackish waters, in rivers, canals, lakes and ponds although they seem to prefer slow moving rivers.

    When to see it

    All year round.

    Life History

    The Ruffe is generally a shoaling fish and is most active around dawn and dusk feeding on insects, larvae, worms and small fry fish.

    UK Status

    Widespread and fairly frequent in England, mainly in an area from London north to north Yorkshire.

    VC55 Status

    Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland.

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map