Ecology of Gasterosteus aculeatus
Main Ref. Banister, K., 1986
Remarks Shoaling species outside the breeding season, especially when young. Inhabits vegetated areas, usually over mud or sand (Ref. 5723). In the sea, confined to coastal waters. Forms schools. Eggs are found in nests constructed from plant material (Ref. 41678). Anadromous and nerito-pelagic (Ref. 58426). Feeds on worms, crustaceans, larvae and adult aquatic insects, drowned aerial insects, and small fishes; has also been reported to feed on their own fry and eggs (Ref. 1998). Length in freshwater is 8 cm while in saltwater is 11 cm (Ref. 35388). Preyed upon by American mergansers.

Aquatic zones / Water bodies

Marine - Neritic Marine - Oceanic Brackishwater Freshwater
Marine zones / Brackish and freshwater bodies
  • supra-littoral zone
  • littoral zone
  • sublittoral zone
  • epipelagic
  • mesopelagic
  • epipelagic
  • abyssopelagic
  • hadopelagic
  • estuaries/lagoons/brackish seas
  • mangroves
  • marshes/swamps
  • rivers/streams
  • lakes/ponds
  • caves
  • exclusively in caves
Highighted items on the list are where Gasterosteus aculeatus may be found.


Substrate Soft Bottom: sand; mud;
Substrate Ref. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991
Special habitats vegetation
Special habitats Ref. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991


Ref. Scott, W.B. and M.G. Scott, 1988
Associated with Young associated with drifting seaweed (Ref. 12114, 12115). Parasites of the species include 5 protozoans, 2 myxosporidians, 4 monogeneans, 12 trematodes, 7 cestodes, 4 nematodes, 2 acanthocephalans, 1 mollusc, 1 branchiuran and 2 copepods (Ref. 5951).
Association remarks


Feeding type mainly animals (troph. 2.8 and up)
Feeding type Ref. Blegvad, H., 1917
Feeding habit hunting macrofauna (predator)
Feeding habit Ref. Blegvad, H., 1917
Trophic Level(s)
Estimation method Original sample Unfished population Remark
Troph s.e. Troph s.e.
From diet composition 3.31 0.18 3.41 0.39 Troph of adults from 2 studies.
From individual food items 3.38 0.46 Trophic level estimated from a number of food items using a randomized resampling routine.
Ref. Blegvad, H., 1917
(e.g. 346)
(e.g. cnidaria)
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