Fish Profiles: Three-Spined Stickleback

Fish Profiles: Three-Spined Stickleback

In this blog we take a look at a firm favourite of the British countryside stream - the three spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus.

Scientific name: Gasterosteus aculeatus
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Gasterosteidae
Phylum: Chordata
Average size: 8cm (freshwater) to 11cm (marine)
Origin: Northern Hemisphere


The stickleback is one fish many regard fondly, particularly those familiar with the British countryside and small waterways. The stickleback takes many of us back to our childhoods and long summer days netting in streams!

Sticklebacks are highly adaptable to water conditions and can inhabit freshwater, brackish and marine environments and will feed on a wide range of insects, insect larvae, crustaceans and even small fry.

stickel backs

The three-spined stickleback is commonly found in slower-moving streams, lakes, ditches and pond habitats. If you're thinking of keeping some in captivity, go for an aquarium of at least 2f x 1ft square, or 60 x 30 x30 cm with plenty of native aquatic plants. They can equally be kept in garden ponds but must be added during summer for the best chance of successful acclimatizing.

Ideal water parameters to keep sticklebacks are 6.8 - 8.5 pH, at a temperature between 4-20°C. Sticklebacks are generally peaceful if somewhat skittish, and can be territorial when breeding.

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Photo credit(s): Canva Pro Licence

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