Gilt-head bream

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Gilt-head bream
Sparus aurata Sardegna.jpg
Sparus aurata
Sparus aurata.jpg
Scientific classification

S. aurata
Binomial name
Sparus aurata
Sparus aurata mapa.svg
Sparus aurata - Distribution map

The gilt-head (sea) bream (Sparus aurata), called Orada in antiquity and still today in Italy (while in Spain is "Dorada"), is a fish of the bream family Sparidae found in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern coastal regions of the North Atlantic Ocean. It commonly reaches about 35 centimetres (1.15 ft) in length, but may reach 70 cm (2.3 ft) and weigh up to about 7.36 kilograms (16.2 lb). [2]


The gilt-head bream is generally considered the best-tasting of the breams. It is the single species of the genus Sparus – the Latin name for this fish [3] – which has given the whole family of Sparidae its name. Its specific name, aurata, derives from the gold bar marking between its eyes.

The genome of the species was released in 2018, where the authors detected fast evolution of ovary-biased genes likely resulting from the peculiar reproduction mode of the species. [4]


The gilt-head bream at Spiaggia de La Pelosa on the north west coast of Sardinia, Italy. SardinianFish.jpg
The gilt-head bream at Spiaggia de La Pelosa on the north west coast of Sardinia, Italy.

It is typically found at depths of 0–30 metres (0–98 ft), but may occur up to 150 m (490 ft), [2] seen singly or in small groups near seagrass or over sandy bottoms, but sometimes in estuaries during the spring. [2]

It mainly feeds on shellfish, but also some plant material. [2]

Fisheries and aquaculture

Part of a gilt-head bream

Gilthead seabream is an esteemed food fish, but catches of wild fish have been relatively modest, between 6,100 and 9,600 tonnes in 2000–2009, primarily from the Mediterranean. [5] In addition, gilthead seabream have traditionally been cultured extensively in coastal lagoons and saltwater ponds. However, intensive rearing systems were developed during the 1980s, and gilthead seabream has become an important aquaculture species, primarily in the Mediterranean area and Portugal. Reported production was negligible until the late 1980s, but reached 140,000 tonnes in 2010, thus dwarfing the capture fisheries production. [6] Greece is the biggest seabream producer in Europe, followed by Turkey. [7]

Gilthead seabream in aquaculture are susceptible to parasitic infections, including from Enterospora nucleophila .


grilled Orata Bronzini eataly.png
grilled Orata

The fish is widely used in Mediterranean cooking, under a variety of names. In Tunisia, it is known locally as "Dorate".

Related Research Articles

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Australasian snapper Species of fish

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Red porgy Species of fish

The red porgy, or common seabream, is a species of marine ray-finned fish in the family Sparidae. It is found in shallow waters on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, being present on the western coast of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea as well as the eastern coasts of North and South America and the Caribbean Sea. It feeds on or near the seabed and most individuals start life as females and later change sex to males.

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Bream may mean:

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Aquaculture in South Korea

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Blackspot seabream Species of fish

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<i>Enteromyxum leei</i> Species of marine parasite

Enteromyxum leei is a species of myxozoan, histozoic parasite that infects the intestinal tract and sometimes associated organs, like gall bladder and liver, of several teleostean fish species. Myxozoans are microscopic metazoans, with an obligate parasitic life-style. The parasite stages of this species live in the paracelullar space between fish enterocytes. It is the causative agent of enteromyxosis, or emaciative disease, also known as "razor blade syndrome" in sparid fish. E. leei has a wide host and geographical range within marine fish, and even freshwater fish have been infected experimentally. E. leei initially emerged in the Mediterranean in the late 1980s and it is believed to have been unintentionally introduced into the Red Sea. Its pathogenicity and economic impact depend on the host species. In the gilt-head seabream, it is manifested as a chronic disease that provokes anorexia, delayed growth with weight loss, cachexia, reduced marketability and increased mortality. In other species, it has no clinical signs. In sharpsnout seabream, infection results in very high mortality rates, which have pushed fish farmers to abandon the culture of this fish species.

<i>Ceratothoa oestroides</i> A parasitic marine isopod

C. oestroides is a crustacean isopod, obligate ectoparasite of marine fish that dwells in the buccal cavity. It is the causative agent of various pathologies including tissue damage at the parasitisation site (tongue), growth defects, decrease in mean host weight and size and increases mortalities in farmed and wild fish populations. It has been recorded in six different fish families: Sparidae, Carangidae, Clupeidae, Maenidae, Scorpenidae, and Mugilidae.


  1. NatureServe (2013). "Sparus aurata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2010). "Sparus aurata" in FishBase . October 2010 version.
  3. sparus. Charlton T. Lewis; Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary. Perseus Project.
  4. Pauletto, Marianna; Manousaki, Tereza; Ferraresso, Serena; Babbucci, Massimiliano; Tsakogiannis, Alexandros; Louro, Bruno; Vitulo, Nicola; Quoc, Viet Ha; Carraro, Roberta (2018-08-17). "Genomic analysis of Sparus aurata reveals the evolutionary dynamics of sex-biased genes in a sequential hermaphrodite fish". Communications Biology. 1 (1): 119. doi:10.1038/s42003-018-0122-7. ISSN   2399-3642. PMC   6123679 . PMID   30271999.
  5. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2011). Yearbook of fishery and aquaculture statistics 2009. Capture production (PDF). Rome: FAO. p. 163.
  6. "Sparus aurata (Linnaeus, 1758)". Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Retrieved 22 September 2012.