Tench - Tinca Tinca

The slimy tench, member of the carp family, is a popular coarse fish that is widely distributed across the UK and Europe. During the Middle Ages it was believed that the slime covering the tench's body was able to cure all ailments due to the fact that other fish used to rub themselves up against this species.

The tench is generally a slow-growing fish, however, as Britain's water become warmer, these fish are growing bigger and bigger.

Tench Identification

The tench has a number of distinguishing features that makes it easily identifiable from other fish. Not only is its deep olive body colour with greenish brassy coloured flanks a complete giveaway, but its small bright red eyes also make it stand out.

The tench's deep body is covered in hundreds of tiny scales with approximately 100 across the lateral line. A thick layer of slime also appears on the body of this fish making it extremely smooth and silky to touch.

The fins of the tench are fairly rounded and large and the wrist of the tail is very thick. The large caudal fin almost has a straight edge but is ever so slightly concave.

The dorsal fin stands high and contains several hard rays plus a numer of softer ones.

The male and female of this species can be distinguished from each other as the pelvic fins differ in shape. On the male the fins resemble large spoons whilst the female's pelvic fins are longer and more triangular in appearance.

As the tench is a bottom-feeding fish it possesses a large rubbery mouth to match. The top lip is bigger than the bottom, which helps the fish sift through the gravel and silt of the river or lakebed to pick out its next meal. There is a very small barbule at each corner of its mouth and it contains numerous sharp pharyngeal teeth with which is crushes shells of molluscs when it feeds.

Tench Habitat

The tench is distributed all over Europe and Asia but this is generally by man's efforts and not because they are native to these areas. Across Europe and Asia but not in the UK, the tench is a popular species of fish to eat, which is why they are reared in many places.

The tench is commonly found from the Midlands down to the south coast of England as well as in Ireland, mainly in the centre. They are found in Wales and Scotland but only in a few locations.

The tench's preferred habitat is the gravel pit or other stillwaters such as lakes, as they are able to survive in waters with a low oxygen content. They are very rarely found in upland waters or fast-flowing rivers, being more common to sluggish rivers and shallow lakes or ponds with dense vegetation, aquatic weeds and plants.

Natural Tench Food

Tench prefer warmer waters and therefore are mainly active from May to September in the UK.

This means that they rarely feed during the winter months and spend much of this time hibernating in the mud on the riverbed.

As they are bottom-feeders their diet consists of many small invertebrates, molluscs, insects and insect larvae that are found dwelling on the bed of a river or lake including worms, mussels, pond snails and midge larvae. They are also known to feed on plant stems and occasionally some small fish.

Tench generally feed at dawn or dusk and release strings of small bubbles as they do so.

Tench Reproduction

Tench do not always spawn in the UK due to the fact that the water temperature is not always high enough. This species requires waters that reach 18°C - 20°C before the female is able to release her eggs, which usually takes place between June and August.

The female who is accompanied by a male deposits her eggs amongst the dense weeds, which then stick to the vegetation and hatch within a few days.

A female weighing approximately 3lb will produce about 200,000 small and sticky eggs.

Tench generally reach maturity at around 4 years.

The Tench's Vital Statistics

  • Average weight: 3lb (1.4kg)
  • Average length: 16 inches (40cm)
  • Specimen weight: 7lb (3.18kg)
  • Life-span: up to 20 years but usually around 15 years
  • Current UK record: 15lb 3oz (6.8kg), (Sheepwalk big pit, Middlesex)

Rivers with big tench include:


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