The general otolith shape is oval and pointed. The sulcus is straight and open and runs along the full length of the otolith, just above the centre of the otolith. Ostium and cauda are distinguishable, and ostium is shorter but wider. The surface of the inside, sulcus and outside is smooth. The margins are slightly lobate. The posterior margin is rounded and indented at the cauda. The rostrum of the otolith is well developed and pointed, while the antirostrum is indistinct. The otolith is thin and flat at the inside and somewhat concave at the outside. Otoliths are usually not longer than 5 mm.
The otoliths of sand-smelt are similar to salmoniformes such as argentine Argentina sphyraena, greater argentine Argentina silus and smelt Osmerus eperlanus. The sulcus of argentine and greater argentine is less well developed as in sand-smelt otoliths. Otoliths of sand-smelt have a round rostrum compared to argentinidae and the general shape of the otolith is also much rounder in sand-smelt. Otoliths of smelt are much thicker than the delicate otoliths of sand-smelt.
On eroded otoliths, the sulcus and rostrum remain distinct. The margins are smoothed.
Fish length and distribution
Sand-smelt can grow up to 21 cm. Sand-smelt is a common schooling fish (ATHEPRES.TIF) found inshore and in estuaries. It spawns from April to July (Wheeler, 1978, Nijssen and De Groot, 1987, Muus et al., 1999).
Sand-smelt is found in the NE Atlantic and North Sea.