Latin name: Scophthalmus rhombus
Record weight: One of the smaller species of flatfish, the boat caught brill record is a huge fish of 16lb exactly, whilst the shore caught best lies some-way behind at only 7lb 7oz 8 drams.
Distribution: Found throughout the North Atlantic, although mainly in deeper water off-shore. Like all flat fish, brill are mainly found over clean sand and mud sea beds where they are able to bury themselves below the surface and hunt effectively.
Features: Quite a small flat fish, yet one that shares the rounded form of it's larger cousins. Generally lays with its left hand flank uppermost. Unlike the turbot the upper body surface is covered with small scales, not the bony tubercles of the larger species. Brill have a dark mottled appearance, although the colour is variable and dependant upon the colour of the sea bed, which it matches quite closely.
Diet: Like most flat fish, brill feed primarily upon small crustaceans, particularly shrimps, but will also take polycheate worms and young fish when locally available.
Spawning: Like most flatfish, brill move inshore in the spring to spawn in shallow water. Several hundred thousand tiny eggs are laid by each female, which are fertilised externally by the males. The eggs are positively buoyant and drift in the near-shore currents for a week or so before hatching. After a couple of months of feeding on plankton in the water column the tiny brill will be around 10mm in length. At this stage they begin the metamorphosis from a vertical life to a horizontal position. Over the next few weeks the right eye will migrate around to the left side of the body and the left side of the body become pigmented. By the time the fish are 15mm in length they resemble tiny adults and will be spending their time on the sea bed.
Growth: Brill are a relatively small species of flatfish, growing quite slowly and not living to a great age. Fish become catchable after around four years and a large specimen may be ten years old.