Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)

Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)

A prominent coarse fish, the rudd is widely sought by European anglers but is barely known to most North Americans. It is a member of the large Cyprinidae family, which includes minnows and carp, and is of similar size and color to its relative the roach.


The rudd is somewhat cylindrical, yet deep bodied. It has a moderately forked tail and an upturned mouth. The scales are strongly marked, the back is dark brown, and the sides are golden brown, tapering to a white belly. The pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins are reddish orange, and the dorsal and tail fins are dusky. The rudd has 8 to 9 dorsal rays, 10 to 11 anal rays, and eyes that are red or have a red spot.

The rudd may be confused with the roach; however, the pectoral fins of the roach lack the reddish-orange color, and the body is more silvery. It is similar in appearance to the golden shiner (see: Shiner, Golden) but is distinguished from that species by its scaled ventral keel. Size. The maximum size for rudd is in the 4- to 5-pound range, although fish of that nature are rare. A 2-pound rudd is typically a large one.

Life history/Behavior

Spawning takes place in heavy weeds in spring, when rudd broadcast numerous adhesive eggs, rather than construct a nest. The fry stay in schools and gather in large congregations, and they provide forage for numerous predators. Rudd remain a schooling fish as adults. Their schools generally consist of similar-size individuals.

Food and feeding habits

Rudd feed on snails, aquatic insects, and small fish and spend a lot of time in beds of vegetation. They are largely surface feeders, but they also feed on the bottom and at mid-depths. Many rudd are observed taking food from the surface or from the under-sides of aquatic plants.

Other Names

European rudd; German: rotfeder; Italian: scardola. Distribution. Rudd range from western Europe to the Caspian and Aral Sea basins but are absent from Russia; they have been introduced to the United States.


Pools, canals, lakes, and slow-running rivers with muddy bottoms are the prime locations for rudd. They spend much time in or along the edges of vegetation.