Age analysis of fish

Last changed: 04 December 2020
Age tissues. Photo.

The Department of Aquatic Resources analyses the age of more than 50.000 individuals yearly, from more than 20 species from rivers and lakes, marine and coastal areas. Age reading is done by analysing tissues like otoliths (ear stones), scales and operculum bones, counting annual rings (growth rings).

Why and how do we analyse the age of fish?

Knowing the age of fish help explaining population dynamics, size distribution and how fish react on environmental and climate changes. The age of fish also gives us important information on recruitment, size and growth of fish, survival and how fishery affects fish stocks.

Otoliths are used to determine the age of most species. The otoliths are prepared and analysed in various ways, depending on species. For example, otoliths from cod, trout and char are analysed unprepared (whole), from perch and whitefish the otoliths are burnt and cracked, from herring, roach and eel the otoliths are mounted in plastic and then sliced or grinded before analysis. Growth can be measured using additional tissues, using scales for roach and herring, and operculum bones for perch.

Age reading is done using a microscope, stereo microscope or a microfiche

Working with age analysis, includes quality assurance, continual progress, method development and documentation. 

Ageing of fish is done within research programmes, and environmental monitoring and assessment. The department’s ageing laboratories carry out assignments on behalf of EU, the provincial governments, municipalities and fishing associations.


Carina Jernberg, Head of Unit
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Marine Research, SLU, +46 10 478 4025, +46 761-26 80 16

Martina Blass, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Analyst
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of coastal research, SLU, +46 10 478 41 18

Magnus Kokkin, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Analyst
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Freshwater Research, SLU, +46 10 478 42 35