The sea bream, or gilthead bream, is a marine fish in the Sparidae family. Located predominately in the Meditteranean Sea, the fish is sometimes referred to as ‘Dorada’ in Mediterranean countries like Italy. In the realm of cooking, this type of bream is widely considered the most delicious in the family.

Featured image credit: Diego Delso (CC BY-SA)


The sea bream is a medium-sized fish. On average, they are around 35 cm or 1.15 ft. However, in favorable living conditions, these fish can reach up to 70 cm, or 2.3 ft. They have a deep body structure rather than a long, thin body type of a sea trout.


Sea bream are technically omnivores, as they will sometimes feed on sea plants and plant matter. However, they mostly are carnivorous, feasting on small crustaceans, such as shrimp.

The sea bream is a deep-bodied fish
The sea bream is a deep-bodied fish

Credit: Diego Delso (CC BY-SA)


The sea bream is in abundance in the Mediterranean Sea, and Southern Europe, and has a population in the Atlantic ocean also. They exist both in groups and as lone rangers, swimming through seagrass beds. They are also found frequently in estuaries.

The sea bream is not typically a deep-sea fish, as it tends to range between depths of 0-30 meters. However, they have been known to delve as deep as 150 meters.


Sea bream has an interesting approach to sexual reproduction. During their earlier years, from birth to 2 years, they are male but gradually turn into females in the third year. They are hermaphrodites. Once eggs are fertilized, they grow into their larval stage. This stage lasts around 50 days.

Sea bream are hermaphrodites
Sea bream are hermaphrodites

Credit: Brian Gratwicke (CC BY 2.0)


Like any farmed fish, it is hard for them to live to their potential. Although the sea bream has a life expectancy of around 11 years, due to farming and high demand, they only live around 2 years. However, uncaught, wild sea bream have got a far greater chance of living longer.


The main threat to the gilthead bream is overfishing, due to its popularity in many southern European countries, such as Italy, Portugal, and Greece. It has been reported that around 1000 tonnes of the species are taken out of the seas every year. However, there are aquaculture strategies in place to prevent population loss. Fish farming and controls on fishing do regulate the supply.

Facts about the Sea Bream

  • Sea bream are hermaphrodites, meaning they are both male and female during their life cycle.
  • They are also known as ‘Dorada’ in the Mediterranean.
  • Gilthead bream are considered the most flavorsome of the bream family.
  • Sea bream feed on small shrimp and other crustaceans.
  • Around 100 tonnes of sea bream are harvested per year for human consumption.


Is sea bream a good fish to eat?

In culinary circles, the sea bream is highly regarded for its taste and flavor. It is a fresh, meaty fish.

Is sea bream the same as sea bass?

In terms of their biology, the sea bass and sea bream are completely different species. In terms of their taste, they are white fish, but also different with sea bream being meatier compared to the sea bass.

What is another name for sea bream?

Sea bream has a variety of names. In the Mediterranean, they call it the ‘Dorada’ and the gilthead bream in other areas. In the past, it used to be called the ‘Orata.’

Are sea bream spines poisonous?

As the sea bream is such a widely enjoyed delicacy, it is safe to say that the spines are not poisonous to humans. However, it is not recommended to eat the spines due to their sharp nature.