Dover soles: Characteristics, habitats, reproduction and more..

Learn through this post everything related to these wonderful fish known as Dover soles, common sole or solea solea in scientific terms.


Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Pleuronectiformes Family: Soleidae Genus: Solea Species: S. solea

Dover Soles’ Main Characteristics

At birth Dover soles have a bilateral symmetry, but when they start to develop, their left eye moves to the right side, until both eyeballs are positioned there. Perhaps for this reason they spend a good part of their time suspended in the water bed on the blind side, which is white. Dover soles have the ability to vary their nuances to camouflage and thus improve hunting.


Another distinctive trait of this species relies on its protruding lips in a «fitted» mouth with teeth concentrated at the margins of its jaws, and bordered by tiny warts.

Their head is compact and round, just like their eyes while their swim is totally vertical. When resting on the sand Dover soles catch a diversity of prey, using their tactile members on their left-handed side. We invite u to read our article the anatomy of fish to learn more about such a topic

Let’s watch it

Dover Soles’ Habitat and Feeding Habits

It is common to find soles in coastal areas, bays or port areas especially tropical ones. Young specimens inhabit at around 300 meters deep, while adults swim between 10 and 80 meters.

Their biggest activity occurs at nightfall, as they «bury» themselves in broad daylight. They easily tolerate their life in an aquarium.

The eastern Atlantic Ocean, from southern Norway to Senegal and almost the entire Mediterranean Sea, is the main distribution area of ​​this species although during winter they retreat to the warmer waters of the southern North Sea.

As for their nutrition, they are known to be creatures of insatiable appetite that catch any prey that passes unattended near them. Their diet is made up by tiny fish, prawns, shrimp, crabs and invertebrates that abound in the depths.

How Do Dover Soles Reproduce?

Spawning occurs at the bottom of the sea, between May and August when the females place thousands of eggs inside the bed, so that the males take charge of fertilizing them.

It is estimated that the female spawns around 3 million eggs annually which after being fertilized float in the water, but sink as they grow.

After 15 days the eggs are broken, and a larva leaves each one of them which remain floating in the sea, until after 6 weeks. Later their body becomes smaller, the eyes move to the left side, and their teeth «move» to the white area of ​​the body. Dover Soles have a black spot on the fin of their chest that differentiates them from other solitary fish.

Let’s watch one of them

Common Confusions

Sometimes in the market you get fish with these characteristics that are sold as if they were dove soles when they are not. Most of these fish come from African coasts, as is the case of Dicologoglossa hexophthalma which has six large spots next to the eyes, a feature that makes it easily differentiated from the original sole.

This fish has an approximate size of 20 cm maximum length, the shape of its body is similar to the common sole, with ovoid shape, small eyes located both on the right side of the body, long fins (both the dorsal and the anal) , whereas the caudal fin is similar to that of other soles  and of reddish brown coloration.

We also have the sand sole (Dicologoglossa hexophthalma) and the Senegalese sole which present in their pectoral fin a clear spot, with an approximate dimension of 40 centimeters. Finally, there are the pectoralis major (Austroglosus pectoralis) and the west coast sole (Austroglossus microlepis) which do not have spots.

Dover soles: sand sole


Dover Soles and Human Beings

In this part of the post we will know the relationship between this wonderful species and human beings in cultural, economic terms, among others. Dover soles are part of the human diet since the Roman civilization, a time when they were called Jupiter’s Sandal due to their anatomy. They were usually in large dinners offered by noble families in special occasions.

As a curious fact about this species some people in Israel believe that dover soles are the species named in the story of Moses where he cuts a fish in half.

Methods and Techniques to Catch Dover Soles

Dover soles have small mouths so small hooks and small baits are necessary to catch them. 1 – 6 size hooks in long shanked patterns are the most useful to aid unhooking.

Allowing bites to develop and avoiding striking too early is a plus for catching this species. Baits should be fished hard to the seabed as this is where sole will be feeding.

Avoid long snoods as they may lift off from the seabed and the sole will miss them. Some fishermen add additional drilled bullets to the hooklengths to ensure the bait is nailed to the seabed.

Like flounder, sole will come very close to the shore during darkness, and casts as short as twenty yards, or even less, can locate the feeding fish. Unlike flounder and plaice, soles are not usually attracted to sequins and beads added to hookle, they do not respond particularly well to moving bait.

Dover soles are known to move around in shoals, and double shots of them on multi-hook rigs are not uncommon if a shoal is located.

Let’s watch how they catch them

Dover Soles’ Marketing

Soles are usually marketed as a whole, whether fresh or frozen in the form of fillets. This fish is appreciated because it has a lean and soft meat and is one of the most valued flat fish today because of its exquisite taste. They have a high commercial value for consumption, and are also used for aquaculture.

Different countries, including Spain, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico, through their research centers, have developed the sole culture in captivity as a means of development and commercialization of this species, its meat being highly appreciated.

The success of their cultivation has varied between countries, due to the high number of problems arising during the development of the culture system, both from the point of view of the fish in terms of acclimatization, feeding and reproduction, as well as the stability of its new habitat (conditions of salinity, temperature, etc.) and problems of parasite control that often appear in the same captivity itself.

Several studies suggest the possibility of anomalies in pigmentation during larval development, being irreversible after metamorphosis. The studies carried out predict the existence of around 11% of juveniles with abnormal pigmentation.




Are Dover Soles Endangered?

This species is highly consumed so it’s  exposed to overfishing which has been for long periods of time above the parameters recommended by scientists. In the Irish Sea, for example, the dover soles’ fishing has been banned due to the deplorable state of their  population, although those responsible for carrying out such measures have not properly applied such regulations.

State of the Population

The common sole is on the IUCN red list because of the following factors:

Destruction of the Sea Bottom and Marine life

Bottom trawling has a very high number of discards and with this same fishing method soles are often caught accidentally when other species are caught.

Other species on the Net

In the North Sea, the use of trawl nets for fishing soles also captures and discards a large number of immature cod and plaice.

Fishing pressure

Scientists believe that the fishing pressure on this species in the North Sea, the Celtic, Skagerrak and Kattegat is sustainable, which is a completelly completely different situtation than that  of the Irish Sea, in the West Channel and in the Bay of Biscay where exploitation is unsustainable. Up to 70% of the catch is made up of other species which are returned to the sea, dead or dying.

Dover Soles as Food

This exquisite fish is consumed by a large number of people worldwide since it has very good flavor and is very nutritious. Let’s learn a little more about the role of the fish in the humans’ diet.

The sole is a white meat fish since it contains little fat: each 100 grams of sole contributes 1.5 grams of fat, and if it is cooked correctly and combined with light sauce it is very efficient in low calorie diets. In most cases the sole fish is cooked fried or battered which considerably increases its caloric status.

Recommendations for Consumption

Much of the sole populations are over-exploited. In some areas, their fishing is carried out by trawling, which is associated with a high rate of discarding and also causes other problems to the ecosystem. For this reason, regardless of size and provenance, it is suggested not to consume specimens captured by this trawl technique.

If it is desired to consume sole, it is preferable that it is very occasional, and the specimen to be consumed must be fresh and mature and exceed 30 centimeters in total length. These fish must be caught by gillnets or other artisanal fishing methods.

Nutritional Properties

Dover Soles don’t have a large amount of proteins, however they have a high biological value due to their vitamin B, B3 and B9 content. If we talk about minerals, the sole stands out for the high amount of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and iodine. The content of the first three is similar to that of most fish, however, iodine is found in more relevant amounts, although not outstanding if compared to red mullet, which has 190 micrograms of iodine per 100 grams of edible portion.

This mineral significantly influences the functions of the organism since it is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates numerous metabolic functions, as well as the growth of the fetus and the development of its brain.

Phosphorus is present in bones and teeth, intervenes in the nervous system and muscle activity, participates in processes of obtaining energy, while potassium is a mineral necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system and muscle activity and intervenes in the balance of water inside and outside the cell.

Magnesium is related to the functioning of the intestine, nerves and muscles, in addition to being part of bones and teeth in the same way improves immunity and has a mild laxative effect.

Each 100 of sole contains 81.38 Calories, 16.5 grams of Proteins, 1.5 grams of Fats, 0.7 grams of Iron, 29 Grams of magnesium, 230 milligrams of potassium, 260 mgms, of Phosphorus 30 grams of Iodine , 5.5 milligrams vitamin B3 or niacin, 11 micrograms of folic acid.

How to Cook Dover Fish?

This fish is widely accepted in the cuisine of different countries and in different cultures, so it is easy to find around the world. Each region has a peculiar way of preparing Dover soles. For example, in Spain the sole is prepared roasted with white sauce, and accompanied with cream, butter and flour.

We also have the sole of Cadiz, which is breaded and accompanied by a garnish made with stuffed olives, garlic and aromatic herbs such as laurel and thyme. In the same way it is prepared in Madrid, where the sole also coated, accompanied with clams and serrano ham. All these dishes have an intense and pleasant flavor.

Dover soles can also be prepares to the Meunier, it is accompanied by a sauce that is made of butter, lemon and parsley, which in addition to giving  an exquisite flavor to the dish  also gives it a very good appearance.

The sole is a fish with an insuperable quality, since it has a very pleasant flavor and its texture is so soft that it melts in the mouth. There are several ways to prepare it and it’s important to note that you must be careful with their handling, both before and after cooking, since its meat is very fragile and easy to crumble.

It can be grilled, roasted, overrun and can even be consumed raw in very fine fillets, when you choose a side dish for the sole, some are so simple, for example a bit of lemon juice, parsley and a few drops of oil, sautéed leeks, a garnish of asparagus or mushrooms all these are able to develop a delicious dish.

If you love cooking and you dare to experiment, you can choose different recipes that are a little more complex, you can cook the sole fish with white wine, beer, also with fine herbs or it is excellent with an orange sauce, cream spinach or dried fruit for example almonds and pine nuts.

Let’s watch


Dover fish is one of the least rejected by the little ones, since the fillets don’t have spines. it also has a mild flavor and its incredible texture makes it possible for children to eat it almost without realizing it. You can offer them a steak accompanied by some grains of grape or with pieces of apples which will attract their  attention.

Dover Soles’ Recipes.

Preparing recipes with soles is not difficult; you just have to be a little careful when handling them, since their meat is easily melted. One of the most popular recipes currently is the baked sole, which is healthy as well as very tasty.


    • Six fresh soles,
    • 50 grams of flour,
    • 50 grams of butter,
    • 1/2 liter of milk,
    • 1/4 liter of fish smoked
    •  The juice of a lemon,
    • 1 dl. of white wine,
    •  a little olive oil, parsley, chives, salt and pepper.
    • you can use French fries as garnish


    • First season the fish previously washed with salt and pepper. Place it in a tray for ovens
    • Add white wine, the drizzle of olive oil and proceed to bake at 180-185 ° C for ten or fifteen minutes.
    • While the fish is in the oven, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and sauté well.
    • Make the sauce so that it is thick and unctuous. After you have baked the fish pour the sauce.
    • Add the lemon juice also the grated rind, the parsley and the chopped chives; place the sole in serving dishes.

If you want to try a fried sole, then write down this recipe that you can also use with snappers among other fish.


    • a lemon,
    • three eggs,
    •   a spoonful of chopped fresh parsley, or a similar herb of your choice,
    •   1/4 cup of milk, a teaspoon of leavening powder, salt and pepper to taste.


    • Wash the fish very well.
    •   arrange it stretched in a dish and place the lemon juice and salt and pepper to your liking.
    •   Cover and place it in the fridge for a period of 1 to 2 hours although you can also leave it overnight.
    • Beat the eggs in a bowl with the grated cheese, milk, chopped parsley, leavening powder, and salt and pepper.
    • Place the flour in a dish and pass the fish through it.
    • Place it to brown on each side until the fish is golden brown.
    • Drain the excess on absorbent paper and serve.

Here we go

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