The bream is usually 30 to 55 centimetres (12 to 22 in) long, though some specimens of 75 centimetres (30 in) have been recorded; it usually weighs 2 to 4 kilograms (4.4 to 8.8 lb).
It has a laterally flattened and high-backed body and a slightly undershot mouth. It is a silvery grey colour, though older fish can be bronze-coloured especially in clear waters. The fins are greyish to black, but never reddish.
The common bream lives in ponds, lakes and canals, and in slow-flowing rivers.