Hake is found close to the bottom at 50-600 meters depth during the day, but may migrate upwards into shallower depths at night to feed. The main preys include mackerel, herring, blue whiting and mesopelagic nekton (lanternfish, hatchetfish, shrimps, and krill). Stomach content analyses have also shown that hake prey on hake, but that the extent of cannibalism depends on fish size and location.
Hake that is distributed along the Spanish coast and in the Bay of Biscay spawns mainly between January and June, whilst specimens in Norwegian waters appear to spawn between July and October. Estimating the age of hake is difficult partly because of false annual rings associated with environmental changes and also because of unclear otolith cores. Recaptures from tagging studies done off the coast of France have shown that hake grow quicker than previously assumed. Based on the comparison of genetic material hake in the North Sea seems to be different to fish west of Scotland and in the Mediterranean Sea.
Hake with its firm white meat is a popular and sought after species especially in Europe. Spain is the largest consumer of hake, followed by Portugal, France and Italy.