Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Found in rivers, reservoirs, lakes and canals (Ref. 11145). Occurs in the sea at depths of up to 25 m and in rivers in deep stretches with gravel or stone bottom. In freshened parts of sea, preys mainly on benthic crustaceans. Does not feed while migrating upstream and starts to feed again at the spawning sites mainly on insects, juveniles of other fishes, rarely on algae, seeds and other plant material. Spawns in fast-flowing water at areas with hard bottom and depths of 1-2 m (Ref. 59043).
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Distribution

Range Description

Aral basin (extirpated in the sea - due to salinity, only survives in the resevoirs of its tributaries), Chu drainage and southern and western Caspian Sea. For spawning, migrates up larger tributaries of western and southern coasts: Terek, Samur, Kura, lower Aras. Rarely in lower Volga (up to Volgograd) and Ural.
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Aral Sea and western and southern Caspian Sea; anadromous.
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Europe and Asia: Southern and western Caspian Sea; Aral basin; River Chun (Kasakhstan). For spawning, migrates up to larger tributaries of western and southern coasts: Terek, Samur, Kura, lower Aras. Rarely in lower Volga (up to Volgograd) and Ural.
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Physical Description

Size

Maximum size: 900 mm TL
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Max. size

90.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 1441)); 105 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 22.0 kg (Ref. 4537)
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnosed from other species of Barbus and Luciobarbus in Caspian Se basin by having the following characters: predorsal length shorter than postdorsal length; dorsal fin usually with 7½ branched rays; 16-25 gill rakers; back between head and dorsal origin laterally compressed, forming a keel; lateral line with 62-90 (usually 65-77) scales; and lower lip thin, without median lobe or pad (Ref. 59043).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Habitat:
At sea, at depths of up to 25 m. In rivers, in deep stretches with gravel or stone bottom. Spawns in fast-flowing water at sites with hard bottom, 1-2 m deep.

Biology:
Semi-anadromous and riverine populations. Spawns for the first time at about 500-700 mm SL, 5-7 years, females later than males. Spawns in April-August, with peak at 23-27°C. Some individuals start spawning migration in late summer-autumn and spawn following spring after overwintering in river. Some enter rivers in early spring and spawn same year. Female lays 100,000-1,250,000 bright yellow eggs; in 2-3 portions during a single season. Eggs are semipelagic and hatch while drifting downstream after at least 2 days at 25°C. Larvae settle into places with slow current for 2-12 months, then drift downstream to sea (or reservoir if river is dammed). In freshened parts of sea, feeds mainly on benthic crustaceans. Does not feed while migrating upstream. At spawning sites, starts to feed again, mainly on insects, eggs and juveniles of other fishes, rarely on algae, seeds and other plant material.

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

benthopelagic; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater; brackish
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Migration

Potamodromous. Migrating within streams, migratory in rivers, e.g. Saliminus, Moxostoma, Labeo. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Trophic Strategy

Feeds primarily on insects and plants (Ref. 9037). Does not feed while migrating upstream. At spawning sites, starts to feed again, mainly on insects, juveniles of other fishes, rarely on algae, seeds and other plant material (Ref. 59043).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Eggs are semipelagic and hatch while drifting downstream after at least 2 days at 25°C. Larvae settle into places with slow current; after 2-12 months juveniles drift downstream to sea or reservoir if river is dammed (Ref. 59043).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Freyhof, J. & Kottelat, M.

Reviewer/s
Bogutskaya, N., & Smith, K. (IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit)

Contributor/s

Justification
Over the past 30 years (three generations; since 1976), a large part of this species' range (estimated 20%), the Aral Sea, has disappeared due to intensive water abstraction leading to increased salinity levels. Currently, the species only occurs in a few reservoirs in the Amu Darya and Syr Darya (tributaries to the Aral), and Karakum Canal (where it is invasive) where its status is unknown.

In the western Caspian Sea the landlocked population (in the Kura river) is thought be stable, and the anadromous population has declined, due to the lack of spawning sites and poaching, but it is still frequent in the southern Caspian tributaries in Azerbaidjan and Iran.

Overall, there is a continuing to decline due to expanding hydropower development and strong ecological impacts on Caspian and Aral Sea basins. It is suspected that the total population has declined by at least 30% in the past 30 years.
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Population

Population
Declined sharpley due to damming in the 1950's and 1960's in the Caspian Sea. In the Aral sea the species declined due to the shrinking (increased salinity) of the Aral sea (started in 1970s to present) and damming of its tibutaries (1950's to 1970's).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Historically dam construction and overfishing was a threat, increasing salinity in the Aral sea caused the species to become extirpated. Currently the main threat is overfishing (illegal) in the Caspian sea.
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Vulnerable (VU) (A2cd)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Fishing is banned in the Caspian Sea.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: commercial
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