The Barbel grows up to 1 m in length and is a sturdy fish. It lives close to the river bed in strong currents and has a long, spindle-shaped body and a characteristically inferior-positioned mouth with four barbels. The long spine 'in the dorsal fin has a saw-like edge. The long rayed anal fin nearly reaches the tail fin. It spawns in May and June and migrates upstream to areas with a sandy or stony water bed. It is a schooling fish and feeds on the animals and plants of the water bed.
It inhabits western and central Europe, but is not found in Ireland, Denmark, Scandinavia and Italy. In the peripheral areas of its habitat it has produced numerous subspecies, for example in Spain, Dalmatia, eastern Bulgaria and the watersheds of the rivers Dniester, Dnieper and Bug.
Maximum size and weight: 1 m, 15 kg.
Identifying characteristics: Long spine of dorsal fin has serrated edge. Anal fin does not reach caudal fin. Mouth ventral, with four fleshy barbels.