Tuesday, August 11, 2009

European Weatherfish

The weatherfish is a long-bodied fish with the body compressed at the sides and with ten barbels at the sides of its mouth. It lives in muddy, stagnant waters, in river backwaters and also in ponds. In any sudden change of air pressure it will swim close to the water surface and move about briskly. If oxygen is sparse in the water, it will gulp in air and absorb the oxygen through the mucous membrane of its gut. It spawns in May and the embryos have special external, web-like gills which soon disappear. In Europe it can be found from the Seine to the Neva and from the Danube to the Volga. However, it does not live in rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean or in rivers in England, Scandinavia, Finland and southern Europe.

The stone loach is a small, 10 to 18 cm icing fish with a cylindrical, dark-marbled body and wkh six barbels at the mouth. The back is greenish or brownish, the sides are yellowish with irregular black-brown spots. The belly is whitish grey, sometimes with a pinkish tint. The fish keeps close to the bottom in rivers as well as in ponds and lakes, and usually hides under stones and roots. It spawns in spring during the month of May on sandy or stony shallows. Its diet consists chiefly of the larvae of water insects, such as the red midge. It is most active at night or in the half- light. It occurs all over Europe with the exception of northern Scotland, northern Scandinavia, southern and central Italy and Greece.

Misgurnus fossilis Maximum size and weight: 35 cm, 150 g.

Identifying characteristics: Long body, compressed on the sides. Ten barbels at the mouth. Lateral longitudinal stripes.

Noemacheilus barbatulus Maximum size and weight: 18 cm, 80 g.

Identifying characteristics: Elongated, cylindrical body with dark marbling. Six barbels at the mouth. Scales very small.

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