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Britain's Freshwater Fishes

Britain's Freshwater Fishes

Mark Everard
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Britain's Freshwater Fishes
    Book Description:

    Britain hosts a diversity of freshwater environments, from torrential hill streams and lowland rivers to lakes and reservoirs, ponds and canals, and ditches and estuaries.Britain's Freshwater Fishescovers more than 50 species of freshwater and brackish fish found in these waters. This beautifully illustrated guide features in-the-hand and in-the-water photographs throughout, and accessible and informative overviews of topics such as fish biology and life cycles. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, with information on status, size and weight, habitat, ecology, and conservation. The book also includes a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

    This easy-to-use field guide will be invaluable to anyone interested in Britain's freshwater fish life, from naturalists and academics to students and anglers.

    Covers all of Britain's freshwater fishesFeatures beautiful photos throughoutIncludes detailed information on more than 50 species, the places they inhabit, and their roles in Britain's ecosystemsAttractively designed and easy to use

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4689-4
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-2)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 3-4)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 5-9)

    Fish comprise a diverse group of some 32,000 species of limbless vertebrates and are found in aquatic habitats around the world, ranging from upland lakes and rivers to deep oceans. Most fish, and certainly all of the freshwater fishes of Britain and Ireland, are ‘cold-blooded’ (technically known as ‘ectothermic’), their body temperature varying with the ambient water temperature, which has a significant influence on their seasonal behaviour. The term ‘fish’ is in fact used somewhat loosely, as some are actually not ‘true’ fishes at all: the lampreys, for example, that occur in the fresh waters of the British Isles, lack...

  4. Life-cycles of British freshwater fishes
    (pp. 10-11)

    All species of British freshwater fish are egg-layers, although this is by no means true for all of the world’s fishes. The time of year at which eggs are laid and the spawning strategy vary between fish species and families.

    With just one exception, British freshwater fishes of the salmon family seek out clean gravel where they cut depressions (or ‘redds’) into which eggs are laid and then fertilized during the winter months. Most members of the salmon family undertake upstream spawning migrations, or else seek out well-flushed lake margins, moving up to suitable spawning sites from deep lakes (the...

  5. Habitats for freshwater fishes
    (pp. 12-21)

    Freshwater fishes inhabit a wide range of aquatic habitats from flowing to standing water, fresh to brackish, deep to shallow, and open to well-vegetated. Some species are resilient and hardy enough to survive in virtually any watercourse or water body. Notably, these include the Three-spined Stickleback and the European Eel, as well as the Roach, which occurs in almost all aquatic habitats ranging from duck ponds to main rivers, and from salmon rivers to estuaries. Both the eel and the stickleback can even survive in the sea, as well as in relatively polluted fresh waters. The European Eel can also...

  6. How to identify fishes
    (pp. 22-25)

    The key to learning how to identify any group of animals or plants is first to gain a good appreciation of the commoner species. This holds true for freshwater fishes and the key features to look for are summarized in this section.

    The dorsal, tail/caudal and anal fins are single, and primarily provide lateral stability and propulsion. The pectoral and ventral/pelvic fins are paired and assist with fine orientation, with the pectorals also often being used for slow ‘paddling’ swimming.

    Some freshwater fishes have a single dorsal fin, whilst others have two (and sometimes more in the case of some...

  7. The types of fishes
    (pp. 26-41)

    This section provides an introduction to the types of fishes that are native or have been introduced into British and Irish fresh waters. The 53 species concerned include representatives from 21 families, including a number that are not truly freshwater residents but can be found in estuaries and lower reaches of rivers, mainly during summer months. An example from each of these families is shown here (approximately to scale) with a brief description of key distinguishing features. Each is cross-referenced to the relevant section of this guide that contains the individual species account(s). The descriptions of key features of these...

  8. Glossary and technical terms
    (pp. 42-49)

    Acidification occurs when acidified rainfall increases the acidity of water as the buffering capacity of local soils is overwhelmed. Although acidification is a natural process, contributing to the often acidic character of many naturally mineral-poor upland ecosystems, the term ‘acidification’ is more commonly associated with atmospheric pollution. Mineral-poor upland areas downwind of pollution sources, such as upland streams and other ecosystems in mid-Wales, are particularly vulnerable to acidification, which may have profound effects on fish and other wildlife.

    The adipose fin is a small, soft and fleshy fin composed of fatty tissue, located between the dorsal and caudal (tail) fins...

  9. Salmon watching
    (pp. 50-50)

    • Introduction to the species accounts
      (pp. 51-51)

      The species accounts in this book are grouped by family, and arranged as far as possible so that species that appear similar are grouped together. This means that the order of species is not strictly taxonomic (a summary of this order is given in the Contents pages at the beginning of the book). Throughout the species accounts, the text is cross-referenced to other parts of the book as appropriate, although page references to species that are on adjacent facing pages have been omitted.

      Species that have been introduced are shown on pages with a pale red background.

      Tables summarizing the...

    • Carp and minnow family (Cyprinidae)
      (pp. 52-79)

      The Cyprinidae, also known as cyprinids, is the largest family of freshwater fish globally, with over 2,400 species in about 220 genera across North America, Africa and Eurasia.

      The cyprinids lack stomachs and have toothless jaws, though hard food items are crushed with pharyngeal (throat) teeth formed from modified gill rakers, which can also be used by specialists to identify species. Some cyprinids possess barbels. There is only one dorsal fin supported largely by soft rays but with generally three fused spines supporting the leading edge. The cyprinids possess a well-developed swim bladder, used to adjust buoyancy, which is charged...

    • Salmon, trout, charr, freshwater whitefish and grayling family (Salmonidae)
      (pp. 80-93)

      The salmonid fishes are slender and streamlined in outline, with pelvic (ventral) fins set far back on the underside and a fleshy adipose fin towards the rear of the back. The scales are conspicuous and the tail is forked. Salmonid mouths contain a single row of sharp teeth. Although the adult life-phase of some salmonids, including the Atlantic Salmon, can be marine, all salmonids spawn in fresh water. These are fast-swimming predatory fishes, feeding on invertebrates and smaller fish.

      The whitefishes are also members of the salmon family (but in a separate sub-family, Coregoninae), as revealed by the presence of...

    • Pike family (Esocidae)
      (pp. 94-95)

      The family Esocidae comprises five species of predatory fishes, all within the single genus Esox, that inhabit the cooler, fresh waters of Eurasia and North America, although some species may enter brackish waters. They have duckbill-like snouts armed with strong teeth. The tail (caudal) fin is forked. The body is covered by small, circular scales. All species are predatory, feeding on a wide variety of fishes and other vertebrates, but only one occurs in Britain and Ireland....

    • Perch family (Percidae)
      (pp. 96-100)

      The family Percidae comprises 159 species of largely freshwater fishes across the northern hemisphere, although some occur in estuaries. There are two dorsal fins, which may be separate or narrowly joined, the anterior is generally strongly spined....

    • Sheatfish catfish family (Siluridae)
      (pp. 100-101)

      The family Siluridae comprises 100 species of freshwater fishes found across Europe and Asia, although some may enter brackish water. Some species can grow very large, including the Wels Catfish, which is the only member of the family to have become established in the British Isles....

    • North American freshwater catfish family (Ictaluridae)
      (pp. 102-102)

      The Ictaluridae family comprises 45 species distributed from southern Canada to Guatemala.One species, the Black Bullhead, has become established in Continental Europe, including in the British Isles, although there is no evidence that it is breeding in British waters....

    • Sunfish family (Centrarchidae)
      (pp. 103-103)

      The family Centrarchidae comprises 27 species of fishes from the fresh waters of North America.The front and rear dorsal fins may be joined or separate, the front fin supported by strong spines. Most sunfish build nests, and some are valued as sport fish or as experimental subjects....

    • River loach (or hillstream loach) family (Balitoridae)
      (pp. 104-105)

      The Balitoridae is a Eurasian family ofabout 500 species of fishes that possess elongated bodies with inferior (downward-pointing) mouths surrounded by at least three pairs of barbels. The pelvic (ventral) fins are either separate or fused underneath the belly. These are largely river fishes, some of which are popular in the aquarium trade....

    • Loach family (Cobitidae)
      (pp. 105-106)

      The Cobitidae family, which has many similarities with the river loach (or hillstream loach) family (Balitoridae), comprises 100 species of fishes with a spindle- or worm-like body form inhabiting fresh waters across Eurasia and into Morocco. They are bottom-dwelling with a small, inferior (downward-pointing) mouth surrounded by three to six pairs of barbels. Members of this family possess a characteristic erectile spine beneath the eye. The Cobitidae include some popular aquarium fishes....

    • Sculpin family (Cottidae)
      (pp. 106-107)

      The family Cottidae comprises 300 freshwater, brackish and marine species found across the northern hemisphere and near New Zealand. The body often appears scaleless, although scales or prickles are also commonly found. The eyes are set high on the head. These are bottom-dwelling fishes, lacking a swim bladder, at least in adult fish. Members of the Cottidae family guard their eggs....

    • Sturgeon family (Acipenseridae)
      (pp. 108-109)

      The 23 species within the family Acipenseridae are large fishes of cold to temperate fresh, brackish and marine waters in the Northern Hemisphere. They are anadromous, inhabiting marine waters and breeding in running fresh waters. The body is elongated and has five rows of large armoured scales (scutes) along the sides. The mouth is small, inferior (beneath the snout), toothless and protractile, with four barbels in front. The swim bladder is large. Historically, sturgeons have been important for their meat and their roe (caviar), although nearly all species are now globally threatened....

    • Hake and burbot family (Lotidae)
      (pp. 109-110)

      The cod-like family Lotidae comprises 21 mainly marine fishes. They possess between one and three dorsal fins, a single anal fin and a chin barbel, and the caudal (tail) fin is rounded. The Burbot is the only freshwater member of the family, and occurs in the northern parts of Eurasia and North America....

    • Herring, shad, sardine and menhaden family (Clupeidae)
      (pp. 111-113)

      The family Clupeidae has a global, mainly tropical distribution in fresh, brackish and marine waters from latitudes of 70°N to about 60°S. The 216 species are mostly marine and coastal schooling fishes, with some freshwater and anadromous (running rivers from the sea to spawn) species. The body is usually spindle-shaped, rounded or strongly laterally compressed and generally herring-like. The head lacks scales, but the body usually has large, round and smooth scales. The teeth along the jaws are small or minute. The clupeids are one of the most important families of fish harvested for the commercial production of food, oil...

    • Stickleback and tubesnout family (Gasterosteidae)
      (pp. 114-116)

      The seven species within the family Gasterosteidae are small fishes found in fresh, brackish and marine waters of the northern hemisphere. Their bodies are generally elongated and either lack scales or are covered by scutes (large bony scales) along the sides. The mouth is usually small, located at the end of a narrow, tapering snout, and there are no barbels. Characteristically, between three to sixteen well-developed dorsal spines are found in front of a dorsal fin supported by soft rays....

    • Freshwater eel family (Anguillidae)
      (pp. 117-118)

      The family Anguillidae comprises 15 species of long-bodied freshwater, marine and brackish water fishes in both tropical and temperate regions. The snake-like body is covered in minute scales, appearing scaleless, and is coated in thick slime, making eels slippery and hard to pick up. The dorsal (back) fin is contiguous with the caudal (tail) and anal fins. There are well-developed pectoral fins, but no pelvic (ventral) fins....

    • Lamprey family (Petromyzontidae)
      (pp. 119-123)

      The family Petromyzontidae comprises some 41 species of parasitic or non-parasitic, eel-like fishes across the world’s temperate zones. Technically, the lampreys are not fish at all, since they lack jaws and possess only a cartilaginous skeleton. They also lack scales and paired fins.

      The larval form of all lamprey species is slender and worm-like in appearance, and is known as an ammocoete. Ammocoetes are characterized by a line of circular gill openings behind the eye. They inhabit the edges of streams and the smaller headwaters of rivers where they remain buried and inconspicuous, filter-feeding or grazing on detritus.

      Prior to...

  11. Marine visitors

    • Silversides family (Atherinidae)
      (pp. 124-124)

      The family Atherinidae comprises 165 species found in fresh, brackish and marine waters in both tropical and temperate waters....

    • Smelt family (Osmeridae)
      (pp. 125-125)

      The family Osmeridae comprises 13 species of freshwater, brackish and marine fishes, with maxillary and premaxillary teeth and an adipose fin between the dorsal fin and the tail. They are found across the Northern Hemisphere in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans....

    • Righteye flounder family (Pleuronectidae)
      (pp. 126-126)

      The family Pleuronectidae comprises 93 species of predominantly marine flatfish spread across the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans....

    • Temperate bass family (Moronidae)
      (pp. 127-127)

      The family Moronidae comprises six species of bass found in coastal areas from Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico drainages of North America to those of Europe and northern Africa. Only one species occurs commonly in waters around the British Isles....

    • Mullet family (Mugilidae)
      (pp. 128-129)

      The mullets comprise 72 species of predominantly marine and estuarine fishes. They possess two dorsal fins: one that is short and supported by four stout spines; and the other that is soft and well separated. The pectoral fins are situated high on the flanks. Even when present, the lateral line is barely visible. The mouth usually lacks teeth, although small teeth may sometimes be present. These schooling fishes have extremely long intestines to aid digestion of their diet of fine algae including diatoms and detritus from bottom sediments, which they graze with their rubbery lips. Three species are found in...

  12. Fishy fantasies
    (pp. 130-131)

    This section covers freshwater fish species that are not now considered to be ‘real’ species.

    In the species account for Brown Trout (seepage 84), reference was made to the fact that this variable species was formerly thought to have been many different species, including the sea-going Sea Trout and the Ferox – the deep-water piscivore with fearsome jaws. However, in the Reverend W. Houghton’s classic 1879 bookBritish Fresh-Water Fishes, the fish we know today as the Brown TroutSalmo truttawas listed as follows, differentiated by variations in colour and morphology:

    We have also ‘lost’ other apparent freshwater...

  13. Conservation and legislation
    (pp. 132-138)

    Many of the freshwater fishes of Britain and Ireland are the subject of nature conservation concern. For some, such as Arctic Charr and Atlantic Salmon, declining populations demand management action. Other non-native species, such as Topmouth Gudgeon and Black Bullhead, pose a threat to native species and ecosystems, and therefore their reintroduction to the fresh waters of the British Isles or their further spread needs to be strictly controlled. This is essential as, in addition to their roles in cycling food, energy and parasites, freshwater fishes are an important part of freshwater ecosystems at all levels in the food chain....

  14. Further reading and useful contacts
    (pp. 139-139)
  15. Acknowledgements and photographic credits
    (pp. 140-142)
  16. Index
    (pp. 142-144)