Barbel

Barbus barbus

The Barbel is a characteristic species found on free-flowing stretches of the Danube. It is a demersal fish, meaning it is found near or on the bottom of a body of water.

Description
Slim, powerful body; extended snout, thick fleshy lips with four prominent barbels, or whisker-like structures, on the upper lip. Compact but tall dorsal fins; scales become larger towards the tail. Back is greyish-green or olive green with brighter, gold-gleaming flanks. Belly and throat white. Body length of up to 80 cm long, weighs up to 8 kg.

Distribution
Oxygen-rich, clear running waters with sandy or gravelly bottoms ("Barbel Region"), from England to the Black Sea.

Endangerment and Conservation Status
While the species is still common in Austria, it is classified as vulnerable throughout Europe.

Behaviour
A demersal fish, mostly found in schools, it likes to place itself among large stones. Eats mostly worms, insect larvae, mussels, snails, fish spawn and eggs. From May to June, Barbel gather and migrate upriver in large schools. Males have a white, grainy spawning rash on the head and back. The large yellow eggs are stuck to stones.

Special Characteristics
The Barbel's roe is poisonous!