The asp is a fairly large fish. Fishermen constantly compete with each other in an effort to catch the largest specimen. Many note that there are quite a lot of bones in the fish. However, this does not diminish its popularity in the least. There are many nurseries in which this fish is bred for industrial purposes, or for their own pleasure. Among the people, asp has many other names – horse, grip, whiteness. The first two are due to a very specific manner of hunting. The whiteness of the fish is called because of the clean, almost colorless scales. Asp is a type of fish, which is further subdivided into three subspecies.
Origin of the species and description
The asp belongs to the chordate animals, the class of ray-finned fish, the cyprinoid order, the cyprinid family, the genus and species of the asp are distinguished. To date, ichthyologists cannot provide complete information regarding the origin and evolution of this representative of cyprinids. There are several versions of the origin of these fish. According to one of the existing theories, the ancient representatives of the modern asp inhabited the territory of the coast of modern China, Japan, and other Asian countries.
The most ancient representatives of modern fish appeared on earth presumably about 300 million years ago. This is evidenced by the fossils in which the remains of fish were found. Such ancient marine inhabitants had an elongated body shape, they had something similar to modern fins, but there were no jaws. The body of ancient fish was covered with dense scales, which looked more like a shell. The tail was in the form of two horny plates.
The fish of that time tend to lead a sedentary lifestyle and live at shallow depths. Approximately 11-10 million years ago, as a result of evolution, creatures began to appear that look very similar to modern fish. These individuals already had sharp, rather long teeth. The upper part of their body was covered with dense, horny scales, which were movably connected to each other.
Further, in the process of evolution and changing climatic conditions, fish began to be distributed over different regions. In this regard, depending on the living conditions, each specific species began to form features of the structure, lifestyle and diet.
Appearance and features
Belest is a fish of the carp family. Just like other members of the carp family, it has many bones. The fish is distinguished by a large, massive, shortened body, which has the shape of a spindle. The back is straight and rather wide, painted in a dark, sometimes bluish color. The sides of the fish are gray, and the abdomen is painted exclusively in silver. The whole body is covered with silvery scales. It is noteworthy that the asp has a very strong and massive tail. It should be noted that the lower part is longer than the upper. Ichthyologists note a number of characteristic external features.
Characteristic external features of the asp:
- elongated, curved head;
- large mouth;
- large lower jaw;
- dorsal and caudal fins are gray and have dark tips;
- all other fins located on the body of the fish are colored red or orange at the base and gray towards the end.
The head of the whiteness is rather massive, elongated. It has massive, fleshy lips and a slightly protruding lower jaw. The jaws of these carp-shaped representatives do not have teeth. Instead, there are peculiar tubercles and notches. The tubercles are located on the lower jaw. Notches on the top and are designed to enter the tubercles, which are located below. This structure of the jaws allows you to instantly capture potential prey, which simply does not have a chance of salvation. This structure of the mouth apparatus allows the asp to hunt even large prey.
Interesting fact: Surprisingly, the asp has a small number of incisors in the throat.
Adult, large individuals reach a body length of 1-1.3 meters. The body weight of such fish is 11-13 kilograms. The average size of a sexually mature individual is 50-80 centimeters, and the weight is 6-7 kilograms.
Where does the asp live?
Asp is very picky about living conditions. It is extremely important for this type of fish to have a large, deep-sea reservoir. It must have clean running water and a large amount of food and oxygen. Fish will never be found in water bodies that are polluted or do not have enough food supply. Most of the populations living on the territory of Russia inhabit large reservoirs, large rivers, seas and lakes. It is well established that whiteness is found in the southern seas of Russia, the Northern and Baltic lakes.
The geographic region of fish habitat is small. It extends through Eastern and part of Western Europe. Ichthyologists outline it as a section between the Ural River and the Rhine River. This waterway is the largest in Europe and runs through six European countries. The southern boundaries of fish habitat are delineated by the regions of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan.
The southern boundaries of fish habitat also include:
- Caspian Sea;
- Aral Sea;
- Amu Darya;
- Syr Darya.
A few fish populations are found in the Svityaz River, the Neva, the Onega and Ladoga Seas. Occasionally you can meet Asp on Lake Balkhash. It was brought there artificially.
What does the asp eat?
By nature, the asp is a predator. However, compared to other predators, it stands out in a very unusual manner of hunting.
Interesting fact: To catch its prey, the fish jumps high above the water and simply falls on it. Thus, she stuns potential prey. After that, she easily manages to grab it and swallow it.
The structure of the mouth apparatus and the features of the appearance indicate that the fish lives in the upper or middle layers of the water space. After the asp grows to a sufficient size of at least 35 centimeters in length, and gains the necessary body weight, it begins to lead a predatory lifestyle. At the time of growth and development, the main food base is plankton and aquatic insects.
Food base of adults:
- bream ;
- white bream;
- small crustaceans.
The favorite food of whiteness can be considered young individuals of vobla or bream. They can also feed on freshwater, larvae, fry and caviar of various marine life. Asp is considered to be completely undemanding to food, so he eats almost everything that can be considered food for fish. Asps prey on fish that are suitable in size as a food source. They are able to catch individuals whose body length does not exceed 15 centimeters. It is unusual for these predators to wait for their prey in a secluded place. They always chase her and stun her with blows on the water.
During heavy rains, with the onset of cold weather, or in inclement weather, the fish sink almost to the very bottom. They only occasionally rise to the surface to satisfy their hunger. After wintering, the fish are extremely weakened. They are not able to lead a predatory lifestyle and pursue their prey for a long time. During this period, until they get stronger, they feed on insects, larvae, freshwater and other small inhabitants of water bodies.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
This representative of cyprinids prefers river open spaces with a swift current, especially locks and waterworks. Such places are the ideal habitat for fish. They have all the necessary conditions for a successful hunt and a sufficient amount of food supply. The noise of the water and the waterfall hide and disguise the blows against the water, with the help of which the fish get their own food. In places where there is no such flow and noise of water, fish is extremely rare.
Asp is one of the largest representatives of the carp family. By nature, he is endowed with a rather aggressive character and, having reached a sufficient size, leads a predatory lifestyle. Whiteness is very sensitive to water temperature. This criterion has a strong influence on the size and life expectancy. This fish is classified as long-lived. Ichthyologists were unable to determine the exact age, but they were able to determine that some individuals lived to be 13-15 years old.
It owes such a long life to the lightning speed of the reaction. In addition, the fish are very shy. If she sees an approaching shadow from afar, she instantly hides in a secluded, safe place. In the first year of life, fish gather in flocks in order to preserve their numbers as much as possible and increase the chances of survival. As they grow up, the flocks break up and the fish lead an exclusively solitary lifestyle. Fish are promiscuous, they can eat almost anything they can find in river water. Due to this, they grow and gain body weight quite quickly.
Social structure and reproduction
Puberty occurs around the third year of life. The fish is ready for spawning when its body weight exceeds one and a half kilograms. The reproductive age in fish that live in the northern regions comes two to three years later than in fish that live in the southern regions.
The beginning of the breeding season directly depends on the climate and water temperature in the habitats of the fish. In the southern regions, spawning begins in mid-April and lasts for several weeks. The most favorable water temperature for reproduction is from 7 to 15 degrees. Asp spawning is paired, so several pairs spawn at the same time in one territory, which creates a feeling of group reproduction.
An interesting fact: In the process of reproduction, males arrange competitions for the right to fertilize the female. In the course of such battles, they can inflict serious injuries and injuries on each other.
The asp is looking for a suitable place for spawning. As a rule, this occurs on sandy or clay rifts in the channel of permanently inhabited reservoirs. During the search, many individuals rise very high up even if they move against the current. A medium-sized female spawns approximately 60,000 – 100,000 eggs, which are deposited on stems and other parts of the vegetation dying off in winter. The eggs are covered with a sticky substance, thanks to which they are securely fixed on the vegetation.
Under favorable conditions and optimal water temperature, larvae appear after about 3-4 weeks. If the water temperature is below average, the larvae will emerge from the eggs much later.
Asp's natural enemies
Asp is a predatory, rather aggressive fish, which is naturally endowed with extreme caution, very sharp hearing, vision and other senses. Even during the period when the fish is hunting, it controls the entire space around and notices a potential danger or enemy from afar. It is worth noting that the young and larvae have the largest number of enemies, which is why they gather in flocks.
Natural enemies of whiteness:
- cormorants ;
- larger species of predatory fish.
At the same time, fish are very cautious and endowed with developed sense organs, she leads a rather noisy lifestyle. In this regard, asp becomes the object of spinning fishing in many European countries. However, it is very difficult to catch him.
Also, the population size is directly affected by the pollution of water bodies in which fish live. This causes the death of a large number of fish, especially if the waters are polluted with industrial or technical waste.
Population and species status
Today, the number of fish is rapidly declining in various regions of its habitat. The main reasons for this phenomenon were the catch by nets of young individuals that could not survive until the breeding season, as well as the pollution of their natural habitat.
To date, such a subspecies as the Central Asian asp is the least numerous. The natural habitat of this subspecies is the tiger river basin on the territory of such states as Iraq and Syria.
With a decrease in the population, the value of this fish increases significantly. This contributes to the growing number of poachers. They use prohibited devices and fishing gear to hunt asp. In the habitats of the asp, large raptors settle nearby, which catch them in large numbers from the water during the hunt, which also reduces their numbers.
Changes in climatic conditions and cooling negatively affect the population size. Fish are very sensitive to such phenomena. As a result of changes in water temperature, life expectancy decreases and the breeding season is delayed.
Due to the fact that the number of asp is constantly declining, and the number of Central Asian asp is extremely small, it was classified as a rare species that is on the verge of extinction and listed in the International Red Book.
In this regard, the International Association for the Protection of Rare Species and Fauna is developing special programs aimed at preserving and increasing the number of asp. They include a more detailed study of lifestyle, diet, and other factors and indicators necessary to create optimal living conditions for breeding fish in artificial conditions.
It is forbidden to catch fish in the regions of natural habitat, especially with using networks and prohibited methods and means. Fish habitats are monitored and constantly patrolled by the Fisheries Inspectorate. Violators of the law and existing rules face an administrative penalty in the form of a fine on an especially large scale.
Industrial facilities and enterprises, the waste of which can cause pollution of the natural habitat and the death of fish, are obliged to equip waste treatment systems.
Asp is a predatory, rather large fish of the carp family. Its meat is distinguished by a special taste and an incredibly wide range of substances useful to humans, although it is not without a large number of bones. To date, the population of these fish is very small, and therefore the asp is listed in the International Red Book.