Such a small fish as bleak is familiar to many, because it is an inhabitant of various water bodies and is quite common among amateur fishermen. At first glance, it is impossible to find anything particularly noticeable in it, but we will try to study the important nuances of its life, describing not only externally, but also paying attention to the character and habits, learning interesting facts from the fish life of bleak.
View Origin and Description
Bleak is called bleak, common bleak, bleak, it belongs to the carp family and is a fairly common type of fish. Surprisingly, this small fish has a huge number of different names that depend on the specific territory of fish residence.
So, the bleak is called:
- verkhovka (top water);
The bleak is a fairly attractive, small, silvery fish that has an elongated body. In appearance, it seems to be slightly flattened from the sides. The lower jaw of the fish is slightly protruding, and the mouth is bent upwards. In general, scientists distinguish about 45 varieties of these fish in the composition of the bleak genus, which differ not only in the places of their permanent residence, but also in some external features.
Differences between different types of bleak are insignificant. There are fish, the shape of the nose of which is slightly shortened and dark stripes run along the sides. In the river basins of Europe, one can see bleak with a bright back color. It happens that the difference between the varieties of these fish is a different number of pharyngeal teeth. Quite large-sized bleaks live in the rivers of the Black Sea basin, the Caspian and the Don, the length of which can reach up to 30 cm or even a little more. The mass of such a bleak is slightly more than 200 grams, it has a wide physique and reddish lateral fins.
Appearance and features
So, common bleak is a small fish, the maximum length of which can reach up to 15 cm, the average weight of bleak is 60 grams, but there are also larger specimens (about 100 grams). It has been noticed that the river bleak is slightly shorter in length than the one that lives in the waters of lakes.
As already noted, the bleak has an elongated low body, the ridge of the fish is almost straight, and the abdomen is slightly convex. The small head of the fish has a pointed shape, the eyes of the bleak on it seem large, having large dark pupils. The mouth of the bleak is equipped with pharyngeal teeth growing in two rows, they have a curved shape and uneven edges. At the end of the fish tail, a large dark-colored fin with a deep cut is clearly visible. The rest of the fins are ashy or slightly yellowish.
The color of the bleak is called pelagic, i.e. it is characterized by a dark dorsal region and a light underside, this masks the fish, counteracting both bottom predators and birds making attacks from the air. The bleak has metallic-colored scales, which are characterized by a mirror shine. A grayish-blue, slightly olive shade is noticeable in the back area, and the abdomen is always light. The most recognizable sign of bleak is the sticky, silvery, fish scales that immediately stick to your hands if you take a fish in them. Apparently, that’s why she was called that.
An interesting fact: The scales of the bleak are very weak, instantly removed upon any contact with anything (plants, stones), so cleaning this fish is very easy, you can simply rub it together with salt in a container, and then rinse with water.
Where does the bleak live?
The entire European territory, excluding the southern countries, is the area of bleak settlement. In the vastness of our country, this fish has chosen the waters of the European part, although it also lives in the Asian river basins. Bleak is numerous in the territories of lakes and rivers belonging to the Baltic and White Seas.
The distribution area of this fish covers:
- Northern Dvina;
- Black Sea basin;
- Tributaries of the Irtysh and Iset;
- The Baltic states.
Interesting fact: Surprisingly, bleak can be found on the Ural slopes, however, it lives there a little. Scientists still have not been able to figure out how this little fish made its way through the mountain ranges, it’s a real mystery!
Bleak adheres to the upper water layers, living in rivers, ponds, lakes, reservoirs and small streams. Even slightly brackish water does not frighten this fish. Often you can see flocks of bleaks scurrying near the bridges. On hot sunny days, the bleak moves away from the coast, in the evening the fish again approaches the coastal zone, remaining at a shallow depth (about one and a half meters) in the growth of coastal plants. Where water lilies and duckweed grow, the bleak also likes to deploy, and it often swims into the reeds, where it rests until dawn.
The bleak prefers flowing waters, choosing the calmest river areas, although this fish does not bother the swift current, it easily adapts to it. Bleak settles in water areas where there is a pebble or sandy bottom, and running water is well filled with oxygen. This fish is characterized by a settled way of life, changing the places of its permanent registration only during the spawning period. A lover of high water in autumn has to go down to the depths to spend the winter in the bottom pits.
What does a bleak eat?
Bleak can be safely called an omnivore, although this fish is small, but very voracious, legibility and pickiness about food are not inherent in it, the fish eats various insects with pleasure, rushing at almost any of their representatives.
Bleak loves to snack :
- zooplankton (the main course of her menu);
- various larvae;
- roe of other small fish;
- roach fry.
The amount of plant food in the bleak menu is significantly inferior to the diet of animal origin. It has been noticed that during the mass departure of mayflies, the fish continues to eat only these insects. Before the onset of thunderstorms and rain, the dexterous bleak begins to become active, giving all of itself to the hunt. This happens because at this time numerous midges fall into the water from the coastal vegetation, which the fish instantly swallows. It should be added that the bleak deliberately begins to splash strongly and beat the water with its tail in order to wash off the midges from the coastal bushes with splashes. A fish can eat grains, seeds and pollen of plants that have fallen into the water.
Interesting fact: In warm, calm weather, you can observe such a picture when a bleak jumps out of the water in order to catch midges in flight, with which it loves to eat.
If we talk about fishing and baits that bleak bite well, then here you can list: dough, bread balls, dung worms, maggots, bloodworms and much more.
Features of character and lifestyle
Bleak is a social fish that prefers a collective existence, so you can often see large flocks of bleak moving in the water surface in search of a snack. The fish prefers to stick to a depth of up to 70 – 80 cm from the beginning of spring until the autumn cold. In those reservoirs where a lot of predatory fish live, flocks of bleaks are small, this allows the fish not to attract the attention of predators and be more maneuverable. It should be noted that the bleak is quite dexterous and active, it can be called a real sprinter, ready to develop great speed, hiding from an ill-wisher, such a sports talent often saves a fish’s life.
In reservoirs where predators abound, the bleak is deployed in open areas, avoiding heavily overgrown places, so it is much easier for the fish to flee without bumping into various obstacles. When cold weather sets in, the bleak moves deeper into the reservoir, the fish spends the whole winter in a suspended state, plunging into wintering pits along with their other carp relatives. This stagnation in fish life continues until the ice begins to melt.
Speaking about the nature of this little fish, it must be added that it is nimble and brisk, this has long been noticed by fishing enthusiasts. It is not for nothing that bleak is called a top melter, it is on the surface of the water in search of food, therefore, it often does not allow the bait to sink, grabbing it right away.
Social structure and reproduction
Bleak fish start spawning at the age of two, and their average lifespan is about 8 years. Fish schools migrate to suitable spawning grounds. When the water temperature becomes acceptable (10 degrees and above), the females begin to lay a large number of eggs, which can be up to 11,000.
Most often, caviar is laid in the shallow water zone, which is warmed by the sun and has a muddy bottom. Spawning mainly occurs near aquatic vegetation, but it also happens near stones, the roots of coastal trees. The males begin to fertilize the eggs. Small and sticky caviar mass, which has a yellowish tint, immediately attaches to stones and plants.
In general, the entire spawning period lasts only 4 days, the process is activated only during the day, in the light of the sun, and stops with the advent of twilight. The spawning of the bleak is distinguished by several stages, which start at the end of March and end in mid-June. It all depends on the specific reservoir and the water temperature regime in it. The fish is very active during the spawning period, you can hear frequent water splashes and pops. This is how bleak scatters fertilized eggs so that they attach to stones, plants, and the bottom surface.
The period of incubation of eggs depends on how warm the water is. If it is warm enough, then within five days the formation of larvae begins, having a length of just over 4 mm. A week later, you can see the appearance of fry, which at first adhere to thickets near the coast, eating zooplankton and the smallest algae. Their distinguishing feature is the bluish color of the back, so you can immediately understand that these are small bleaks. Babies grow very rapidly, a year later becoming independent young.
Interesting fact: Bleak spawns by seniority. First, spawning occurs in more mature fish, then young, sexually mature, fish persons are connected to this process. Spawning is carried out in portions with a 10-day interval.
Natural enemies of bleak
Bleaks have a great variety of enemies, mainly predatory fish, among which are:
Predators hunt not only for fish, but also enjoy eating it caviar, fry. In some reservoirs, bleak is the basis of the diet of many predatory fish, which destroy it in large quantities.
Danger awaits small fish from the air, birds are also not averse to eating such a tasty and fatty fish.
Therefore, bleak often becomes a victim:
Birds easily fish out bleak, which flocks in flocks near the surface of the water. In addition to feathered and predatory fish, waterfowl animals such as otter, muskrat and mink can be attributed to the enemies of bleak. Even among insects, bleak have ill-wishers, so caviar and fish fry are often eaten by swimming beetles.
The enemies of bleak can, without a doubt, include anglers who try to catch dexterous fish in various ways: with the help of a float rod, spinning, fly fishing. Knowing about the voracity of the fish, anglers use a wide variety of baits, ranging from butterflies, flies, maggots and worms to simple bread crumbs, steamed grits and dough. Often bleak are caught as live bait to catch large predatory fish (for example, pike).
Interesting fact: Smart bleak knows a tricky trick: when a predatory fish catches up with it, it can jump out of the water to the shore, and then return back to their native element. In the meantime, the danger has passed and the predatory fish will be far away.
Population and species status
Bleak forms a variety of populations, it all depends on certain places of its permanent settlement. River bleak is small and elongated, lake bleak is larger and has a high back. Regardless of the parameters and shape, the bleak is a numerous fish species, often found in various water bodies. Bleak has chosen almost the entire European space, in our country it also lives almost everywhere.
Although this little fish has many enemies, nothing threatens its population, which is good news. Even if predatory fish massively exterminate the bleak, it still restores its livestock due to its extraordinary fertility and rapid growth. So, bleak is not disappearing and Red Book. According to the status given to this fish by the IUCN, it is classified as a species of Least Concern.
Bleak does not have a special commercial value, so only recreational anglers catch it. The bleak is quite oily and has an excellent taste. They eat bleak not only fried, but also salted, dried, smoked, baked. Fish is often used as a beer snack.
An interesting fact: Once upon a time, silvery bleak flakes were used by Europeans to make artificial pearls of the highest quality. This technology originated in the East, at that time people organized the extraction of this small fish.
In the end, I would like to add that although the bleak is small, it has a number of advantages over other large fish: it dexterous, swift and evasive, all these qualities often save her fish life. An inconspicuous bleak seems only at first glance, and, having studied the life activity of this fish in more detail, you can learn a lot of fascinating, unusual and interesting things.