Probably, almost everyone knows such a fish as sabrefish. Most often, we can see it dried on the shelves of various stores. The excellent taste of sabrefish is familiar to us, but not everyone knows about fish life. We will try to characterize this aquatic inhabitant from all sides, evaluating not only external features, but also, having studied the habits, places of permanent registration, all the nuances of the spawning period and the favorite fish diet.
Origin type and description
The sabrefish belongs to a schooling species of fish belonging to the carp family. In its genus of sabrefish, it is the only variety. Due to its elongated physique, the sabrefish is similar in shape to a curved saber, but it is not at all similar to a pot-bellied and rather wide carp. Its body flattened on the sides helps the fish to maneuver perfectly in the water column.
People often call sabrefish:
- cleaver .
The sabrefish is classified as a freshwater fish, but it also feels great in salty sea waters. Chekhon can be divided into settled and semi-anadromous. Outwardly, they do not differ, only the latter has a more active and rapid growth. Sedentary fish flocks inhabit one freshwater reservoir throughout their lives. The semi-anadromous sabrefish feels great in the salty and desalinated water of the seas (for example, the Aral and Caspian). Such a fish leaves the sea water with the advent of the spawning period.
It should be noted that fishing enthusiasts especially appreciate the Caspian and Azov sabrefish. The Don fish is also distinguished by the largest size and fat content, which cannot be said about the Volga sabrefish, whose meat is lean, and the dimensions are small.
Interesting fact: Despite the fact that many sabrefish live in salty marine waters, she prefers to spawn only in fresh water, often overcoming many kilometers in order to reach spawning grounds.
Appearance and features
As already mentioned, the sabrefish has a saber-like body with a characteristic curvature from below. The whole body of the fish is flattened relative to the sides, a straight dorsal line and a protruding abdomen, the keel of which does not have scales, are clearly visible. The length of the sabrefish can reach up to half a meter (sometimes a little more), and the weight can be up to two kilograms, such a large fish is rare. The average weight of a sabrefish is about 500 grams.
The head of the fish is small, so large eyes stand out on it, and the mouth, on the contrary, is small, raised upwards. The sichel has pharyngeal teeth arranged in two rows, the teeth are characterized by the presence of small notches. The fins of the sabrefish are arranged in a peculiar way, the pectoral fins are significantly elongated, there is a small fin on the back, located not far from the caudal fin. The anal fin has an unusual shape, it is much longer in length than the back, with a narrow end it comes almost to the tail itself. The scales of the fish are quite large, but easily fall off when touched.
Speaking about the color of the sabrefish, it should be noted that the silver-white gamut, which has a certain mother-of-pearl tint, is predominant here. Against this background, a grayish-brown or slightly greenish ridge stands out in contrast. The color of the fins varies from gray to reddish-smoky. There is a yellowish tint on the pectoral fins.
Interesting fact: Intense luster and the ability of the scales to shimmer, refracting light rays, the fish owes a unique skin secretion – guanine, which has the properties of an oxide mirror film.
Where does the sichel live?
Chekhon loves space and expanse, therefore, it chooses wide and deep water bodies, meeting in large river systems and reservoirs. The fish is widely distributed from the Baltic to the Black Sea basin. The favorite habitats of the sichel are: Ladoga, lakes Ilmen and Onega, the Gulf of Finland, the Svir and Neva rivers – this all applies to the northern regions of the fish habitat.
In the southern part of the range, the sichel has chosen the river systems of the following seas:
The sabrefish is a fish of numerous fresh water bodies, located both in Asia and in the expanses of Europe, the fish inhabits:
- Amu Darya.
As for the reservoirs of other countries, the sabrefish is found in Poland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Germany, Hungary. Flocks of sichel are deployed in deep places of lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Raba loves running water, choosing the widest areas of water with uneven bottoms and lots of holes. The mobile sichel deftly maneuvers in the waters, moving in whole shoals that swim up to the coastal zone only during feeding.
Interesting fact: Most often, sichel occupies the middle water layers.
Intensively overgrown areas with aquatic vegetation, silty places, the fish also tries to bypass, and at night it goes to the depth.
What does the sabrefish eat?
The sabrefish comes out in the morning and in the evening, the fish loves to eat:
- fish fry;
- flying insects (mosquitoes, beetles, dragonflies);
- insect larvae;
When it gets colder, the sabrefish reluctantly goes out to feed, and may even completely refuse to eat for a while. The same happens during the spawning period. But when the mating season comes to an end, the sabrefish begins an incredible zhor. When hunting, the fish swims between the fry in complete calmness, without showing any aggression, and then attacks the prey with a sharp and lightning-fast exit, dragging it into the water column.
If we talk about fishing, here the fishermen use a variety of different baits to catch the coveted sabrefish. Among baits, maggots, grasshoppers, bloodworms, dung and earthworms, flies, mayflies, dragonflies, gadflies, live bait, etc. are often used. In the menu of young fish, mainly plankton and larvae, insects falling into the water are observed. The sabrefish is distinguished by one interesting feature: when it is saturated, it sinks into the depths.
Interesting fact: The sabrefish is able to catch insects circling above the water, right on the fly, the fish jumps out of the water column, grabbing its snack and loudly flopping back home.
Character and lifestyle features
We have already found out that some of the fish are classified as semi-anadromous; most of the time it is deployed in the mouth areas, which are rich in various foods. The other part of the sichel is sedentary, practically no different from the previous one. Chekhon leads a collective way of life, preferring a flock existence. Spawning of this fish takes place only in fresh water bodies, often sabrefish travel hundreds of kilometers to reach spawning grounds.
Chekhon chooses reservoirs with a relief bottom covered with a large number of holes. In them, the fish sleeps, waits out bad weather and frosty days, hides from the intense heat. The sabrefish is most active in the late morning, afternoon and early evening. It depends on the characteristics of her diet. Fish hunt for fry or insects in the surface or middle water layers. The sichel can be called cautious, it rarely swims into the coastal zone and tries to avoid shallow water. This fish feels at ease and comfortable at a depth ranging from 5 to 30 meters, here it can relax and be more carefree.
The presence of rapids and rifts on the river does not at all frighten the sabrefish, on the contrary, it loves such places, because it has excellent maneuverability and stability, snatching various insects, fry and invertebrates from the swift water stream with deft throws. With the advent of September, the sabrefish begins to intensively eat off, preparing for the winter hut, then it goes to the depths. It is worth adding that even in the cold winter time, the fish continues to be active and caught right from under the ice.
Social structure and reproduction
Female sabrefish become sexually mature at the age of three, then their weight should be at least 100 grams, males are ready for breeding at the age of two. The maturation of fish largely depends on the specific places of its settlement, so in the southern regions, sabrefish can start breeding as early as at the age of one or two years, in the north this process can drag on until the age of 4 or even 5 years.
In spring, fish gather in large flocks, migrating to spawning grounds. This period can last from April to June, it all depends on the climatic conditions of a particular region. The average duration of spawning is 4 days, while the water temperature can vary from 13 to 20 degrees with a plus sign. For spawning, the sabrefish chooses places with rifts and shallows, where there is a rather rapid current, laying eggs at a depth of 1–3 m. Fish eggs are transparent and 2 mm in diameter. The sabrefish is considered very prolific and can produce from 10,000 to 150,000 eggs, it all depends on the age of the fish. The eggs of sichelfish do not stick to underwater vegetation and stone ledges, they, along with the flow of water, are carried downstream, which provides them with the oxygen necessary for full development. The females that have spawned are also carried away with the current.
Three days later, larvae appear from the eggs, which continue to move along with the water flow. In this regard, fry travel long distances from spawning grounds, when they are 20 days old, they already begin to feed on plankton. Over a one-year period, young sabrefish can grow up to 10 cm. Only when the fish is 6 years old can it reach a 400-gram mass. The duration of the fish life of sabrefish is about 13 years.
Interesting fact: The sabrefish spawn at sunrise, when the veil of morning fog still covers the water surface. This process occurs in an unusual way: the fish can jump high out of the water column, the noise and splashes from the swarming sichel can be heard everywhere, and she herself often appears from the water.
Natural enemies of sabrefish
The sabrefish have enough detractors, especially the young, inexperienced and small in size, are defenseless and vulnerable. Predatory fish are happy to eat not only fry and small sabrefish, but also its caviar.
The enemies of sabrefish include:
In addition to predatory fish individuals, danger awaits sabrefish from the air, so while feeding in the surface layers of water, fish can become a victim of gulls and other waterfowl. In addition to all of the above ill-wishers, sabrefish can suffer from various parasitic ailments to which this fish is susceptible.
Whatever one may say, the most dangerous insatiable fish enemy is a man who, while fishing, catches sabrefish in large quantities with the help of nets. All due to the fact that this fish has become famous for its unsurpassed taste, and the benefits of eating it are undeniable. Low calorie content, combined with a whole range of vitamins and macronutrients, has a beneficial effect on the human body, normalizing metabolic processes, strengthening the skeletal system, lowering cholesterol, removing a number of harmful acids.
The sabrefish suffers not only from industrial catch, but also from ordinary fishermen who are constantly active, trying to get a bigger catch. They catch sabrefish with various lures and baits using a float rod, spinning rod, donkey (feeder). The last option is considered the most promising and effective. Fishing enthusiasts have long studied all the habits and preferences of sabrefish, they know that the most active biting begins in the morning, when the fish is busy feeding.
Population and species status
As we have already understood, the sabrefish leads a flocking, collective life, the area of fish settlement is quite extensive, but is not uniform in terms of numbers. In some regions it (the number) is large, in others it is insignificant. It has been noticed that in the northern regions of our state (Ilmen, Ladoga, Onega, etc.) sabrefish are characterized by a high population density.
In the Caspian Sea basin, ichthyologists discovered a couple of populations of sabrefish – Ural and Volga, the fish differ only in size and age. The researchers note that the flocks of the Volga sichel are more numerous and crowded. In addition, the Volga population, if compared with the Ural population, inhabited much more extensive water areas. There is also evidence that the Azov sabrefish is also numerous, forming a fairly large population inhabiting the northern regions of Azov, from where schools of fish rush to the Don.
The situation with the number of sabrefish is not everywhere, there are territories, where the number of fish has declined sharply, so there are bans on its catch. These regions include Moscow and the Moscow Region, where since 2018 it has been strictly prohibited to catch sabrefish in local water bodies. The following objects were included in the list of the same protected places:
- Bryansk region;
- Northern Donets;
- Upper reaches of the Dnieper;
- Lake Chelkar (Kazakhstan).
In all the above areas and water bodies, fishing for sabrefish is strictly prohibited, due to its low abundance, in some places this fish has been given the status of endangered, so it needs certain protective measures.
Protection of the sichel
In a separate number of regions, sabrefish is a small fish, the number of which has sharply decreased for various reasons: shallowing of water bodies, mass fishing, and deterioration of the ecological situation in general. In connection with this situation, sabrefish is listed in the Red Books of the Moscow, Tver, Kaluga, Bryansk regions. The fish is protected in the upper reaches of the Dnieper, in the Northern Donets, in the waters of the Kazakh lake Chelkar. The reasons for the small number of sabrefish in these regions can also be attributed to the characteristic features of this species of fish, which prefers large full-flowing rivers of more southern regions.
Now sabrefish are often bred on their own, in artificial conditions, although there is no special need for such breeding .
The main conservation measures that contribute to the increase in the number of sabrefish include:
- introduction of bans on fishing in places where its population has declined sharply;
- increase in penalties for illegal fishing of sabrefish;
- carrying out propaganda work among fishermen, announcing the inadmissibility of catching young animals and fry sabrefish for use as bait (bait bait) for fishing for larger predatory fish;
- improvement of the ecological situation in various water areas in general;
- identification and protection of fish spawning grounds.
In the end, it remains to add that sabrefish often suffers because of its excellent taste, healthy meat, from which you can cook a huge variety of dishes. Now we have learned about this fish not only from the gastronomic side, but also considered all the most important nuances of its life, having learned a lot of interesting and instructive things. It is not for nothing that the sabrefish was nicknamed the saber fish or saber fish, because it really resembles this ancient melee weapon with its elongated and slightly curved shape, silvery sheen of scales.