Ruff is a very common fish that is found in the clear waters of rivers and lakes in Russia, where the bottom is sandy or rocky. The fish is famous for its spines. These are close relatives of perches, which at the same time have bright distinctive features. They are actively used in fisheries due to their taste.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Ruff

Photo: Yorsh

Ruffs belong to the category of ray-finned fish. They belong to the perch family. At the same time, they are considered one of the most ordinary representatives of this category. Freshwater fish that lives in various water bodies of Europe, as well as Central Asia.

It is customary to distinguish only 4 types of ruffs:

  • ordinary;
  • Don;
  • striped;
  • Czech.

Video: Ruff

Only the first two species are found on the territory of Russia. Distributed throughout Russia, especially in the Central part. The species hibernates especially interestingly.

This happens in several stages:

  • ruffs find a place in shallow water, near which there is a pit, whirlpool, depression;
  • before the reservoir begins to hold ice, they are in shallow water, gradually moving to the edge of the pit;
  • with the first ice, the ruffs roll into the pit and stack there in layers;
  • gradually the fish completely refuses to food until the thaw.

If the reservoir does not freeze, then ruffs can continue to feed, but not as actively as at other times of the year.

Appearance and features

Photo: What a ruff looks like

Photo: What a ruff looks like

Some consider ruffs to be very primitive in terms of appearance. In fact, this is not true at all. Representatives of this genus have their own characteristics (even in addition to spines). Each species also has its own distinctive features. Usually ruffs have a gray-green hue with brown spots on the sides. The body of the ruff is short and laterally compressed. The body height of a ruff is on average equal to a third of the length of its body.

The jaws of the ruff are equipped with bristle-like teeth, fangs are absent. The head ends with a slightly flattened mouth-snout. The “calling card” of the ruff is spikes. They are located on the pectoral, dorsal and anal fins. On average, a ruff can grow up to 19 cm, while its weight does not exceed 300 grams. In some sources, you can find information that there were cases of catching individuals up to 30 cm long and weighing up to 0.5 kg.

Almost all types of ruffs have a similar appearance. The main differences are only in minor parameters. At the same time, the appearance of striped ruffs, which have characteristic stripes on the sides, stands out in particular.

Several additional characteristic features of these fish can also be distinguished:

  • massive head, the volume of which is up to a third of the body;
  • dark color of the head and fins;
  • blue iris of clearly bulging eyes;
  • discolored lateral fins;
  • additional spikes on the gills, which can open if the fish senses danger.

All features of the appearance of ruffs are related to their habitat, and are also necessary to ensure the proper level of protection.

Where does the ruff live?

Photo: Ruff in the water

Photo: Ruff in the water

Ruffs live exclusively in fresh water. They do not enter the sea at all. Representatives of this species prefer to live at the bottom. Ideally, they find deep waters where the water is particularly clear. Closer to the surface of the reservoir, they practically do not fit. Places with a fast current do not attract ruffs. More they try to find calm places where the water is quite cold.

The fish is quite unpretentious in terms of living conditions. Ruffs can perfectly live even in rivers that are polluted with waste in cities – this does not affect the quality of their life at all if the pollution is moderate. The most important thing for the normal life of ruffs is a sufficient amount of oxygen in the water. That is why fish do not live in stagnant water at all. But ponds and lakes with running water are very fond of ruffs, preferring to stay there as close to the bottom as possible.

Ruffs love cold water the most. With the onset of summer, they are forced to look for colder areas, or the fish becomes much more lethargic, slow. This happens if the water warms up to more than 20 degrees Celsius. In autumn, when ice is just beginning to form, and in spring, ruff can live in shallow water. The rest of the time it's too hot there. In winter, ruffs go to great depths and spend all winter time there.

In addition to the temperature of the water, intolerance to bright light forces them to stay near the bottom of the ruff. Representatives of this species love the dark. Related to this is the fact that the most favorite places for ruffs are whirlpools, steep banks, snags. Ruffs do not migrate over long distances.

Now you know where ruff is found. Let's see what this fish eats.

What does the ruffe eat?

Photo: Ruff fish

Photo: Fish Ruff

Ruffs are predators. They never eat plant foods. Basically, ruffs consume small crustaceans, as well as insect larvae. But the most dangerous thing for nature in general is that ruffs can eat caviar, boys and even other small fish. Because of this, they can cause significant harm to other populations.

If there are too many ruffs in the reservoir, this is a particular danger to other species living there. These are benthophages – predators that mainly eat bottom dwellers. But at the same time, in some cases, they may well eat insects that fall on the surface of the water. Especially often such insects are collected by fry and juveniles, which cannot yet hunt larger fish.

In general, the choice of what kind of food to eat depends specifically on the size of the fish. Rotifers are the main diet for newly born ruffs. Larger fry feed on small crustaceans, daphnia, cyclops, and bloodworms. Young grown ruffs love worms or leeches. But adult large individuals prefer to hunt small fish.

Interesting fact: Ruffs are very voracious. They feed all year round, including during the winter, when virtually all other species choose not to eat. That is why the growth of ruffs continues constantly.

But at the same time, the most difficult thing at this time is just to find food in order to feed themselves, because in fact they do not feel saturation. But due to their active lifestyle, ruffs are not as prone to obesity as some other types of fish. Ruffe hunts most of all at twilight – it is most conducive to finding food for these fish.

Interesting fact: Ruffe can hunt in complete darkness. It does not need sight to search for prey. A representative of the population has such a developed lateral line that it detects even the smallest fluctuations in water, helping to recognize the approach of prey even at considerable distances.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Yorsh in Russia

Photo: Yorsh in Russia

Ruff loves cool water. When the water in the reservoir becomes too warm, he goes to the mouth of streams or hides under the bogs. There he can wait all summer if he lives in a shallow reservoir. Another non-lover of warm water lives there – mormysh, which just becomes the main food for the ruff at this time. If possible, he can leave the lakes in the summer to the riverbed and go there to the next dam, where he then finds the deepest pool in order to wait out the summer at its bottom.

If necessary, the ruff can also live in places of fast flow. But, like a lot of other bottom fish, there he tries to take a fancy to some snag, a large stone, a ledge in order to hide behind it and feel comfortable in such a secluded place. In general, ruffs are quite peaceful fish. They get along well with each other within the same population. Even if I live in one place of different ages and sizes of ruffs, they do not conflict with each other and do not compete. But at the same time, in the habitat of the ruff population, except for burbots, rarely anyone can get along. Do not forget that ruffs are still predators.

Ruffs usually do not like to change their habitat. In general, they are not characterized by migration. They do this exclusively by force, when the water warms up to a critical level. In this case, the ruffs move to other areas in search of a cooler current. When the summer passes and autumn comes, the ruffs begin to actively group, choosing a habitat with a sufficient amount of food. By the way, it is at this time that they become easy prey, so the main ruff fishing occurs in the middle of autumn.

An interesting fact: Larger fish go to winter at the bottom of the pools earlier than the young.< br />

Early retreat to depth is a necessary measure. It happens that strong winds throw ruffs onto the land, which did not have time to go from shallow water to depth.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Ruff in the river

Photo: Ruff in the river

Ruffs always spawn in early spring. In lakes or ponds, this occurs at the very beginning of ice melting. But in the rivers – until about the flood. Approximately the end of March-beginning of April is the beginning of spawning. Ruffs have no special preparation for this stage. They can spawn absolutely in any part of the reservoir. Ruffs spawn at night or at least at dusk. Previously, the fish are huddled in shoals of several thousand sexually mature individuals.

One female at a time can lay 50-100 thousand eggs, which are connected by a single mucous membrane. Stones, algae or driftwood, as well as other uneven bottoms, are ideal places for eggs to attach. The fry emerge from the eggs after about 2 weeks. Almost immediately, they begin to actively develop independently: eat and grow. An individual at the age of 2-3 years is considered sexually mature. But at the same time, the readiness for reproduction in ruffs does not at all depend only on age. Body length is also a determining factor. It is believed that for this the fish needs to grow up to 10-12 cm. But with such a length, the female can lay no more than a few thousand eggs for the first spawning.

Ruffs are not long-livers at all. The female ruff can live up to 11 years, but the male does not live more than 8. At the same time, according to statistics, under natural conditions, fish die much earlier than this age. More than 90% of ruffs that are found in nature are individuals that have not yet reached 3 years. The bulk of young fish do not survive to adulthood due to active natural competition, diseases and lack of oxygen and food in the winter season. This is precisely what explains such a large number of eggs laid in one clutch. Often, only 1-2 of them will survive to adulthood.

Ruffs' natural enemies

Photo: Ruff fish

Photo: Ruff fish

Many believe that Ruffs, thanks to their thorns, are completely protected from enemies. Actually it is not. Although they do have rather sharp spikes, they have plenty of enemies in natural conditions. Dangerous for them are various types of predatory fish. Pike perch, catfish and burbot are especially dangerous for young ruffs. They attack ruffs when their spikes are not yet too dense – then they cannot cause so much danger to the opponent.

At the same time, under natural conditions, the main danger for ruffs is not so much fish as birds ( waterfowl). Herons, cormorants, storks easily catch ruffs that come close to the shore. Again, the bulk of the fish catch is young ruffs, fry. This is especially dangerous for the fish population as a whole.

Ruffs for this reason occupy an intermediate position in the overall assessment of the natural food chain. In addition, people are considered enemies of the population. The main reason is poaching. Ruffs are actively caught for a variety of purposes, which is why their numbers are declining. But not only in this regard, a person harms the mind.

The reason is also environmental pollution. Ruffs can only live in clear waters. If a person rapidly begins to pollute the water, then representatives of this species may die. Thus, a person causes not only direct but also indirect harm to ruff populations.

Species population and status

Photo: What a ruff looks like

Photo: What a ruff looks like

To date, it is extremely difficult to estimate the exact population size of ruffs in nature. The reason is that they inhabit too many water bodies. It is even difficult to imagine in which of them how many individuals of these fish can live. That is why it is impossible to accurately calculate the size of the population in nature.

At the same time, it can be said with certainty that the status of the population is very disappointing. Ruffs belong to the category of fish, the number of which is rapidly declining and therefore requires active protection from government agencies.

Ruffs are popular as an object of fishing. At the same time, under artificial conditions, these fish are not bred on farms. Only individuals caught in natural conditions are consumed for food. That is why their numbers are declining at such a rapid pace. In addition, in natural conditions, they also face a lot of dangers, which is exactly what this situation is connected with.

If no measures are taken, soon many subspecies or even the species of ruffs as a whole will simply disappear. But if the number of fish caught can be at least slightly regulated at the legislative level, limiting this issue, then nothing can be done against the natural enemies of these fish.

Protection of ruffs

Photo: Ruff from the Red Book

Photo: Ruff from the Red Book

To date, ruff is only partially listed in the Red Book. The point is that such measures are not taken in all states, and also apply only to some subspecies of fish. Previously, only Ruff-nosar was guarded mainly. Initially, it was listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. This is the only subspecies of ruffs that is common in the river basins of Ukraine and there it was officially recognized as an endangered species.

Then Ruff-nosar (Don) was also listed in the Red Book in Russia. It is recognized as a rapidly disappearing species due to active fishing. Ruffs have long been considered a delicacy, but at the same time quite affordable. This fish has been actively caught for many years. in connection with which its population is declining quite rapidly. To solve the problem, special farms are simply created where this species is bred for later use as food.

Under natural conditions, the catch of ruffs is limited. Time is specially provided, as well as a method of catching representatives of the population. It is important to observe a categorical ban on catching these fish during the spawning period. These fish also attract the attention of many with their exotic original appearance, which is why they are also sometimes caught for the subsequent manufacture of crafts.

Thus, the ruff has long been recognized as a fish that needs special protection from the state. These beautiful fish attract attention both in terms of their appearance and in terms of industrial catch. But in order to keep the population at the proper level, you should ensure that these scales are limited and strictly controlled.

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