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Salmon Family

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Hunchback salmon

Hunchback salmon is a salmon related to the family of the Pacific salmons. For Karelian fauna it is one of the new settled species. The acclimatization of hunchback salmon in the northern part of our country (Murmanskiy region) has started since 1956. Delivered from the Far East hard-roe was incubated in the fish hatcheries, and the next spring its youth was released into rivers. From the early 1960s the works on rearing of hunchback salmon had also started in Karelia.

Along the White Sea coastline the salmon gets into the same rivers, where whitefish is spawning. The first its getting into a river may begin from the end of June, but till the middle of July only single species usually goes up rivers. The bulk rising of salmons is from the end of July till the beginning of September. The weight of salmons that were caught varied from 400 grams to 3,7 kg, the average weight of female fish was 1,35 kg and 49,2 cm lengthwise; male salmons: weight – 1,44 kg and 50,1 cm lengthwise.

The productivity of hunchback salmon varied from 1600 up to 1700 hard-roes. The spawning of hunchback salmon in rivers is a little bit earlier than other salmons’; it is in the end of September – the beginning of October. There is no mixing between the spawning. Moreover, hunchback salmon doesn’t usually go up so far as the other ones do. As a food the hunchback salmon is as good as local salmons. And undoubtedly it should be rank among the most valuable trade fish.

Atlantic Salmon

Salmon is the most valuable species of Karelian water fauna. It is widespread along the White Sea coastline of Karelia, where it gets into 14 inflows for spawning, and in some of them it represents by single species.

The White Sea salmon is presented by two ecological types – winter and spring, differing in periods of spawning. The winter kind (also known as “autumn salmon”) gets into rivers beginning from the end of summer and till later autumn. In winter its migration up to rivers stops and recommences only in spring. The spring kind (also known as “summer” salmon) gets into rivers out of the sea and spawns in autumn the same year.

Its size depends on belonging to this or that biological group. Single species of the “autumn” salmon of the Kemi River weighted up to 16 kg. In other regions there are salmons of large size. For example, in the river Pechora were found salmons, weighting up to 40 kg, and in the mouth of the Neman River – 46 kg.

The salmon spawns in autumn (October). Its prolificacy (a number of matured roes) is relatively small – even large female salmons rarely have more than 20,000 roes. The majority of fish after the first spawning usually die, but some of them survive and the following fall, or usually in spring after floating of ice, get into the sea (so called “valichaki”) and can repeatedly spawn again.

The youth of salmon stays in rivers for 2-3 years, rarely for 5 years, and then leaves for the sea. But a part of young male salmons stay in rivers, and not gaining any more growth, reach puberty and participate in spawning alongside with large, arriving from the sea male salmons.

The salmon gets into the sea for a raptorial feeding, there it quickly grows and in search of food can move away from the shores for a long distance. Passing 1-3 years on fattening in the sea, the salmon comes back to the river, where it was born and where it had spent its first years of life. On the whole the continuance of salmon’s life is not great – no more than 5-8 years. It’s unlikely for the salmon to spawn more than two times, although in the literature the case of a fivefold spawning was recalled. That female salmon was caught in Scotland.

The salmon is a fast and strong fish. According to the results of marking, at the sea migration it can develop the speed of 100 km/h. When it goes into rivers, the speed considerably decreases, because the salmon has to surmount not only a current, but also numerous rapids.

As food the salmon doesn’t need advertising. Among the candidates to “red fish” by right it ranks the first place. Unfortunately, its number considerably has decreased. At special factories the pegged breeding is the most widespread facility for maintenance of salmon’s reserve in our country and abroad.

Lacustrine Salmon

In some lakes of Karelia lives special freshwater species of salmon –lacustrine salmon. It doesn’t go to the sea, but fattens in a lake and gets into rivers which inflow the lake. Its origin descends from the sea salmon.

Not considering its features of the “biography”, related to the sea, the lacustrine salmon has resemblance with the sea salmon not only in the way of living, but also in appearance. As the sea salmon, during a period of a river travel to the places of spawning the color of the lacustrine salmon turns into dark silver, at first with purple tint and then dark brown or almost black. The skin of such fish becomes thicker, the scales plunge into coverlet; the male salmons have a characteristic jut on the lower jaw – hook. As the salmon, the lacustrine salmon doesn’t feed in rivers; that’s why its internal organs undergo significant changes: intestines usually lose their digestion function, spleen increases in size, grows activity of some ferments in muscles and liver.

Periods of spawning in different rivers are appreciably different. For instance, the Shuiskiy salmon (Lake Onego) mainly gets into the river in spring and the first part of summer (May-June), but in most other rivers of northern Priladozhje (Hiitola, Ehala, Fuksa), Lake Segozero (Luzshma) and Lake Onego (Lizshma) prevails a summer-autumn spawning. The spawning is in October, in typical for salmon sections of river – small rapids with gravel and pebble grounds - at water temperature 2-6C. The youth lives in a river for 2-4 years and then goes into a lake. Their sizes, as grown-up fish, considerably vary depending on rivers, and very often there is no marked connection between these figures. For example, the youth of large Shuiskiy salmon (the average weight of grown-ups – 6,5 kg, and sometimes even 10-11 kg) runs up to 12-15 cm lengthwise at the average weight 26 grams; the youth of smaller Segozerskiy salmon (the average weight – 3,2 kg) is bigger – 35-50 grams.

The lifetime of the lacustrine salmon varies from 1 to 9 years.

The favorite food of the salmon is smelt and whitefish. The feeding movements of the salmon during this period mainly depend on fatten and spawning migrations of these fish. But quite often the food of the lacustrine salmon is tittlebat, bleak, and youth of white-fish.

In Karelia the freshwater species of salmon dwell in the largest lakes (Ladoga, Onego, Segozero, Vigozero, the lakes Kuito) and also in some middle-size lakes (Nyuk, Kamennoe, Sandal, Janisjarvi). It’s unlikely for salmons to get into the lakes Vodlozero and Vedlozero. They don’t resident there, but get here through the rivers Vama and Vidlitsa.

According to the total number of catches within Karelia, salmons fall to the share of small quantity. The salmon is especially valuable in our water fauna and that’s why it is one of the main trade fish.

Salmon trout

Salmon trout is a close relative of the sea salmon. It differs in color: its body is covered with numerous black spots, situated on the sides of the trunk. There is one more difference in the body structure: the tail fin along the back side is straight or has a very little groove. It also has a feebly marked breeding-dress. During spawning the jaws are less crooked and pulled out.

Along the White Sea coastline in Karelia salmon trout gets into the same rivers for spawning, as the salmon, but the beginning of it is a little bit later – in August-September. During a period of river migration salmon trout continues to feed, but less intensively than in the sea.

Salmon trout spawns, as all our salmons, in autumn – October-November – putting roes into pebbly-sandy grounds. The roes are large, up to 5 mm. A single female of salmon trout spawns about 3-4,000 roes and then buries them into the ground. After spawning the trout stays in the river for a year and goes into the sea only the next summer.

In the sea it lives for 1-4 years, reaching 50-70 cm lengthwise and weighting 3-4 kg. It happened to catch single species with 1 m lengthwise and 12 kg. On the whole, salmon trout grows slowly than the salmon.

As food the trout is highly valued, although the quality isn’t lower than the salmon’s one.

Lacustrine Trout

Lacustrine trout is freshwater species of the sea trout, from which its origin comes from. It’s likely to see lacustrine trout in many large and middle lakes of Karelia, and sometimes simultaneously with lacustrine salmon. In the largest northern lakes of the republic such as Pyaozero and Topozero lacustrine trout is the only representative of the family of noble salmons, because lacustrine salmon doesn’t dwell here. The trout has resemblance with the sea one in appearance.

According to the catches, the trout is usually 2-3 kg, and occasionally larger.

As other salmons, lacustrine trout for spawning gets into rivers. It is an undemanding fish (concerning a place for spawning) and can spawn even in streams with much waterlogged water. The trout doesn’t have well-defined periods of spawning migration. In large rivers (Shuya, Vodla) it may begin in the end of May and finish in September, so that the migration lasts during the whole summer. In small rivers and streams it starts in the second half of summer and lasts till autumn (September-October).

The prolificacy of Pyaozerskoy lacustrine trout in average is 6,000 roes, Ladozshskoy – 4-5,000 roes. The process of the spawning is similar to the spawning of other salmons – lacustrine salmon, sea trout. The youth of lacustrine trout lives in rivers for 5 years, even though its majority often goes to the sea on the third year of life.

As food its quality is as good as the salmon’s one. But there is no a special trade for this trout in Karelia, because its quantity is scanty.

River Trout

River trout, a small sort of trout, is widespread in numerous small rivers and streams of Karelia. It is numerous in small inflows of northern Priladozsh’e and in relatively large lakes of this basin (Olonka, Vidlitsa, Tuloksa etc.), in many streams and rivers of the basin of Onego (Orgozero, Derevyanka, Filippa, Tuba, Nemina etc.). The trout prefers running reservoirs with fast current and stony grounds.

Because of its color river trout slightly looks like the youth of the lacustrine salmon, which is frequently assumed as trout. But the trout differs from the youth of salmon in a large amount of little spots – black, orange and red, situated on the sides of the trunk and fins, and usually surrounded by light fillet.

River trout feeds with small Crustaceans and aquatic larvae of insects, and also matured insects, falling into the water or flying above it. Large trout can become a predator and eat small fish (minnow, bullhead), tadpoles and frogs.

River trout spawns, as other salmons in Karelia, in autumn, usually in October. Even though during the whole life it lives in the same reservoir, for spawning it makes a trip and gets into the upper of its rivers and streams. Its prolificacy, in comparison with other species, is not great – 200-1500 roes. In Karelian reservoirs river trout is a small fish, usually not exceeding 20 cm lengthwise and 50-100 grams in weight.

There is no trade of this fish in Karelia.

Red Loach

Red loach is the only representative of the family of loach in Karelian internal reservoirs. A number of reservoirs, in which the loach dwells, is the same as the number of lakes where lacustrine salmon and trout resident. But in the connection of its paucity and more complicated way of catch, the loach often remains unknown even for local citizens. There are two species of the loach in the largest lakes of Karelia (Ladoga, Onego): red and grey. These two species differ in appearance and the way of life.

Red loach has a dark-colored backbone fin and upper half of the trunk, usually speckled with light spots of various shape and size. The spots of different colors get often over the backbone fin.
Red loach is rather a large fish. Its average weight is 2-3 kg, but also can run up to 5-8 kg. Grey loach is lighter than the red one. Its color is more monotonous, no bright spots, but near the collateral line there are dark spots, alternating with the light ones, on the sides of the trunk. Grey loach is smaller: its average weight is 0,8-2 kg, and only rare species run up to 4 kg. In Segozero (Medvezsh’egorskiy region) was found one new kind of loaches – black-mouth loach. It is the smallest loach in Karelia. Its length doesn’t exceed 50 cm, and its weight is 200-950 grams.

The loach is a coldwater fish. That’s why it prefers wide opened reservoirs, where even in summer the water temperature is low, 10-12C. Grey loach lives at deep spots (up to 70-150 m); red loach lives at depths of 30-40 m. The common places of the loach dwelling are slopes of underwater stony shoals and hollows between them.

An adult loach is a typical predator. In summer when the loach keeps to deep spots it usually eats smelt, in autumn – whitefish. Some other fish are also food for the loach; they are tittlebats, bleak, small salmons, and also big Crustaceans. The loach doesn’t stop feeding in winter. In contrast to other salmons, the loach not only spends its time in the lake during fattening, but also spawns there. In Ladoga the main spawning places are in the west of the Valaam archipelago, near the islands Vossinansaari, Rahmansaari, in gulf of Kurkiekskiy; in Onego – near the islands Ivanovskie, the range Monatskiy, on Iordani luda, in Tolvuiskiy Onego, on Kalgostrovskiy ludas, in the north-western part of the lake.

The spawning period depends on hydrometric conditions. It can start in the second half of September at the water temperature 9-10C, and finish in October at the water temperature 6C.

The prolificacy is relatively small; in average it is about 4500 roes. The puberty is on the 7-9th year of life. The hard-roe is rather big, up to 5 mm, its development continues through winter. Besides Ladoga and Onego, in Karelia the loach dwells in a number of large lakes such as Topozero, Pyaozero, Segozero, and also in comparatively small lakes – Palie, Maslozero, Tumasozero, Syargozero etc.

As food its quality is almost as good as the salmon’ and the trout’ ones.

The White Salmon

The White Salmon is one of the valuable fish of our North, especially its Asian part. The White Salmon is very widespread along the Asian coastline of the Arctic Ocean up to the Bering Sea. The western border of its residence is the White Sea, but today there it is very scanty. For its color its looks like large white-fish: silvery with big body of scales without any spots.

The White Salmon is rather a big fish. It may run up to 1 m lengthwise and weighting 6-10 kg. There was specie of the fish reached 141 cm weighting 40 kg in Karelia.

In the sea the White Salmon doesn’t migrate much, it sticks to desalinated reservoirs and large rivers, jointed to mouths of rivers. Here it fattens mainly with small fish such as herring, capelin etc. For spawning the White Salmon gets into rivers, going up to their upper courses. Within the basin of the White Sea it gets into Severnaya Dvina, Onego; within Karelian rivers – Kem’, Vig, Suma, Nyuhcha. However, only single species of the White Salmon go into these rivers.

The White Salmon spawns in autumn, September-October, on stony grounds. The youth gets out of rivers during the first year, but some species stay in rivers for three years. In comparison with other salmons the White Salmon lives pretty long, more than 20 years. Its puberty begins later, about 10 years.

The European Whitefish

The European Whitefish is the most numerous specie of the salmon’s family, close related to the white-fish. It differs from the youth of the white-fish in thin, easy falling down scales and upper mouth, which low jaw comes forward of upper one.

In Karelian lakes the whitefish is very widespread. Mainly it is a trade fish in the republic. Like white-fish, the European Whitefish forms a number of species and almost in every reservoir it has specific morphological features.

Usually it is divided into two groups: large and small. The large one has the average weight of 50-150 grams and size more than 20 cm; the weight of the small whitefish doesn’t exceed of 25 grams with the length of 20 cm. The large whitefish dwells comparatively in a few lakes of southern Karelia – Nasonovsoe, Urosozero, Chuzshmozero, Munozero, Pertozero, Lizshmozero and others. The small whitefish is more widespread, and can be also seen in the same reservoirs where the large one residents. In our biggest lakes – Ladoga and Onego – besides the ordinary whitefish there are also species of a special large-size sort. In Onego it is called “kilets”, in Ladoga – “ripus”. The Onego kilets keeps to deep depths of the lake, weights 600 grams and 37 cm lengthwise; it has longer life cycle and slower growth rate in comparison with the large specie of the whitefish. It mainly feeds with bottom small crawfish. This specie can rarely be seen, no special trade for this fish.

The Ladoga ripus is larger, reaching 40 cm lengthwise and weighting up to 1,2 kg, even though its regular weight, according to catches, is 120-150 grams. It usually dwells in the southern part of Ladoga. In spring during the scarcity of forage sources the ripus can go into feeding with small fish – smelt. There is a special trade for this fish in Ladoga, and it is produced all the year round.

The whitefish as other salmons – is a coldwater fish. During a day it prefers to keep to deep depths of open part of a lake, at night it goes up to upper lawyers and comes to shoreline. This fish is a gregarious one. During a summer fatten period, migrations of the whitefish mainly depend on distribution of forage sources and water temperature. The main food of the whitefish is plankton, some larvae and chrysalises of mosquitoes, and also falling into water air insects. In winter when plankton is very scanty, the intensity of the whitefish feeding declines very much, and by spring it is greatly exhausted.

The whitefish spawns, as our Karelian salmons, in autumn, in the second half of October – beginning of November, i.e. before freezing-over. During spawning the whitefish forms small concentrations. It spawns on stony-sandy grounds, rarely on sandy-slimy ones at the depths of 0,5-32 m, depending on hydrometeorological conditions during the period.

The whitefish differs in short life cycle (the age limit– 5-6 years) and early pubescence. The whitefish is one of the main trade fish in Karelia, and is very valuable with its food qualities: its fattiness reaches 6,5 %. It is caught by stationary nets, beach seines, ordinary seines and nets.

The White Sea Whitefish

The White Sea Whitefish is a special subspecies of the Siberian whitefish in Karelia. It differs from the European one in position of a backbone fin, dislocated forward. The natural habitat of its spreading is limited by the White Sea, where it dwells in the gulf of Kandalaksha, along the shore in Karelia, near the Solovets islands, and also in some other regions. Its residence is usually near sections of rivers, from where it gets into and river’s lower courses.

For spawning the White Sea whitefish goes up a river (quite often with the passing salmon). The spawning is in autumn (October-November) on stony and pebbly grounds at feeble current. It is interesting to notice that besides the White Sea the whitefish also dwells in Karelia and Vodlozero that undoubtedly explains its penetration during post-glacial age. The White Sea whitefish is the same in size and food quality as the European one. But its trade meaning is pretty less important because of its paucity.

The White-fish

The White-fish forms more than 40 sorts in Karelian reservoirs. As it has already been mentioned before, the Karelian white-fish are related to the Baltic and Siberian white-fish. The sorts differ from each other in size, biology, structure of gill system, body shape and other features. Their practical values are also different. The white-fish is the most valuable fish of the internal reservoirs of Karelia.

By ecological features (place of residence and spawning) the white-fish is divided into passing and lacustrine ones. The lacustrine white-fish spend the whole life cycle in a lake, the passing ones from lakes and seas go up rivers for spawning at rapid sections of rivers. In rivers the youth spends the first year of life. Both the lacustrine and passing white-fish differ as well from each other as within their groups (quite often within the same reservoir) by size, the way of feeding, and development conditions. In all large reservoirs there are several types of the lacustrine and passing white-fish which usually have their local names. For instance, there are 9 species of the white-fish in Onego – Shuiskiy, Vodlinskiy, Sunskiy, Ludoga, Hollow white-fish etc.

Almost all of the white-fish of Karelian reservoirs are freshwater fish. The only fish that dwells in the coastal desalinated sea waters is the Arctic white-fish. The lacustrine white-fish, dwelling in Karelia, form several ecological groups, the way of life of which deals with special natural conditions of reservoirs or their parts. In Ladoga and Onego Ludoga is the most widespread and numerous fish of the lacustrine white-fish. Its name comes from its preferred residence on ludas – stony accumulations on bottoms of lakes. Here it finds its favourable food – plankton.

The Ludoga is a coldwater fish. When water temperature reaches 16-18C the fish leaves ludas and goes down into hollows. In autumn when water temperature begins to grow cold, the Ludoga comes to shoreline of lake, where it spawns, intensively eating as its own roes as roes of the whitefish. The Ludoga is the white-fish of small size, its usual length doesn’t exceed 40-45 cm, weighting 800 grams. In Ladoga and Onego another kind of the white-fish dwells there – the Hollow white-fish. In Ladoga it is called “valaamka”, in Onego – “zobatyi”. It is one of the biggest species of the white-fish. Its average weight is 0,8-1 kg with 40-50 cm lengthwise, but sometimes its runs up to 2 kg. The hollow white-fish is the most deep-water fish among the white-fish of Ladoga and Onego. It keeps to depths of 150 m, prefers slimy grounds where it feeds with different ground organisms. It spawns at stony ranges.

The majority of the white-fish of Karelian reservoirs belongs to fish of average lifetime of 8-12 years, just a few sorts (Shuyiskiy, Hollow one, Rantasiika) are long-livers (the age limit is 18-20 years). The “short-livers” are the white-fish of Syamozero – it lives only 6 years. The spawning of the most fish is in autumn (October-November), some species (valaamka, Ladoga black white-fish, kilone) spawn in the beginning of winter.

The Pelyad

The Pelyad dwells in the basin of the Arctic Ocean, from Mezen on the west to Kolima on the east. It differs from other fish in mouth and multiplicity (49-68) of gill stamens. The body is high, the color is darker than other salmons have, and there are black spots on the head and backbone fin.

In Karelia the Pelyad can be seen as in natural reservoirs (Onego, Syamozero, Vodlozero, Vedlozero etc.) as in lakes of trade production, where it is produced artificially. Being an object of trade the Pelyad has numerous valuable biological and trade qualities: unpretentiousness for place of inhabitance, high grow rate, fast pubescence.

The Pelyad mainly lives on plankton (predominantly Crustaceans) during the whole life. At the same time in other reservoirs as growing older it readily uses other food – ground organisms (larvae and chrysalises of aquatic creatures), and air insects.

The prolificacy in different reservoirs considerably varies, averaging about 25,000 roes (the maximum – 85,000 roes). The spawning is in later autumn. The Pelyad’s food qualities are very high: it’s tasty and rich fish. Its fatness runs to 13%.