Re: NANFA-- Cold Water Algae Eating Fish, Bitterling

Christopher Scharpf (
Thu, 07 Feb 2002 07:35:17 -0400

Interesting e-mail, Mark!

> I think I have discovered another temperate algae-eating fish. I have some
> bitterlings, Rhodeus sericeus, a minnow that is native to most of Europe.

Yes, in the wild bitterling browse microscopic algae and graze silkweed and
pondweed. They will also eat invertebrates.

> Now I've just got to get some mussels to spawn them in. Anyone have any
> experience with this?

I have no experience with bitterling, but I've read that it's the mere SIGHT
of mussels that triggers reproduction. So maybe some empty mussel shells
will work. Treat the wife to a mussel dinner tonight and write it off as a
business expense! :-)

> On another note, this species has been successfully introduced in the Hudson
> River in New York, so, if you get some, _don't_ let them loose in your home
> waters!

According to the USGS, its numbers in NY are declining, apparently as a
result of a declining freshwater mussel population brought about by water

Bitterling trivia: Did you know that bitterling were once used in human
pregnancy tests? Females injected with urine from pregnant women protruded
their ovipositors, thus indicating a future visit from a stork. Large
numbers of bitterling were collected from the wild for this purpose.

Chris Scharpf

"Protecting species is the same intrinsic gesture as preserving the original
documents and constitutions of an entire civilization, or the love letters
of grandparents."
-- Craig Childs, The Secret Knowledge of Water

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