The Cyprinidae are the family of freshwater fishes, collectively called cyprinids, that includes the carps, the true minnows, and their relatives (for example, the barbs and barbels). Also commonly called the "carp family", or "minnow family", Cyprinidae is the largest and most diverse known fish family and the largest vertebrate animal family in general, with about 3,000 living and extinct species but only 1,270 remain extant. They range from about 12 mm to 3meters[1] Catlocarpio siamensis. This certain family of fish is one of the only that do not take care of their eggs. In about 370 genera.[2][3] The family belongs to the ostariophysian order Cypriniformes, of whose genera and species the cyprinids make more than two-thirds.[2][3][4] The family name is derived from the Ancient Greek kyprînos (κυπρῖνος, "carp").

Temporal range: Eocene - Holocene
Caprinus carpio Prague Vltava 1
The common carp, Cyprinus carpio
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Superfamily: Cyprinoidea
Family: Cyprinidae

and see text

Biology and ecology

Cyprinids are stomachless fish with toothless jaws. Even so, food can be effectively chewed by the gill rakers of the specialized last gill bow. These pharyngeal teeth allow the fish to make chewing motions against a chewing plate formed by a bony process of the skull. The pharyngeal teeth are unique to each species and are used by scientists to identify species. Strong pharyngeal teeth allow fish such as the common carp and ide to eat hard baits such as snails and bivalves.

Hearing is a well-developed sense in the cyprinids since they have the Weberian organ, three specialized vertebral processes that transfer motion of the gas bladder to the inner ear. The vertebral processes of the Weberian organ also permit a cyprinid to detect changes in motion of the gas bladder due to atmospheric conditions or depth changes. The cyprinids are considered physostomes because the pneumatic duct is retained in adult stages and the fish are able to gulp air to fill the gas bladder, or they can dispose excess gas to the gut.

Giant Barb
Giant barbs (Catlocarpio siamensis) are the largest members of this family

Cyprinids are native to North America, Africa, and Eurasia. The largest known cyprinid is the giant barb (Catlocarpio siamensis), which may grow up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and 300 kg (660 lb) in weight.[5] Other very large species that can surpass 2 m (6.6 ft) are the golden mahseer (Tor putitora) and mangar (Luciobarbus esocinus).[6][7] The largest North American species is the Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), which can reach up to 1.8 m (5.9 ft) in length.[8] Conversely, many species are smaller than 5 cm (2 in). The smallest known fish is Paedocypris progenetica, reaching 10.3 mm (0.41 in) at the longest.[9]

All fish in this family are egg-layers and most do not guard their eggs; however, a few species build nests and/or guard the eggs. The bitterlings of subfamily Acheilognathinae are notable for depositing their eggs in bivalve molluscs, where the young develop until able to fend for themselves.

Most cyprinids feed mainly on invertebrates and vegetation, probably due to the lack of teeth and stomach; however, some species, like the asp, are predators that specialize in fish. Many species, such as the ide and the common rudd, prey on small fish when individuals become large enough. Even small species, such as the moderlieschen, are opportunistic predators that will eat larvae of the common frog in artificial circumstances.

Some cyprinids, such as the grass carp, are specialized herbivores; others, such as the common nase, eat algae and biofilms, while others, such as the black carp, specialize in snails, and some, such as the silver carp, are specialized filter feeders. For this reason, cyprinids are often introduced as a management tool to control various factors in the aquatic environment, such as aquatic vegetation and diseases transmitted by snails.

Unlike most fish species, cyprinids generally increase in abundance in eutrophic lakes. Here, they contribute towards positive feedback as they are efficient at eating the zooplankton that would otherwise graze on the algae, reducing its abundance.

Relationship with humans

Cyprinids wild capture
Wild capture of cyprinids by species in million tonnes, 1950–2009, as reported by the FAO[10]

Cyprinids are highly important food fish; they are fished and farmed across Eurasia. In land-locked countries in particular, cyprinids are often the major species of fish eaten because they make the largest part of biomass in most water types except for fast-flowing rivers. In Eastern Europe, they are often prepared with traditional methods such as drying and salting. The prevalence of inexpensive frozen fish products made this less important now than it was in earlier times. Nonetheless, in certain places, they remain popular for food, as well as recreational fishing, and have been deliberately stocked in ponds and lakes for centuries for this reason.[11]

Cyprinids are popular for angling especially for match fishing (due to their dominance in biomass and numbers) and fishing for common carp because of its size and strength.

Several cyprinids have been introduced to waters outside their natural ranges to provide food, sport, or biological control for some pest species. The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) are the most important of these, for example in Florida. In some cases, such as the Asian carp in the Mississippi Basin, they have become invasive species that compete with native fishes or disrupt the environment. Carp in particular can stir up sediment, reducing the clarity of the water and making it difficult for plants to grow.[12][13]

Numerous cyprinids have become important in the aquarium and fishpond hobbies, most famously the goldfish, which was bred in China from the Prussian carp (Carassius (auratus) gibelio). First imported into Europe around 1728, it was much fancied by Chinese nobility as early as 1150 AD and after it arrived there in 1502, also in Japan. In the latter country, from the 18th century onwards, the common carp was bred into the ornamental variety known as koi – or more accurately nishikigoi (錦鯉), as koi () simply means "common carp" in Japanese.

Other popular aquarium cyprinids include danionins, rasborines, and true barbs.[14] Larger species are bred by the thousands in outdoor ponds, particularly in Southeast Asia, and trade in these aquarium fishes is of considerable commercial importance. The small rasborines and danionines are perhaps only rivalled by characids and poecilid livebearers in their popularity for community aquaria.

One particular species of these small and undemanding danionines is the zebrafish (Danio rerio). It has become the standard model species for studying developmental genetics of vertebrates, in particular fish.[15]

Habitat destruction and other causes have reduced the wild stocks of several cyprinids to dangerously low levels; some are already entirely extinct. In particular, the cyprinids of the subfamily Leuciscinae from southwestern North America have been hit hard by pollution and unsustainable water use in the early to mid-20th century; most globally extinct cypriniform species are in fact leuciscinid cyprinids from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.


The massive diversity of cyprinids has so far made it difficult to resolve their phylogeny in sufficient detail to make assignment to subfamilies more than tentative in many cases. Some distinct lineages obviously exist – for example, the Cultrinae and Leuciscinae, regardless of their exact delimitation, are rather close relatives and stand apart from Cyprininae – but the overall systematics and taxonomy of the Cyprinidae remain a subject of considerable debate. A large number of genera are incertae sedis, too equivocal in their traits and/or too little-studied to permit assignment to a particular subfamily with any certainty.[16][17][18]

Part of the solution seems that the delicate rasborines are the core group, consisting of minor lineages that have not shifted far from their evolutionary niche, or have coevolved for millions of years. These are among the most basal lineages of living cyprinids. Other "rasborines" are apparently distributed across the diverse lineages of the family.[17]

The validity and circumscription of proposed subfamilies like the Labeoninae or Squaliobarbinae also remain doubtful, although the latter do appear to correspond to a distinct lineage. The sometimes-seen grouping of the large-headed carps (Hypophthalmichthyinae) with Xenocypris, though, seems quite in error. More likely, the latter are part of the Cultrinae.[17]

The entirely paraphyletic "Barbinae" and the disputed Labeoninae might be better treated as part of the Cyprininae, forming a close-knit group whose internal relationships are still little known. The small African "barbs" do not belong in Barbus sensu stricto – indeed, they are as distant from the typical barbels and the typical carps (Cyprinus) as these are from Garra (which is placed in the Labeoninae by most who accept the latter as distinct) and thus might form another as yet unnamed subfamily. However, as noted above, how various minor lineages tie into this has not yet been resolved; therefore, such a radical move, though reasonable, is probably premature.[16][19][20]

The tench (Tinca tinca), a significant food species farmed in western Eurasia in large numbers, is unusual. It is most often grouped with the Leuciscinae, but even when these were rather loosely circumscribed, it always stood apart. A cladistic analysis of DNA sequence data of the S7 ribosomal protein intron 1 supports the view that it is distinct enough to constitute a monotypic subfamily. It also suggests it may be closer to the small East Asian Aphyocypris, Hemigrammocypris, and Yaoshanicus. They would have diverged roughly at the same time from cyprinids of east-central Asia, perhaps as a result of the Alpide orogeny that vastly changed the topography of that region in the late Paleogene, when their divergence presumably occurred.[18]

A DNA-based analysis of these fish places the Rasborinae as the basal lineage with the Cyprininae as a sister clade to the Leuciscinae.[21] The subfamilies Acheilognathinae, Gobioninae, and Leuciscinae are monophyletic.


Phylogeny of living Cyprinoidei[22][23] with clade names from van der Laan 2017.[24]




































Hemibarbus-Squalidus clade











Subfamilies and genera

Rainbow shark, Epalzeorhynchos frenatum, a somewhat aggressive aquarium fish
Danio kerri
Blue danio, Danio kerri: Danioninae
Hypophthalmichthys molitrix adult
Silver carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix: Xenocyprinae, alternatively Hypophthalmichthyinae
Labeo rohita
Rohu, Labeo rohita, of the disputed Labeoninae
The tench, Tinca tinca, is of unclear affiliations and often placed in a subfamily of its own.

Subfamily Probarbinae

Subfamily Labeoninae

Subfamily Torinae

Subfamily Smiliogastrinae

Subfamily Cyprininae [incl. Barbinae]

Subfamily Danioninae

Subfamily Leptobarbinae

Hemitremia flammea
Flame chub Hemitremia flammea, one of the chubs in the Leuciscinae)
Ide, Leuciscus idus , one of the Eurasian daces
Phoxinus oxycephalus jouyi1
Rhynchocypris oxycephalus, a minnow related to some North American daces
Trigonostigma somphongsi
Trigonostigma somphongsi, a rasbora, a relative of the blue danio above
Mylopharyngodon piceus
Black carp, Mylopharyngodon piceus: Squaliobarbinae

Subfamily Xenocypridinae [incl. Cultrinae & Squaliobarbinae]

Subfamily Tincinae

Subfamily Acheilognathinae (bitterlings)

Subfamily Gobioninae

Subfamily Tanichthyinae

Subfamily Leuciscinae [incl. Alburninae]

Incertae sedis

Hemigrammocypris rasborella(Fujieda-shi,Shizuoka-ken,Japan)
Hemigrammocypris rasborella, of uncertain relationship:
Possibly related to Aphyocypris.

See also


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  9. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2015). "Paedocypris progenetica" in FishBase. March 2015 version.
  10. ^ Based on data sourced from the FishStat database
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  15. ^ Helfman, Gene S.; Collette, Bruce B.; Facey, Douglas E. (1997). The diversity of fishes. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Science. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-86542-256-8. OCLC 299475257.
  16. ^ a b De Graaf, Martin; Megens, Hendrik-Jan; Samallo, Johannis; Sibbing, Ferdinand A. (2007). "Evolutionary origin of Lake Tana's (Ethiopia) small Barbus species: Indications of rapid ecological divergence and speciation". Animal Biology. 57: 39–48. doi:10.1163/157075607780002069.
  17. ^ a b c He, Shunping; Mayden, Richard L.; Wang, Xuzheng; Wang, Wei; Tang, Kevin L.; Chen, Wei-Jen; Chen, Yiyu (2008). "Molecular phylogenetics of the family Cyprinidae (Actinopterygii: Cypriniformes) as evidenced by sequence variation in the first intron of S7 ribosomal protein-coding gene: Further evidence from a nuclear gene of the systematic chaos in the family" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 46 (3): 818–29. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.06.001. PMID 18203625.
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  23. ^ Lei Yang; Tetsuya Sado; M. Vincent Hirt; Emmanuel Pasco-Viel; M. Arunachalam; Junbing Li; Xuzhen Wang; Jörg Freyhof; Kenji Saitoh; Andrew M. Simons; Masaki Miya; Shunping He; Richard L. Mayden (2015). "Phylogeny and Polyploidy: Resolving the Classification of Cyprinine Fishes (Teleostei: Cypriniformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 85 (February 2015): 97. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2015.01.014.
  24. ^ van der Laan, Richard (December 2017). Freshwater fish list (PDF) (23rd ed.). p. 997. ISSN 2468-9157.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
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  31. ^ Pethiyagoda, R (2013). "Haludaria, a replacement generic name for Dravidia (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3646 (2): 199. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3646.2.9.
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  33. ^ Britz, Ralf; Kottelat, Maurice; Tan, Heok (1 December 2011). "Fangfangia spinicleithralis, a new genus and species of miniature cyprinid fish from the peat swamp forests of Borneo (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)". Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters. 22 (4): 327–335.
  34. ^ Yang J, He S, Freyhof J, Witte K, Liu H (2006). "The phylogenetic relationships of the Gobioninae (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences". Hydrobiologia. 553: 255–66. doi:10.1007/s10750-005-1301-3.
  35. ^ a b Bianco, P.G.; Ketmaier, V. (2014). "A revision of the Rutilus complex from Mediterranean Europe with description of a new genus, Sarmarutilus, and a new species, Rutilus stoumboudae (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3841 (3): 379–402. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3841.3.4.
  36. ^ Nguyen, V.H.; Nguyen, H.D.; Nguyen, T.D.P. (2016). "Vinalabeo, a new generic name for Vinalabeo tonkinensis (Cyprinidae, Teleostei)". Journal of Science of Hnue, Natural Sciences. 61 (9): 140–144.

Alburnus is a genus of fish in the family Cyprinidae, the carps and minnows. They are known commonly as bleaks. A group of species in the genus are known as shemayas. The genus occurs in the western Palearctic ecozone, and the center of diversity is in Turkey.The genus Chalcalburnus is now part of Alburnus.


Barbinae are a subfamily of fish included in the family Cyprinidae. The taxonomy for this group has not been entirely worked out as some genera historically considered within it are still considered incertae sedis with respect to being a member of the family, and may be included here, while others may be moved to other subfamilies.


Barbus is a genus of ray-finned fish in the family Cyprinidae. The type species of Barbus is the common barbel, first described as Cyprinus barbus and now named Barbus barbus. Barbus is the namesake genus of the subfamily Barbinae, but given their relationships, that taxon is better included in the Cyprininae at least for the largest part (including the type species of Barbus).


Cavefish or cave fish is a generic term for fresh and brackish water fish adapted to life in caves and other underground habitats. Related terms are subterranean fish, troglomorphic fish, troglobitic fish, stygobitic fish, phreatic fish and hypogean fish.The more than 200 scientifically described species of obligate cavefish are found on all continents, except Antarctica. Although widespread as a group, many cavefish species have very small ranges and are seriously threatened. Cavefish are members of a wide range of families and do not form a monophyletic group. Typical adaptations found in cavefish are reduced eyes and pigmentation.

Common roach

The roach (Rutilus rutilus), also known as the common roach, is a fresh and brackish water fish of the Cyprinidae family, native to most of Europe and western Asia. Fishes called roach can be any species of the genera Rutilus and Hesperoleucus, depending on locality. The plural of the term is also roach.


The Cultrinae are one of at least 13 subfamilies of cyprinid fish. It contains ten genera.


Cypriniformes is an order of ray-finned fish, including the carps, minnows, loaches and relatives. This order contains 11-12 families, over 400 genera, and more than 4,250 species, with new species being described every few months or so, and new genera being recognized frequently. They are most diverse in southeastern Asia, and are entirely absent from Australia and South America.Their closest living relatives are the Characiformes (characins and allies), the Gymnotiformes (electric eel and American knifefishes) and the Siluriformes (catfishes).


Garra is a genus of fish in the family Cyprinidae. These fish are one example of the "log suckers", sucker-mouthed barbs and other cyprinids commonly kept in aquaria to keep down algae. The doctor fish of Anatolia and the Middle East belongs in this genus. The majority of the more than 140 species of garras are native to Asia, but about one-fifth of the species are from Africa (East, Middle and West, but by far the highest species richness in Ethiopia).The genus was established by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in 1822 as a subgenus of Cyprinus (which at that time was a "wastebin genus" for carp-like cyprinids); he did not designate a type species. But as no other garras except the newly discovered G. lamta were known to science in 1822, this was designated as the type species by Pieter Bleeker in 1863. The garras and their closest relatives are sometimes placed in a subfamily Garrinae, but this seems hardly warranted. More often, this group is included in the Labeoninae, or together with these in the Cyprininae. In the former case, the garras are members of the labeonine tribe Garrini, in the latter they are in the subtribe Garraina of tribe Labeonini. The genus Discogobio is a close relative.


Gobioninae is a monophyletic subfamily of Eurasian cyprinid fishes. A species-rich subfamily, it is divided into five tribes: Gobionini, Pseudogobionini, Hemibarbini, Coreiini and Sarcocheilichthyini.

In order to adapt to different masticatory operations, members of Gobioninae developed various types of pharyngeal bones and teeth: some have intermediate pharyngeal bones with rows of diverse teeth (conical, and compressed and coarsely compressed), others have broad pharyngeal bones with a single row of molar teeth. There are also Gobioninae having narrow pharyngeal bones with a row of extremely compressed teeth.

Gudgeon (fish)

Gudgeon is the common name for a number of small freshwater fish of the families Cyprinidae, Eleotridae or Ptereleotridae. Most gudgeons are elongate, bottom-dwelling fish, many of which live in rapids and other fast moving water.


Labeo is a genus of carps in the family Cyprinidae. They are found mainly in the Old World tropics.

It contains the typical labeos in the subfamily Labeoninae, which may not be a valid group, however, and is often included in the Cyprininae as tribe Labeonini. If the Labeoninae are accepted as distinct, Labeonini is the name of the tribe in this subfamily to which the labeos belong. If the Labeonini are considered a tribe of the Cyprininae, the labeos are placed in subtribe Labeoina.

The labeos appear fairly similar to the "freshwater sharks" of the genus Epalzeorhynchos, which is also part of the Labeoninae (or Labeonini), but is not very closely related. Labeos are larger, and have a more spindle-shaped body, as they are mostly free-swimming rather than benthic like Epalzeorhynchos. Their mouths look very different, too; they have a pronounced rostral cap, which covers the upper lip except when feeding. The lips are expanded into thick, sausage-shaped pads which have keratinized edges. Thus, their mouth parts are moderately apomorphic; not as little-developed as in barbs or in Epalzeorhynchos, but neither as extensive as in, for example, Garra or Ptychidio. The genus name Labeo is Latin for "one who has large lips".Labeos have the two barbels on the rostrum which are common among the Cyprinidae, and also another pair of barbels at the rear edges of the lower maxilla, which has been lost in some of their relatives. They have a well-developed vomeropalatine organ. In the Weberian apparatus, the posterior supraneural bone is elongated and contacts the skull at the forward end.


Labeobarbus is a mid-sized ray-finned fish genus in the family Cyprinidae. Its species are widely distributed throughout eastern Africa and especially southern Africa, but also in Lake Tana in Ethiopia. A common name, in particular for the southern species, is yellowfish. The scientific name refers to the fact that these large barbs remind of the fairly closely related "carps" in the genus Labeo in size and shape. As far as can be told, all Labeobarbus species are hexaploid.


Labeoninae is a doubtfully distinct subfamily of ray-finned fishes in the family Cyprinidae of order Cypriniformes. They inhabit fresh water and the largest species richness is in the region around southern China, but there are also species elsewhere in Asia, and some members of Garra and Labeo are from Africa. They are a generally very apomorphic group, perhaps the most "advanced" of the Cyprinidae. A common name for these fishes is labeonins (when considered a distinct subfamily) or labeoins (when included in subfamily Cyprininae).

They include the group sometimes separated as Garrinae, but these do not seem to be that distinct. In fact, the entire Labeoninae is merged into the Cyprininae by a number of authors; in any case, these two and the former "Barbinae" form a close-knit group whose internal phylogeny is far from resolved. If the subfamily is considered distinct, it is typically split in the tribes Labeonini (which are able to swim well in open water) and Garrini (which are mostly benthic), and sometimes in addition the Banganini (which are somewhat intermediate in habitus) If the labeo lineage is included in the Cyprininae, it becomes the tribe Labeonini, while its two (or three) subdivisions are the subtribes Labeoina, Garraina and perhaps Banganina.Notable genera are Crossocheilus, Epalzeorhynchos and Garra, which contain some of the popular aquarium fishes often called "algae eaters", e.g. the Siamese algae-eater (Crossocheilus siamensis). Labeo – the type genus of this subfamily – contains many sizeable species which are often used as food.

Anatomically, the labeonins are distinguished by the Weberian apparatus contacting the skull with the supraneural bones, and its basioccipital process being concave in cross-section. The first vertebra has a parapophysis that is elongated to forward and partially overlaps the basioccipital process. The fourth vertebra, meanwhile, has a short but stout transverse process that is prominently elongated bellywards; the os suspensorium is often hidden behind if viewed from the side. In the skull, the frontal and sphenotic bones have prominent foramina. In the anal fin, the first pterygiophore is elongated and has well-developed anterior and posterior flanges, with the former very large and concave at the distal end. Most labeonins have the skinny flap of the underside of the snout well-developed into a fleshy cap that at least partially hides the upper lip except when feeding, and a similar structure at the lower lip.


The Leuciscinae, commonly known as true minnows, are a large subfamily of the freshwater fish family Cyprinidae.Smaller fish in the Leuciscinae are known as minnows. However, the term minnow is also used as an unspecific term for tiny freshwater and saltwater fish, especially those used as fishing bait.


Puntius is a genus of small freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae native to South Asia and Mainland Southeast Asia, as well as Taiwan.Many species formerly placed in Puntius have been moved to other genera such as Barbodes, Dawkinsia, Desmopuntius, Haludaria, Oliotius, Pethia, Puntigrus, Sahyadria and Systomus.


Rasbora is a genus of fish in the family Cyprinidae. They are native to freshwater habitats in South and Southeast Asia, as well as southeast China. A single species, R. gerlachi, is only known from an old specimen that reputedly originated from Africa (Cameroon), but this locality is considered doubtful. They are small, up to 17 cm (6.7 in) long, although most species do not surpass 10 cm (4 in) and many have a dark vertical stripe.Several species are regularly kept in aquariums. As a common English name, "rasbora" is used for many species in the genus Rasbora, as well as several species in genera Brevibora, Boraras, Megarasbora, Metzia, Microdevario, Microrasbora, Rasboroides, Rasbosoma, Sawbwa, Trigonopoma and Trigonostigma. Some of these related genera were included in the genus Rasbora in the past. In a 2007 analysis, Rasbora was found to not be a monophyletic assemblage. However Boraras and Trigonostigma were determined to be monophyletic.


Rutilus is a genus of fish in the family Cyprinidae found in Eurasia. This genus is a widely distributed lineage of cyprinids and ranges from West Europe to East Siberia.


Scardinius is a genus of ray-finned fish in the Cyprinidae family commonly called rudds. Locally, the name "rudd" without any further qualifiers is also used for individual species, particularly the common rudd (S. erythrophthalmus). The rudd can be distinguished from the very similar roach by way of the rudd's upturned mouth, allowing it to pick food items such as aquatic insects from the surface of the water with minimal disturbance.

The Greek rudd (S. graecus) is a similar fish, about 40 cm long. It occurs only in the southern tip of the Greek mainland. It lives in lakes and slow-flowing rivers, forming large schools. It spawns around April–June among underwater plants in shallow water. It feeds on small crustaceans, the larvae and pupae of insects, and on plant material. The majority of its food is taken at or near the surface of the water. The fish is not usually found in deep water. Very little is known about the biology of this species. It is important locally, both to anglers and commercial companies.


Squalius is a genus of fish in the family Cyprinidae found in Europe and Asia. Hybridization is not rare in the Cyprinidae, including this genus. S. alburnoides is known to be of ancient hybrid origin, with the paternal lineage deriving from a prehistoric species related to Anaecypris; the latter mated with ancestral S. pyrenaicus. Present-day S. alburnoides mates with sympatric congeners of other species.

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