The huchen // or Danube salmon (Hucho hucho) is a large species of freshwater fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is the type species of its genus. The huchen is endemic to the Danube basin in Europe where the remaining population is threatened by overfishing and habitat loss. It has been introduced elsewhere on the continent and in Morocco, but most of these population are not self-sustaining. In historic times it occurred also in the Dniestr basin. Sometimes it lives in big dam reservoirs on mountain rivers like Czorsztyn Lake in Poland. Some authors[who?] consider the taimen to be a subspecies of the huchen.
Appearance and behavior
The huchen reaches about 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in length and more than 50 kg (110 lb) in weight. The average length is about 60 to 120 cm (24 to 47 inches). The huchen has a slender body that is nearly round in cross-section. On the reddish brown back are several dark patches in an X or crescent shape. Smaller fish feed on the larvae of water insects or on insects dropped into the water; the larger individuals are predators of other species of fish and other small vertebrates such as mice crossing rivers.
This largest permanent fresh water salmonid spawns in April, once water reaches a temperature of 6 to 9 °C (43 to 48 °F). For spawning, the huchen migrates up the river, where females excavate depressions in the gravel in which to deposit the eggs. Larvae hatch 30 to 35 days after fertilisation.
There is now a considerable commercial effort to produce huchen fry to re-introduce the species into the wild. This requires the adults being caught just before spawning and kept in special tanks. Fry are released in appropriate places once they have reached 4 to 10 centimetres (1.6 to 3.9 in).
The world record huchen was 58 kilograms (128 lb), caught by Bosnian angler Halil Sofradžija at Dragojevića Rapids on the Drina river, near the town of Ustikolina in Bosnia and Herzegovina in January 1938. He used rod and reel.
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