Barbus barbus

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Common barbel
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Barbus
Species: B. barbus
Binomial name
Barbus barbus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Cyprinus barbus Linnaeus, 1758

Barbus barbus is a species of freshwater fish in the Cyprinidae family of minnows and carps. It shares the common name "barbel" with its many relatives in the genus Barbus[2][3] and is properly known as the common barbel.

B. barbus is native throughout Europe and China and has become established as an introduced species in Morocco and Italy.

Juvenile barbel

The fish is ideally suited to fast flowing waters, adult size is up to 1.2 m (4 ft) in length and 12 kg (26 lb) in weight, although it is typically found smaller (50–100 cm length, weight 1–3 kg).[4][5] It is slightly laterally compressed, lacks an adipose fin, has a dark brown or grey mottled appearance, the underside is light coloured, and the fins have a reddish tinge.

B. barbus is benthopelagic, meaning they are found at the bottom of rivers as well as in open water. They are typically found feeding in deeper areas of rivers with a rocky or gravel bottom. Feeding is on benthic organisms, including crustaceans, insect larvae and mollusks.

Males become mature after three to four years, females after five to eight years, spawning occurs after upriver migration during May, June and July and 8,000 to 12,000 eggs are produced per kilogram of bodyweight.[4][5] The eggs are poisonous.[citation needed]

The name derives from "barb" giving rise to both the scientific and common names, B. barbus has of course, excellent examples of barbels. In English folklore the barbel was once called the pigfish.[4][5]


Parasites of Barbus barbus include:

The barbel in the UK[edit]

B. barbus plays a minor role in commercial aquaculture, however they are a very popular sport fish. In the UK it reaches a size of up to 21 pounds, with anything of more than 10 pounds considered to be of specimen size. Famous barbel rivers include the River Trent, Hampshire Avon, the Kennet, the Great Ouse, the Dorset Stour and more recently the River Wye, Severn, Wensum and the Teme, where the barbel was not native but has thrived after its introduction.

Such is the popularity of the barbel that angling societies exist which specifically promote the pursuit and conservation of the species.


  1. ^ Freyhof, J. & Kottelat, M. (2008). "Barbus barbus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  2. ^ "Common Names of Barbus barbus". June 2006. 
  3. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Barbus barbus" in FishBase. March 2006 version.
  4. ^ a b c Stephen Gledhill (2006). "Barbel Homepage". The Environment Agency. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c "Search Results for Barbus barbus". Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  6. ^ Schludermann C., Laimgruber S., Konecny R. & Schabuss M. (2005). "Aspidogaster limacoides DIESING, 1835 (Trematoda, Aspidogastridae): A new parasite of Barbus barbus (L.) (Pisces, Cyprinidae) in Austria". Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien 106B: 141-144.

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