Rutilus rutilus (roach)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Water Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Rutilus rutilus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Cyprinus fulvus Vallot, 1837
- Cyprinus jaculus Jurine, 1825
- Cyprinus lacustris Pallas, 1814
- Cyprinus pigus Gronow, 1854
- Cyprinus rubellio Leske, 1774
- Cyprinus rutilus Linnaeus, 1758
- Cyprinus ruttilus Linnaeus, 1758
- Cyprinus simus Hermann, 1804
- Cyprinus xanthopterus Vallot, 1837
- Gardonus pigulus Bonaparte, 1841
- Gardonus ruboculus Walecki, 1863
- Leuciscus decipiens Agassiz, 1835
- Leuciscus heckelii Nordmann, 1840
- Leuciscus jurinii Dybowski, 1862
- Leuciscus lividus Heckel, 1843
- Leuciscus pallens Blanchard, 1866
- Leuciscus pausingeri Heckel, 1843
- Leuciscus pigus dojranensis Karaman, 1928
- Leuciscus prasinus Agassiz, 1835
- Leuciscus rutiloides Selys-Longchamps, 1842
- Leuciscus rutilus (Linnaeus, 1758)
- Leuciscus rutilus aurata Fatio, 1882
- Leuciscus rutilus auratus Yakovlev, 1873
- Leuciscus rutilus bolmensis Malm, 1877
- Leuciscus rutilus caspicus Yakovlev, 1870
- Leuciscus rutilus communis Rossikov, 1895
- Leuciscus rutilus crassa Fatio, 1882
- Leuciscus rutilus daugawensis Dybowski, 1862
- Leuciscus rutilus elata Fatio, 1882
- Leuciscus rutilus elongata Fatio, 1882
- Leuciscus rutilus erytraea Antipa, 1909
- Leuciscus rutilus fluviatilis Yakovlev, 1873
- Leuciscus rutilus terekensis Rossikov, 1895
- Leuciscus rutilus vobla Dikson, 1909
- Leuciscus rutilus wobla Grimm, 1896
- Leuciscus selysii Selys-Longchamps, 1842
- Leucos cenisophius Bonaparte, 1841
- Leucos pigulus Bonaparte, 1844
- Rutilus heckelii (Nordmann, 1840)
- Rutilus rutilus aralensis Berg, 1916
- Rutilus rutilus aralensis phragmiteti Berg, 1932
- Rutilus rutilus bucharensis Nikolsky, 1933
- Rutilus rutilus carpathorossicus Vladykov, 1930
- Rutilus rutilus caspicus (Yakovlev, 1870)
- Rutilus rutilus caspicus geoktshaicus Barach, 1941
- Rutilus rutilus caspicus knipowitschi Pravdin, 1927
- Rutilus rutilus caspicus kurensis Berg, 1932
- Rutilus rutilus caspicus tscharchalensis Berg, 1932
- Rutilus rutilus frici Misik, 1957
- Rutilus rutilus goplensis Stangenberg, 1938
- Rutilus rutilus lacustris Pallas, 1814
- Rutilus rutilus lacustris menschikowi Kirillov, 1962
- Rutilus rutilus mariza Drensky, 1926
- Rutilus rutilus rutilus (Linnaeus, 1758)
- Rutilus rutilus schelkovnikovi Derjavin, 1926
- Rutilus rutilus sucharensis Stangenberg, 1938
- Rutilus rutilus uzboicus Berg, 1932
- Rutilus rutilus vegariticus Stephanidis, 1950
International Common Names
- English: common roach
- Spanish: rutilo
- French: blanchet; echatout; gardon; gardon blanc; plotze; roche; vengeron
- Russian: plotva; plotva obyknovennaya; taran
Local Common Names
- Austria: rotauge
- Belarus: plot’; plotica; plotka
- Bulgaria: babushka; tarran
- Czech Republic: plotica obycajna; plotice obecná
- Denmark: gråskalle; skalle
- Finland: särki
- Germany: Meefischli; Plötze; Roddogen; Rotauge; Rothauge; Weißfisch
- Greece: tsironi
- Hungary: bodorka
- Iran: kolme; kolmeie Gorgon; mahi Cheshm Qermez; talaji
- Ireland: roiste
- Italy: rutilo
- Netherlands: blankvoorn
- Norway: mort
- Poland: ploc; ploc aralska
- Portugal: pardelha-dos-Alpes
- Romania: babuscä; ocheana; taranca
- Slovakia: plotica obycajná
- Slovenia: rdeceoka
- Sweden: mört
- Switzerland: rotauge
- Turkey: kizilgöz baligi
- UK/England and Wales: rhufell
- Ukraine: baboshka; bochycja; plitka; plotycja; pot’ka
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The main ecological problems associated with Rutilus rutilus invasion are trophic competition, hybridization and alteration of the nutrient cycle. Its spread is favoured by hydrological alterations such as weirs and dams that create large extensions of limnophilous habitat otherwise scarce in some river typologies. R. rutilus is an omnivorous species that is able to adapt its diet to whatever is available, and it has high fecundity (Volta and Jepsen, 2008). It spawns earlier than other native species, so that roach larvae are able to use the seasonal lake production earlier than competitors (Volta and Jepsen, 2008). There is also evidence that roach compete for the same benthic food as tufted duck in Ireland (Winfield et al., 1992).
R. rutilus is naturally absent from the Iberian Peninsula, the Adriatic basin and Italy. It is considered invasive in northeastern Italy (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007) and Ireland (Stokes et al, 2006). In Spain it is distributed locally, in two neighbouring basins (Elvira, 1995). The roach is included in the Global Invasive Species Database.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Actinopterygii
- Order: Cypriniformes
- Family: Cyprinidae
- Genus: Rutilus
- Species: Rutilus rutilus
DescriptionTop of page
Roach is a benthopelagic potadromous fish. The maximum length reported is 50.0 cm SL male/unsexed (Freyhof and Kottelat, 2007), but the average size is 25.0 cm TL male/unsexed (Muus and Dahlstrøm, 1968). Scales on lateral line: 39-48. Scale rows above lateral line: 7-10; scale rows below lateral line: 3-5. Total gill rakers: 9-14; total vertebrae: 37-43. One dorsal fin (no finlets; 3-3 total spines; 8-12 total soft-rays); absent adipose fin; forked caudal fin; 1 anal fin (3-3 total spines; 8-13 total soft-rays); pectoral fins with 1 spine and (13) 14-18 soft-rays; pelvic fins in abdominal position (beneath origin of D1) with 2 spines and 7-8 soft rays (Berg, 1949; Zhukov, 1965; Movchan and Smirnov, 1981; Keith and Allardi, 2001).
Its swimming type consists of movements of body and/or caudal fin and is classified as subcarangiform according to swimming mode (Palomares, 1991).
Fish eggs are fixed on plants or stones. Colour of eggs: yellow, orange, amber (Pinder, 2001). Egg diameter is about 1–1.5 mm (Zhukov, 1965). In Lake Gardno the average egg diameter was 1.295 mm and in Lake Lebsko 1.374 mm (Hornatkiewicz-Zbik, 2003). Immediately after hatching, the larvae, by means of their adhesive glands, adhere to vegetation and remain fairly immobile because the fins are still not well developed (Billard, 1997). Yolk is absorbed at 6.5-7.0 mm. Pigmentation: Pigment present on the dorsal and lateral lines. Yolk-sac larvae development is placed in close association with substrate. It has not got oil globules, and melanophores are placed on the trunk (Pinder, 2001).
DistributionTop of page
There are some discrepancies in reports on the native range of the species between publication sources. In Ireland and Kazakhstan, following the assessment of Freyhof and Kottelat (2007), the roach is considered to be native by the IUCN, although in other references included in the Distribution Table it is cited as exotic.
In Great Britain, the species is naturally absent north of 56ºN. In Scandinavia it is naturally absent north of 69ºN (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).
It is present in the following regions: Europe north of Pyrenees and Alps, eastward to Ural and Eya drainages (Caspian basin). Aegean basin, in Pinios, Vardar, Vegoritis, Kastoria, Struma and Maritza drainages. Asia: Marmara basin and lower Sakarya in Anatolia, Aral basin and Siberia from Ob eastward to Lena drainages (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Atlantic, Northeast||Present||Native||Froese and Pauly, 2004|
|Afghanistan||Present||Native||Coad, 1981; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Occurs in Amu Darya up to Pitnak and Khanabad.|
|Armenia||Present||Native||Gabrielyan, 2001; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Found in Sevdgur river basin|
|Azerbaijan||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|China||Present||Native||Walker Yang, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Occurs in Erqishi, Ulungur, Tarim and Yili rivers. Liu et al, 1989 reports that it has been introduced to other provinces of China, though it is not specified which.|
|-Xinjiang||Present||Native||Walker Yang, 1999|
|Georgia (Republic of)||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Iran||Present||Native||Coad, 1995; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Caspian Sea basin. Freshwater and brackish waters.|
|Kazakhstan||Present||Native||Mitrofanov and Petr, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Kyrgyzstan||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Mongolia||Present||Native||Dulmaa, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat, 2006; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Status needs further confirmation as this species might be native to Europe only.|
|Tajikistan||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Turkey||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Bogutskaya, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Uzbekistan||Present||Native||Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Madagascar||Absent, formerly present||Introduced||1925||Not invasive||Welcomme, 1988||Introduced from France for fisheries in 1925.|
|Morocco||Present||Introduced||1934||Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004|
|Albania||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007; Dhora, 2010|
|Andorra||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Austria||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Belarus||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Belgium||Present||Native||Miller and Loates, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Bosnia-Hercegovina||Present||Native||Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Bulgaria||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Croatia||Present||Native||Gerstmeier and Romig, 1998; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Cyprus||Present||Introduced||1972||Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Introduced in 1972 from UK for angling, although not very popular.|
|Czech Republic||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Hanel, 2003; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Occurs in Morava river basin. Status of threat: Least concern.|
|Denmark||Widespread||Native||Muus and Dahlström, 1990; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Occurs throughout the country, also in the Baltic. Freshwater and brackish waters. Used in bait and gamefish.|
|Estonia||Present||Native||Anon, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Finland||Widespread||Native||Koli, 1990; Winkler et al., 2000; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Occurs through the country except northern Lapland. Freshwater and brackish waters. Important for subsistence fisheries and used in bait and gamefish.|
|France||Widespread||Native||Allardi and Keith, 1991; Keith and Allardi, 2001; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Widely distributed in metropolitan France. Can be considered as ubiquitous in France. Introduced in some regions of France|
|Germany||Present||Native||Winkler et al., 2000; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Greece||Present||Native||Economidis, 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Hungary||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Ireland||Widespread||Introduced||1889||Invasive||Went, 1957; Fitzmaurice, 1981; Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||It was introduced in 1889 from the UK as an accidental release following use as a bait fish. It has spread widely throughout Ireland since the 1960s, regarded as a nuisance.|
|Italy||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Gandolfi et al., 1991; Bianco and Ketmaier, 2001; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Introduced and invasive in NE Italy|
|Latvia||Present||Native||Winkler et al., 2000; Plikss, 2002; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Liechtenstein||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Lithuania||Present||Native||Winkler et al., 2000; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Luxembourg||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Macedonia||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Moldova||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Montenegro||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Netherlands||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Nijssen and Groot, 1974; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Norway||Present||Native||Appleby, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Poland||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Winkler et al., 2000; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Portugal||Present||Introduced||Azevedo et al., 2004|
|-Azores||Present||Introduced||Azevedo et al., 2004||Recorded from the São Miguel Lake. Utilized in sport fishing|
|Romania||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Russian Federation||Present||Native||Winkler et al., 2000; Bogutskaya and Naseka, 2002; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Translocated to areas within the country for stocking in open waters, dispersed and now has locally established self-sustaining populations. Also Robins et al (1991) and Bogutskaya (2005) unpublished data.|
|Serbia||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||In Serbia and Kosovo.|
|Slovakia||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Slovenia||Present||Native||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Spain||Present||Introduced||Not invasive||Elvira, 1995; FAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Sweden||Present||Native||Blanc et al., 1971; Kullander, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Switzerland||Present||Native||Hartmann, 1827; Blanc et al., 1971; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|UK||Present||Native||Treasurer, 1990; Maitland and Campbell, 1992; Wheeler, 1992; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007||Also found in Northern Ireland.|
|Ukraine||Present||Native||Movchan and Smirnov, 1981; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||1860||Welcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004||Introduced in the 1900s from the UK as a forage fish. Isolated populations persist in Victoria and its range is extending possibly because of its use as a bait fish.|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Hoese et al., 2006; Rowe et al., 2008||Reported from the Murray-Darling basin.|
|-South Australia||Present||Introduced||Hoese et al., 2006||Known from the Murray-Darling basin.|
|-Tasmania||Present||Introduced||Hoese et al., 2006|
|-Victoria||Present||Introduced||Cadwallader and Backhouse, 1983; Allen et al., 2002; Hoese et al., 2006||Only in rivers close to Melbourne.|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Roach were introduced into Ireland, along with dace, in 1889, when specimens brought from England as bait for pike accidentally escaped into the Co. Cork Blackwater (Went, 1950). By 1940 the entire River Blackwater system was colonised by both roach and dace. In 1905, the Baronscourt lakes on the Foyle system were stocked with roach, to provide food for pike (Hale 1958). These fish are thought to have been transferred from the original introduction site in the Cork Blackwater.
The roach subsequently disappeared from the Baronscourt lakes, but some must have moved downstream to the River Strule, giving rise to populations in the Rivers Strule and Fairywater. The Cork Blackwater and Foyle system Strule/Fairywater populations remained isolated for some time, until in 1931 roach were deliberately transferred into Galbally Lake, on the Erne system. In 1960 dredging of the outflow of this lake allowed fish to escape to the River Erne.
The first roach in the Erne river system were noted in coarse fishing competitions in 1963, and by 1966 roach were a common feature of anglers’ catches (Mercer, 1968; Kennedy and Fitzmaurice, 1973). By 1973 they had colonised the entire upper Erne system, and rapidly became the dominant fish by biomass in the whole system (Cragg- Hine, 1973; Rosell, 1994). From the Upper Erne system roach passed, possibly via the (then semi-derelict) Ballyconnell canal to the Shannon system, then spreading throughout the 1970s to a wide range of sites, assisted by transport as anglers live bait for pike. By the early 1980s they were widespread throughout Ireland, including the Foyle, Shannon, L. Neagh/River Bann, Boyne, Shannon, Corrib and Lee systems (Fitzmaurice, 1981).
During the late 1980s and 1990s spread continued and by 2000 the roach had reached every major river catchment in Ireland, probably being absent only from a few montane or small coastal systems without recreational pike fisheries. The latest new site is Lough Melvin, Co Leitrim, where Roach/rudd hybrids were noted in 2002 (Delanty and O’Grady, 2002)
In north and central Italy, roach was introduced for game fishing (Gandolfi et al, 1991). It has recently been introduced in Tuscany (in the 1990s) and in the Padano-Veneto area; but is probably not established (Amori et al, 1993).
In France, roach has a minor commercial importance (FAO, 1992), and is used in aquaculture (FAO, 1997; Garibaldi, 1996). It is the most popular fish caught in freshwater by anglers and is the centre of attraction during angling competitions. Roach are caught with animal bait during cold seasons, and with plant bait in summer. The flesh is bony but is highly esteemed. Commonly grown in ponds for restocking (Billard, 1997). Introduced in Brittany and in the south-west of France.
In Germany, it was common in the Neckar in 1850 (Günther, 1853) and is found in the Elbe estuary (Thiel et al, 2003). Muus and Dahlström (1968) also report its distribution in Germany. Found in freshwater and brackish waters.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Australia||UK||1860-1880||Forage (pathway cause)||Yes||Welcomme (1988)|
|Azores||Unknown||Yes||Elvira and Almodóvar (2001)||Probably some socioeconomic beneficial effects|
|Cyprus||UK||1972||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Yes||Welcomme (1988)||Species is not popular with anglers|
|Ireland||England and Wales||1889||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Yes||Griffiths (1997); Welcomme (1988)||Introduced into the River Blackwater, Co. by an angler using it as live bait, has subsequently spread throughout the country and has become common wherever it occurs. Accidentally released from aquaria and since the 1960s has spread widely throughout Irel|
|Italy||1989||Yes||Delmastro and Balma (1991)|
|Kazakhstan||1965||Forage (pathway cause)||Yes||Different sized fish (120,000) were introduced into Lake Balkhash from Lake Biilikol and in 1970 reported 1st commercial fishing of the species.|
|Madagascar||France||1925||Fisheries (pathway cause)||No||Welcomme (1988)||Disappeared|
|Morocco||France||1934||Yes||Welcomme (1988)||Species stocked into Lakes Isfrah and Iffer may have hybridized with S. erythrophthalmus.|
|Spain||1910-1913||Stocking (pathway cause)||Unknown||Elvira and Almodóvar (2001)||Probably established|
|UK||1990-2000||Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause)||Yes||Bartley (2006)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
This species has historically been introduced into new countries for sport fishing/angling and in some countries roach is highly appreciated and considered one of the most popular fishing species. Once introduced, deliberate translocations between basins in the same country have sometimes been reported.
HabitatTop of page
The roach lives in a wide variety of habitats, mainly in lowland areas. Most abundant in nutrient rich lakes and large to medium sized rivers and backwaters. Its spread is favored by hydrological alterations such as weirs and dams that create large extensions of limnophilous habitat otherwise scarce in some river typologies. In fast-flowing rivers, it is restricted to stretches with low current velocity. Larvae and juveniles inhabit a wide variety of littoral habitats (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).
Habitat ListTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Chromosome number: in most studies the roach has 25 haploid/gametic (n) chromosomes and 50 – 50 diploid/zygotic (2n) chromosomes. In other records: 50 haploid and 80-80 diploid; 51-51 diploid; 26 haploid and 52-52 diploid (Klinkhardt et al, 1995; Arkhipchuk, 1999).
There are about 62 different natural hybrids between species of European Cyprinidae. In particular, the fertile hybrid Abramis brama x Rutilus rutilus is recorded from almost every water body in which the parental species occur. Male A. brama x R. rutilus hybrids are known to produce three types of spermatozoids: haploid gametes of R. rutilus, haploid gametes of A. brama and diploid gametes with the unreduced chromosome complement of the hybrid. This results in F2 progeny comprising only of diploid and triploid F1 hybrids and pure parental species (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).
R. rutilus is a dioecious species and fertilizes externally. Reproductive guild: non-guarders, open water/substratum egg scatterers. It spawns in shoals among dense submerged vegetation in backwaters or lakes, flooded meadows or in shallow, fast-flowing river habitats on plant or gravel bottom (Holcík et al, 1989). Males reproduce for the first time at 2-3 years, females 1 year later, usually at about 100 mm SL. Undertakes short spawning migrations, sometimes starting as early as September, usually with a peak at temperatures above 9ºC in spring. Spawns in April-May, when temperature rises above 12ºC. Usually, a whole population spawns within a period of 5-10 days. The roach fecundity range is 700–77000 eggs (Zhukov, 1965).
Eggs are sticky and hatch in about 12 days (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007). Pale yellow eggs are attached to vegetation and tree roots (Pinder, 2001). In the United Kingdom the presence of larvae is recorded from May until July (Pinder, 2001).
Physiology and Phenology
Facultative schooling fish (Schiemer and Wieser, 1992). Large fish are solitary or congregate in small groups of up to 8 fish (Haberlehner, 1988). Specimens ranging from 1.1 - 3.59 cm start exogenous feeding on pollen grains and vegetal cells (Reyes-Marchant et al, 1992). Populations predominantly feeding on detritus are often stunted. Stunted populations may also be associated with strong year classes (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).
When growing, there is an energetic need to switch from zooplankton to benthic food (chironomids, molluscs). Individuals able to feed on Dreissena mussels increase their growth rate but do not exploit this food source until they have reached about 120 mm SL, at which size they are able to crush the mussels. In some areas (Volga reservoirs), pelagic and benthic roach can be distinguished by life-history traits (spawning time, spawning sites) (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).
Roach may shift from littoral to pelagic habitats and between benthic food and zooplankton when abundance of a specific food item is high, or in order to avoid predation and/or competition. The decision whether to stay in open water or among littoral vegetation is often described as a trade-off between food uptake and predator avoidance. It overwinters in backwaters or in deep parts of lakes (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).
Roach feed mainly on benthic invertebrates, zooplankton, plant material and detritus. The species is considered one of the most efficient molluscivores among European cyprinids (Winfield and Winfield, 1992). See also the following table:
Natural Food Sources
Contribution to total food intake (%)
0.3 – 3.5
0.7 – 31.8
0.1 – 8.1
5.2 – 62.1
1.7 – 30
1.5 – 9.2
0.8 – 4.8
0.9 – 73
21.3 – 49.3
24.3 – 49.3
1 – 14.8
1.1 – 41.8
2.3 – 41.8
Non-annelid worms (Tubificidae)
1.3 - 8
0.4 – 1.3
Cnidarians (other polyps)
0.7 – 3.5
Planktonic copepods (adult)
0.9 – 2.1
7 – 69.4
Planktonic copepods (larvae)
Planktonic invertebrates (rotifera)
1.4 – 11.6
5.8 – 48
Planktonic invertebrates (other)
Planktonic crustaceans (other)
8.5 – 36.3
Benthonic crustaceans (other)
1.4 – 31.3
Benthonic crustaceans (amphipodes)
43.7 – 80.7
2 – 5.5
5 – 75.7
0.5 – 0.6
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate)||178||267||Optimum|
|Water pH (pH)||7.0||7.5||Optimum|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Aeromonas salmonicida||Pathogen||not specific|
|Channa argus warpachowskii||Predator||Adult/Juvenile|
|Ligula intestinalis||Parasite||not specific|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Roach predators are mainly other bony fish species belonging to the families Anguillidae (Kangur et al, 1999), Clupeidae (Economidis and Sinis, 1991), Channidae (Guseva, 1990), Cyprinidae and Esocidae (Maitland and Campbell, 1992), Lotidae (Pulliainen and Korhonen, 1990), Percidae and Siluridae (Stolyarov, 1985) and Salmonidae (Vehanen et al, 1998), which prey on all developmental stages. The reported predators’ stages are juveniles and adults, except for Alosa macedonica and Squalius cephalus, species where only adults prey on roach.
Some non-specific parasitic infestations have been reported as attacking roach. Mokhayer (2000) described worm cataracts (also called diplostomatosis or metacercariosis) caused by Diplostomum spathaceum (Trematoda), which causes haemorrhages and eyes covered with small white dots. The black spot disease (also called diplostomiasis) affects roaches too, recognizable by trapezoid black blotches 0.85 to 3.8 mm in length on skin, fins, gills and muscles (Ondrackova et al, 2002). The tapeworm Ligula intestinalis (Cestoda: Pseudophyllidea) is known to be a parasite as well (Kennedy et al, 2001). The pathogenic bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida causes furunculosis in a few fish species (Wiklund and Dalsgaard, 1998).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
The main reason for introduction of roach in most countries has been for angling (sport fishing) and the transport has been reported to be international (see History of Introductions table). It has also been used as forage for other fish and used as a live bait. After a probable accidental release it may spread afterwards throughout the adjacent waterways. However the main reason for expanding its distribution once introduced is deliberate releases and further translocations in other basins in the country.
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Acclimatization societies||Deliberate. Introduced to make wildlife more familiar to European colonizers in Australia.||Yes||Arthington and McKenzie, 1997|
|Hunting, angling, sport or racing||Deliberate or accidentally||Yes||Delmastro and Balma, 1991; Griffiths, 1997; Welcomme, 1988|
|Interconnected waterways||Accidental, probably in water diverted during a flood event, or dredging the outflow of lakes.||Yes||Stokes et al., 2006; Volta and Jepsen, 2008|
|Self-propelled||Yes||Stokes et al., 2006|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
In England and Wales, roach is one of the preferred target species amongst coarse (non-salmonid) anglers (39% in 1969/70, 28% in 1994) (Hickley and Tompkins, 1998). In Poland, it also predominates along with carp (Cyprinus carpio) and bream (Abramis brama) (Wolos et al, 1998). In the Azores islands its introduction might also have caused some socio-economic benefits (Azevedo et al, 2004).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
Roach can have severe ecological consequences, particularly when lakes become enriched from mesotrophic to eutrophic conditions. Their ability to reach a large biomass and heavily graze zooplankton can exacerbate the algal blooms associated with nutrient enrichment in lakes. They can apparently accelerate the switch from clear water mesotrophy to a turbid water eutrophic state, effectively altering their environment to their own requirements. Biomanipulation experiments in Finland have shown significant water quality benefits following large-scale roach removal (Horppila, 1994). It is probable that the high biomass reached by roach in Irish lakes has contributed to the effects of eutrophication (Rosell and Gibson, 2000).
Impact on Biodiversity
Roach frequently produces hybrids with other Cyprinidae such as rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) and bream (Abramis brama) in Ireland to the detriment of both species (Fitzmaurice, 1981). It may also compete with other species such as native fauna occupying the same ecological niche, causing a deleterious effect on them.
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Abramis brama (carp bream)||LC (IUCN red list: Least concern) LC (IUCN red list: Least concern)||Hybridization||Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007|
|Aythya fuligula||LC (IUCN red list: Least concern) LC (IUCN red list: Least concern)||Ireland||Competition - monopolizing resources||Winfield et al., 1992|
|Rutilus pigus (Danube roach)||LC (IUCN red list: Least concern) LC (IUCN red list: Least concern)||Hybridization||Volta and Jepsen, 2008|
|Scardinius erythrophthalmus (rudd)||No Details||Ireland||Hybridization||Griffiths, 1997|
Social ImpactTop of page
Fishing as tourism is a particularly important component of the recreational fisheries economy in some countries. It can be a specific species, rather than fishing in a particular region or country, that provides anglers with the motivation for fishing away from home. Freshwater angling tourists visit Ireland seeking high quality roach (Hickley and Tompkins, 1998).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Highly mobile locally
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Long lived
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Altered trophic level
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of natural benthic communities
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
- Difficult/costly to control
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Sport fish
DiagnosisTop of page
The combination of morphological and genetic traits may be necessary to ensure proper identification (particularly in juvenile specimens) and this procedure may also enable detection of hybridization.
Detection and InspectionTop of page
The existence of stowaway species mixed with valuable species in ornamental or any other live fish stocks is not uncommon. The live fish trade therefore requires careful inspection by specialists in order to detect undesirable organisms which are often not labeled. In addition, the regular monitoring of current waters allows managers to detect new fish introductions and to know the spread patterns of exotic species once introduced. This information helps resource managers to identify areas at high risk of invasion and to plan local eradication programs when possible. Electrofishing is a widely recognized method to catch fish without damaging the ecosystem in current waters. Nets are a complementary sampling tool for surveys performed in lakes or reservoirs.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
R. rutilus is the only species of its genus in the Atlantic basin north of the Pyrenees. It can be distinguished from its congeners in Black and Caspian Sea basins and Apennine Peninsula by the combination of the following characters: 39-48 scales along lateral line; dorsal and anal fins with 10½ branched rays; body laterally compressed, depth 25-35% SL; mouth terminal; snout pointed; iris from yellow in juveniles to deep red in adults; pectoral, pelvic and anal fins orange to red; and no midlateral stripe. It differs from its congeners in the Balkan Peninsula by uniquely possessing 10½ branched anal rays (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007). Caudal fin with 18-19 rays (Spillman, 1961).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Complete eradication is almost impossible when an exotic species is introduced and established. Therefore, prevention is the best management option to avoid future invasions. The careful examination of live fish stocks may avoid the introduction of this and other undesirable species. These inspections are not performed nowadays by properly trained people.
Biological invasions are also a social problem, and it is therefore necessary to carry out educational programmes to inform people about the threats of the introduced species to ecosystems. In addition, the exploitation of exotic resources may be forbidden because it enhances the introduction of further exotic species and the maintenance of existing populations of introduced species. Local extirpation of introduced fish species may be performed in areas of high conservation value areas and, in particular, in small streams where the probability of success increases.
Regular monitoring of current waters can be used to detect new invaders and newly invaded areas. Education programmes can be used to raise public awareness about the threats of introduced species to ecosystems.
Complete eradication is almost impossible, particularly in large areas. Nevertheless, regular removal of specimens in small streams may mitigate the effect of exotic species, and it may sometimes also be possible to eradicate introduced species in these areas.
Physical barriers and rotenone are commonly used to control small fish.
Monitoring and Surveillance
Regular electrofishing surveys.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Further studies on the ecological processes derived from the introduction of R. rutilus in the aquatic ecosystem are required.
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
25/01/12 Original text by:
Oriol Cano Rocabayera, Department of Animal Biology & Research Institute of Biodiversity (IrBio), Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Avda Diagonal, 643. E-08028 Barcelona, Spain
Alberto Maceda Veiga, Department of Animal Biology & Research Institute of Biodiversity (IrBio), Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Avda Diagonal, 643. E-08028 Barcelona, Spain
The names of reviewers are available from CABI on request.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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