Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Huso huso



Huso huso (beluga)


  • Last modified
  • 14 November 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Threatened Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Huso huso
  • Preferred Common Name
  • beluga
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii

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CopyrightMikhail S. Chebanov
AdultAdult.Mikhail S. Chebanov
Sturgeon broodstock/cage culture. Darker individual is a Giant Sturgeon.
TitleCage culture
CaptionSturgeon broodstock/cage culture. Darker individual is a Giant Sturgeon.
CopyrightMikhail S. Chebanov
Sturgeon broodstock/cage culture. Darker individual is a Giant Sturgeon.
Cage cultureSturgeon broodstock/cage culture. Darker individual is a Giant Sturgeon.Mikhail S. Chebanov
Ultrasound equipment for early and non-invasive determination of sex and maturity stages.
TitleUltrasound equipment
CaptionUltrasound equipment for early and non-invasive determination of sex and maturity stages.
CopyrightMikhail S. Chebanov
Ultrasound equipment for early and non-invasive determination of sex and maturity stages.
Ultrasound equipmentUltrasound equipment for early and non-invasive determination of sex and maturity stages.Mikhail S. Chebanov
CopyrightMikhail S. Chebanov
AdultAdult.Mikhail S. Chebanov


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Huso huso (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • beluga

Other Scientific Names

  • Acipenser albula Forster, 1767
  • Acipenser beluga Forster, 1767
  • Acipenser huso Linnaeus, 1758
  • Acipenser schypa Bonnaterre, 1788
  • Acipenser shyp Forster, 1767
  • Acipenser vallisnerii Molin, 1851
  • Huso huso caspicus Babushkin, 1942
  • Huso huso maeoticus Sal'nikov & Malyatskii, 1934
  • Huso huso orientalis Lelek, 1987
  • Huso huso ponticus Sal'nikov & Malyatskii, 1934
  • Huso ichthyocolla Bonaparte, 1846

International Common Names

  • English: caviar; caviare; european Sturgeon; giant (great) sturgeon; giant Sturgeon; great Sturgeon; isinglass; russian sturgeon
  • Spanish: beluga; cola de pescado; esturión; esturión beluga
  • French: beluga; grand esturgeon; ichtyocolle
  • Russian: beluga; kyrpy

Local Common Names

  • Albania: bli turishkurte; bli turishkurter
  • Austria: hausen
  • Azerbaijan: ag-kulag-nyarya; gyuzgi-burun
  • Bulgaria: moruna
  • Czech Republic: vyza; vyza velká
  • Denmark: hasblas
  • Finland: beluga; kaviaari; kitasampi; selvike uimarakosta
  • Germany: beluga; Beluga-Stör; Europäischer Hausen; hausen; Hausenblase; Husso; Kaviar; Stör
  • Greece: akipíssios; chaviári; mocuna; mourouna
  • Hungary: viza
  • Iceland: mjaldur; sundmaga hlaup
  • Iran: beluga; boluga; fil Mahi; mahi-e kaviar; phil mahi; phillmahi; sag mahi
  • Italy: caviale; colla di pesce; storione ladando; storione ladano; storione ladano (attilo)
  • Japan: gyoko; kyabia
  • Kazakhstan: kortpa
  • Netherlands: kaviaar; visgelatine
  • Norway: belugastør; husblas
  • Poland: bieluga; bieluga z. wyz; wiz
  • Portugal: cola de peixe; esturjâo beluga; esturjâo do cáspio; esturjão-beluga
  • Romania: morun
  • Slovakia: vyza
  • Slovenia: beluga
  • Sweden: beluga; belugastör; hus; husbloss; husblosstör; rysk kaviar
  • Turkey: beluga baligi; havyar; mersin morinasi; mersin morinasi baligi; mersinmorinasi; morina baligi
  • Turkmenistan: akvalyk; doku
  • Ukraine: beluga
  • USA: beluga
  • Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro): moruna


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Huso huso (beluga or giant sturgeon) is the largest actinopterygian species (length up to 5.6 m, weight up to 1.5 t). Wild H. huso are found mostly in the Caspian Sea, Black Sea and the Sea of Azov basins. Based on morphological features, H. huso has been classified into two subspecies, Huso huso ponticus and Huso huso maeoticus (Salnikov and Malyatskii, 1934). Those in the Caspian Sea were subdivided into three populations: the Kura, Ural and Volga great sturgeons. The local populations (forms) exhibit slightly different characteristics of maturation, growth, fecundity. Seasonal (vernal and hiemal) races (forms) of H. huso can also be differentiated (Pirogovskii et al., 1989). It is a long-lived (more than 100 years), anadromous and eurybathic fish. H. huso is one of the three major commercial sturgeons. This species is considered a most valuable fish. The roe harvested from female beluga sturgeon is processed for the most highly-prized caviar. Sturgeon aquaculture has more than 130 years of history and been developing rapidly since the early 1990s. H. huso and bester (a hybrid of female H. huso and male Acipenser ruthenus) aquaculture has subsequently expanded into some regions of the world.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Acipenseriformes
  •                         Family: Acipenseridae
  •                             Genus: Huso
  •                                 Species: Huso huso


Top of page Morphology

Huso huso is identified by its large, inferior crescent-shaped mouth (small and transverse in other sturgeon) and the gill membranes forming a fold across the isthmus. Snout is moderate and pointed, turning slightly upward. Lower lip is interrupted at centre. The caudal fin is heterocercal. Barbels are oval or flat, with leaf-like appendages, reaching almost to mouth. Five lines of scutes: one dorsal (11-14 scutes, first one smallest as distinct from the related species Huso dauricus), two lateral (41-52 scutes), two ventral (9-11 scutes). Scutes in older fish may be reabsorbed. The dorsal scutes are covered with skin in mature fish. The back is from dark grey and black to greenish, the ventral side is white. A very detailed description of beluga morphology on the basis of few dozen characteristics was given by Bemis et al. (1997).


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Huso huso is distributed in the Black Sea (the Danube, Rioni, Dniepr, Dniestr and Bug rivers), the Sea of Azov (the Don and Kuban rivers), the Caspian Sea (the Volga, Ural, Kura, Gorgan and Sefid Rud rivers) and rarely in the Adriatic Sea (the Po river). H. huso has been extirpated from Austria, Croatia, the Czech. Republic, Hungary, Serbia Montenegro, Slovakia and Slovenia (FishBase, 2004). The presence of H. huso in Greece is questionable (Economidis, 1991).

It has been introduced to Armenia, China, Poland and the USA.

Distribution Table

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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.

Invasive Species Threats

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Invasive SpeciesWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Mnemiopsis leidyi (sea walnut)Mediterranean and Black SeaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2004


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Arndt GM; Gessner J; Raymakers C, 2002. Trends in farming, trade and occurrence of native and exotic sturgeons in natural habitats in Central and Western Europe. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 18(4/6):444-448.

Bauer ON; Pugachev ON; Voronin VN, 2002. Study of parasites and diseases of sturgeons in Russia: a review. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 18(4/6):420-429.

Bayunova L; Barannikova I; Semenkova T, 2002. Sturgeon stress reactions in aquaculture. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 18(4/6):397-404.

Bemis WE; Findeis EK; Grande L, 1997. An overview of Acipenseriformes. Environemntal Biology of Fishes, 48:25-71.

Berg LS, 1948. O polozhenii Acepenseriformes v sisteme ryb. In: Trudy Zological Institute, 7:7-57.

Bronzi P; Rosenthal H; Arlati G; Williot P, 1999. A brief overview on the status and prospects of sturgeon farming in western and central Europe. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 15(4/5):224-227.

Burtsev IA, 1997. Bester in aquaculture. In: Birstein VJ, Bauer A, Kaiser-Pohlmann, eds. Sturgeon Stocks, Caviar Trade Workshop. Galnd, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN, 35-44.

Chebanov MS; Chmyr YuN, 2002. New method of sturgeon culture optimization. Rybovodstvo i Rybolovstvo, (Fish Farming and Fishing) 1:20-21.

Chebanov MS; Karnaukhov GI; Galich EV; Chmir YuN, 2002. Hatchery stock enhancement and conservation of sturgeon, with an emphasis on the Azov Sea populations. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 18(4/6):463-469.

Congiu L; Fontana F; Patarnello T; Rossi R; Zane L, 2002. The use of AFLP in sturgeon identification. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 18(4/6):286-289.

Dettlaff TA; Ginsburg AS; Schmalhausen OJ, 1993. Sturgeon fishes. Developmental Biology and Aquaculture. Springer Verlag.

Dettlaff TA; Goncharov BF, 2002. Contribution of developmental biology to artificial propagation of sturgeon in Russia. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 18(4/6):266-270.

Economidis PS, 1991. Check list of freshwater fishes of Greece (recent status of threats and protection). Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, Special publication, 48 pp.

FishBase, 2004. Entry for Huso huso. Main ref. Bauchot ML, 1987. Poissons osseux. In: Fischer W, Bauchot ML Schneider M, eds. Fiches FAO d’identification pour les besoins de la pêche. (rev. 1). Méditerranée et mer Noire. Zone de pêche 37. Vol. II. Commission des Communautés Européennes and FAO, Rome, 891-1421. Online at Accessed 6 January 2005.

Froese R; Pauly D, 2004. FishBase DVD. Penang, Malaysia: Worldfish Center. Online at

Goncharov BF, 2002. In vitro approach to studying the mechanisms of oocyte maturation in sturgeons: a review of fundamental and applied aspects. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 18(4/6):368-374.

Hochleithner M; Gessner J, 1999. The Sturgeon and Paddlefish (Acipenseriformes) of the World. Biology and Aquaculture. AquaTech Publications, 165 pp.

Logan SH; Jonston WE; Doroshov SI, 1995. Economics of joint production of sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus Richardson) and roe for caviar. Aquaculture, 130:299-316.

Pirogovsky MI; Sokolov LI; Vasiliev VP, 1989. Huso huso (Linnaeus, 1758). In: Holcik J, et al., eds. The Freshwater Fishes of Europe, General Introduction to Fishes, Acepenseriformes, AULA Verlag, Viesbaden, 156-200.

Salnikov NI; Malyatsky SM, 1934. On systematics of the Azov-Black Sea basin’s beluga. Reports of Fishery and Biology Reaserch Station, Georgia (USSR), 1(1):31-50.

Links to Websites

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Caspian Environment Programme
World Sturgeon Conservation Society


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Main Author
Mikhail Chebanov
Krasnodar Research Institute of Fisheries, aul Tugurgoj, Teuchezhsky rayon, Adlgej 353228, Russia

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