Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Aspius aspius



Aspius aspius (asp)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Aspius aspius
  • Preferred Common Name
  • asp
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. aspius is classified on the IUCN Red List as a species of ‘Least concern’, though locally threatened by river engineering projects. Even though this species has been introduced into many regions within Europe for fisheries, it has stru...

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Adult Aspius aspius from the Morava River, Slovakia.
CaptionAdult Aspius aspius from the Morava River, Slovakia.
CopyrightDaniel Grula/Comenius University, Slovakia
Adult Aspius aspius from the Morava River, Slovakia.
AdultAdult Aspius aspius from the Morava River, Slovakia.Daniel Grula/Comenius University, Slovakia


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Aspius aspius (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • asp

Other Scientific Names

  • Alburnus iblioides Kessler, 1872
  • Aspius aspius aspius (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Aspius aspius iblioides (Kessler, 1872)
  • Aspius aspius taeniatus (Eichwald, 1831)
  • Aspius aspius taeniatus iblioides phragmiteti Berg, 1932
  • Aspius erytrostomus Kessler, 1877
  • Aspius linnei Malm, 1877
  • Aspius rapax Agassiz, 1835
  • Aspius rapax jaxartensis Kessler, 1874
  • Aspius transcaucasius Warpachovski, 1896
  • Aspius vulgaris Leiblein, 1853
  • Cyprinus aspius Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cyprinus rapax Leske, 1774
  • Cyprinus rapax Pallas, 1914
  • Cyprinus taeniatus Eichwald, 1831
  • Leuciscus aspius Linnaeus, 1758

International Common Names

  • Spanish: aspio
  • French: aspe
  • Russian: zerekh; zherekh; zherekh obyknovennyi

Local Common Names

  • Austria: schied
  • Bulgaria: rasper; razper
  • Czech Republic: bolen; bolen dravý; bolen obecný
  • Denmark: asp
  • Estonia: tõugjas
  • Finland: toutain
  • Germany: Dickkopf; Diebel; Hartkopf; Kaspischer Rapfen; Lachsfisch; Mulbe; Mülbe; Mülpe; Raape; Raapf; Rapen; Rapfen; Rapis; Rappe; Ritter; Rombalet; Rotschiedel; Salat; Schied; Schiegg; Schiek; Schier; Schirm; Schutt; Weißfisch; Zalat
  • Greece: asprogrivado
  • Hungary: balin
  • Iran: khasham; mash mahi; mashmahi
  • Latvia: salate
  • Lithuania: salatis
  • Netherlands: roofblei; roofblei
  • Norway: asp
  • Poland: bolen
  • Portugal: áspio
  • Romania: aun; avat; butoi; gonaci; guran; haut; peste-lup
  • Serbia: bolen; bucov
  • Slovakia: bolen obycajný; bolen obycajný
  • Slovenia: bolen
  • Sweden: asp
  • Turkey: kocaagiz baligi
  • Ukraine: bilyzna
  • USA: rapfen; schied

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. aspius is classified on the IUCN Red List as a species of ‘Least concern’, though locally threatened by river engineering projects. Even though this species has been introduced into many regions within Europe for fisheries, it has struggled to establish in most areas (Marmcarz et al., 2008). Therefore, there is currently very limited information about the history of this species being introduced and the only report of the species being invasive, is that of Freyhof (2002) for the Rhine drainage basin. Although it is classified as ‘non-invasive’ on Fishbase (, a risk screening of A. aspius using the Fish Invasiveness Scoring Kit (FISK; Copp et al., 2009) ranked the species to be of moderately high invasiveness risk (i.e. a mean FISK score of 28.6, whereby the high risk category ranges from 19 to 54). Where it has been introduced, such as in the River Murgab (Turkmenistan), Aspius aspius failed to establish successfully (Burmakin, 1963). Although not considered to be invasive, this species showed that after introduction to Lake Balkhash, almost 100% of the A. aspius diet changed to Mysidae (Malinovskaya et al., 1977).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Cypriniformes
  •                         Family: Cyprinidae
  •                             Genus: Aspius
  •                                 Species: Aspius aspius

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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A recent study of phylogenetic relationships within the Leuciscinae (Perea et al., 2010) suggests that the species A. aspius may need to be included within the Genus Leuciscus, though this change has yet to be accepted more widely (e.g.


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A. aspius has a body that is long and laterally compressed, with a long pointed snout, with a silvery colour over most of its body, with the back blackish-olive or greenish-grey. The iris is silvery, with a narrow golden circle around the pupil and a little grey pigment on the upper half. Its lips are silvery with a little grey over the upper one; however, both lips and iris are often bright red. The dorsal and caudal fins are grey and the other fins are transparent without pigment (Keith and Allardi, 2001), and the peritoneum is usually silvery to brown (Coad, 2011). The dorsal fin has 7–10 branched rays, usually 8, followed by 2–3, usually 3, unbranched rays. The anal fin has 11–15 branched rays, usually 12, followed by 3–4, usually 3, unbranched rays. The pectoral fin has 14–17 branched rays and the pelvic has 7–9 fin rays. The scales have a central focus, fine circuli and few posterior and anterior radii, with lateral line scales numbering between 64 and 76. There is also a pelvic axillary scale and a scaled keel behind the pelvic fins. The lower jaw tip projects and fits into a notch in the upper jaw. Gill rakers usually number between 9–14, and are very short and club-shaped, almost reaching half way to the raker below when appressed. Gill membranes are narrowly attached to the isthmus, almost under the posterior eye margin. The species has pharyngeal teeth usually 3,5–5,3, sometimes 2,5–5,3 or with 6 teeth in the main row. The pharyngeal teeth are elongate, compressed and obviously hooked (Coad, 2011).

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.

Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes






BelgiumPresent, LocalizedIntroduced1984
Bosnia and HerzegovinaPresentNative
North MacedoniaPresentNative
United KingdomPresentIntroduced1846

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. aspius is found from the Rhine and north of the Alps in Europe to the drainages of the Black, Caspian and Aral seas including their southern shores. The main introductions of this species are due to both aquaculture and fisheries. Since the 1980s, it has been introduced in Belgium (Verreycken et al., 2007), in the Netherlands in 1984 (de Groot, 1985), and in France in 1991 (Schweyer et al., 1991; Keith and Allardi, 2001). In Germany, A. aspius was originally introduced to the Rhine, where its range has expanded, and it has sporadically been reported from the Dutch part of the River Meuse since 1984 (Crombaghs et al., 2000). First reported in the Flemish Meuse in 2002, A. aspius is occasionally captured from the river by recreational anglers (Gaethofs, 2004), with specimens as small as 100–150 mm reported, which suggests the species is now reproducing (Verreycken et al., 2007). Between 1957 and 1958, nine specimens from the Caspian Sea were accidentally introduced to Lake Balkhash (Karpevich, 1975; Davydova, 1984). In 1964, in the western part of this lake, asp fry were observed (Pivnev et al., 1972). In 1969, the first spawning migration to the river Ili was observed (Mitrofanov et al., 1987). Between 1971 and 1986, 49,000 asp specimens were introduced in the Kapchagay Reservoir on the River Ili (Isaev and Karpova, 1989). There were attempts to stock asp in China (Walker and Yang, 1999) , Italy (Bernini et al., 2005), and Belgium (Verreycken et al., 2007).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Belgium Eastern Europe 1984 Yes Froese and Pauly (2011); Verreycken et al. (2007)
China   Yes Froese and Pauly (2011) Probably established
Cyprus Czechoslovakia (former) 1990 Yes Froese and Pauly (2011) Probably established
France 1990-97 Yes Froese and Pauly (2011)
Italy   Yes Froese and Pauly (2011)
Kazakhstan 1957-58 Froese and Pauly (2011)
Netherlands Germany 1984 Yes Crombaghs et al. (2000)
Sweden 1899 Filipsson (1994)
Switzerland Germany 1994 Yes Froese and Pauly (2011)


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A. aspius is a riverine species that inhabits main channels, side channels and backwaters (Hajdú and Kovác, 2002; Valová et al., 2006; Telcean and Cupsa, 2009). It spends the winter in deep holes, emerging in spring when rivers flood and moving to the spawning grounds. These grounds include river channels, open lake areas with substantial flow and only rarely places weakly overgrown with very coarse submerged vegetation such as reeds and rushes (Shikhshabekov, 1979).

Habitat List

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BrackishInland saline areas Present, no further details Natural
FreshwaterIrrigation channels Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
FreshwaterLakes Principal habitat Natural
FreshwaterReservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
FreshwaterRivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
FreshwaterPonds Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
BrackishEstuaries Principal habitat Natural
BrackishLagoons Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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The chromosome number is 2n=50-52. The DNA analysis of this species is reported by Perea et al. (2010).

Reproductive Biology

Asp migrate upstream for spawning (Ciolac, 2004), which occurs from April to June, with about twice as many fish during mornings compared with afternoons (Kotusz et al., 2006). Spawning takes place in fast-flowing water on sandy or pebble substrate (Maitland, 1977; Križek and Vostradovsky, 2002; Fredrich, 2003; Kompowski and Neja, 2004), with Hladík and Kubecka (2004) stating that A. aspius is an obligatory tributary spawner. The eggs adhere to gravel or submerged vegetation. Optimal spawning temperature is between 8 and 10°C (Križek and Vostradovsky, 2002), though Muus (1971) reports this to be 4.5–14.5°C, with optimal hatching temperature reported to be 12.8°C (Kujawa et al., 1997). Incubation lasts for 10–15 days, with the female usually laying 58,000–500,000 eggs which are ≈1.6 mm in diameter (Berg et al., 1949; Maitland, 1977). After the eggs hatch, the larvae are 4.9–5.9 mm long (Berg et al., 1949). See also Kujawa and Kucharczyk (1994); Kucharczyk et al. (1998); Kujawa et al. (1997, 1998, 2001). Sexual maturity is reached after 4-5 years.

Physiology and Phenology

Bobák and Slechta (1988) examined the electrophoretic patterns of parvalbumins in 13 species of cyprinid fishes, including A. aspius, and the patterns are species-specific, with species within the same subfamilies usually having similar distribution of parvalbumin components II, III, IV and V. Molecular and morphological data suggest that Aspius might have to be included in the genus Leuciscus (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).


The asp is the only piscivorous species in the family Cyprinidae. In its early juvenile phase feeds on crustaceans, bottom fauna, terrestrial insects that have fallen into the water, and fish larvae (Maitland, 1977). The most important food item for adults is bleak Alburnus alburnus, followed by roach Rutilus rutilus, and goldfish Carassius auratus; older asp are also able to handle fish not easily caught by younger asp due to the presence of spines, such as perch Perca fluviatilis, ruffe Gymnocephalus cernuus, and monkey goby Neogobius fluviatilis, or of a deep body, such as ide Leuciscus idus (Krpo-Cetkovic et al., 2010). The asp also feeds on Osmerus eperlanus, Gasterosteus sp., Gobio gobio, Leuciscus cephalus, Chondrostoma nasus, and Leucaspius delineatus (Trzebiatowski & Leszczewicz, 1976). Further comments on the food items consumed by A. aspius can be found in Kottelat and Freyhof (2007). Their growth and survival under controlled conditions have been examined (Zarski et al., 2008), and studies of gut morphology (Junger et al., 1989) revealed that A. aspius has smooth surface folding in its intestinal bulb, which is only loosely related to feeding.


Molnár and Jalali (1992) record the monogenean Dactylogyrus tuba from this species in the Sefid-Rud (Iran). Masoumian et al. (2005) report the protozoan parasite Chilodonella sp. from this species in the Aras Dam in West Azerbaijan. Masoumian et al. (2002) investigated parasites from this fish in the Aras and Mahabad dams in northwest Iran and found the protozoan Myxobolus dispar. Sattari (2004) records the presence of the nematode, Eustrongylides excisus, in the body cavity. Sattari et al. (2002, 2004, 2005) and Sattari (2004) records the presence of the nematode, Eustrongylides excisus. Pazooki et al. (2007) recorded various parasites from localities in West Azerbaijan Province, including Argulus foliaceus from this species.

Environmental Requirements

Temperate; 4°C–20°C, 66°N–35°N, 3°E–72°E (Baensch and Riehl, 1991).


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C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
D - Continental/Microthermal climate Tolerated Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Tolerated Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Tolerated Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Esox lucius Predator All Stages not specific
Phoca caspica Predator All Stages not specific
Sander lucioperca Predator All Stages not specific
Silurus glanis Predator All Stages not specific

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Young of the year are washed downstream by water as drift (Reichard et al., 2001), adults are naturally dispersed through migration.

Intentional Introduction

Introduced for angling as well as through the aquaculture industry.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture Yes Yes
Fisheries Yes Yes
Flooding and other natural disasters Yes
Hunting, angling, sport or racing Yes Yes
Interconnected waterways Yes
Stocking Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture stock Yes Yes
Water Yes Yes

Economic Impact

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A. aspius is mainly used for sports fisheries, so there is an economic benefit for individual fishermen as well as the creation of jobs in the aquacutlure industry; this fish is also taken in Iran as food but comprises only a small portion of the catch.

Environmental Impact

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A. aspius was intentionally introduced for aquaculture and sport fisheries beginning in the late twentieth century. This species has a relatively short history of introductions, and there is little evidence of adverse impacts in the receiving waters, though numerous impacts on fish populations have been suggested (see Coad, 2011) for the regions where it has been introduced. Kottelat and Freyhof (2007) mention that the asp regularly hybridises with the ide Leuciscus idus.

Social Impact

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In addition to its value for individual fishermen, recreational fishing and tourism may create a demand not only for food, accommodation and transportation, but also for related recreational activities such as camping, boating, canoeing, etc; all of which may provide economic opportunities locally.

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • 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
Impact mechanisms
  • Hybridization
  • Predation
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses List

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  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Detection and Inspection

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This is the only species of Aspius in Europe, and is also one of the rare cyprinids which is a piscivore. For more information on identification see section on Description.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

No specific information available, but general principles are given in Britton et al. (2010). For chemical control rotenone is assumed to be effective and telemetry is expected to be useful for surveillance


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Baensch HA; Riehl R, 1991. Aquarian atlas. Bd. 3. Melle, Germany: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde, 1104 pp.

Berg LS; Bogdanov AS; Kozin NI; Rass TS, 1949. [Commercial fishes of the USSR]. Moskva, Russia: Piscepromizdat, 788 pp.

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Copp GH; Vilizzi L; Mumford J; Fenwick GV; Godard MJ; Gozlan RE, 2009. Calibration of FISK, an invasiveness screening tool for nonnative freshwater fishes. Risk Analysis, 29(3):457-467.

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Fredrich F, 2003. Long-term investigations of migratory behaviour of asp (Aspius aspius L.) in the middle part of the Elbe River, Germany. J. Appl. Ichthyol, 19:294-302.

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Isaev AI; Karpova EI, 1989. [English title not available]. (Rybnoe khozyaistvo vodokhranilishch.) Rybnoe khozyaistvo vodokhranilishch. Moskva, Russia: Izd. Agropromizdat.

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Krpo-Cetkovic J; Hegedis A; Lenhardt M, 2010. Diet and growth of asp, Aspius aspius (Linnaeus, 1758), in the Danube River near the confluence with the Sava River (Serbia). J. Appl. Ichthyol, 26:513-521.

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Pivnev IA; Dikanskiy VJ; Yazeva NS, 1972. [English title not available]. (O morfologii i biologii zherekha, akklimatizirovannogo v ozere Balkhash.) Rybnye resursy vodoemov Kazakhstana i ikh ispolzovanie, 7:3-7.

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Sattari M, 2004. The occurrence and intensity of Eustrongylides excisus (Nematoda: Dioctophymidae) in some bony fish species of Caspian Sea and its basin. Caspian Journal of Environmental Sciences, 2(1):9-12.

Sattari M; Khara H; Nezami S; Roohi JD; Shafii S, 2005. Occurrence and intensity of some nematodes in the bonyfish species of the Caspian Sea and its basin. Bulletin of the European Association of Fish Pathologists, 25(4):166-178.

Sattari M; Shafii S; Roohi JD; Biria HA; Bekhsat N, 2002. Occurance and intensity of Eustrongylides excisus (L) (Nematoda: Dioctophymidae) from some bony fish species in Caspian Sea and its basin, Iran. Journal of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tehran, 57(1):37-41.

Schweyer JB; Allardi J; Dorson M, 1991. [English title not available]. (Note ichtyologique : capture dans le Rhin de représentants des espèces Aspius aspius (Linné 1758) et Vimba vimba (Linné 1758).) Bull. fr. Pêche Piscic, 320:38-42.

Shikhshabekov MM, 1979. On the reproduction of Rutilus frisii kutum (Kamensky), Aspius aspius (L.), Vimba vimba persa (Pallas), and Scardinius erythrophthalmus (L.) in Dagestan water bodies. Vopr. Ikhthyol, 19:195-239.

Spillman CJ, 1961. [English title not available]. (Poissons d'eau douce). Paris, France: P. Lechavlier. Faune de France Vol. 65

Telcean IC; Cupsa D, 2009. The backwaters and drainage canals as natural refuges for the lowland rivers' fish fauna (Somes, Crisuri, and Mures Rivers - north-western Romania). Biharean Biologist, 3(1):37-44.

Valová Z; Jurajda P; Janác M, 2006. Spatial distribution of 0+ juvenile fish in differently modified lowland rivers. Folia Zoologica, 55:293-308.

Verreycken H; Anseeuw D; Thuyne Gvan; Quataert P; Belpaire C, 2007. The non-indigenous freshwater fishes of Flanders (Belgium): review, status and trends over the last decade. Journal of Fish Biology, 71(Suppl. D):160-172.

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Distribution References

CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Freyhof J, Kottelat M, 2008. Clupeonella cultriventris. In: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Froese R, Pauly D, 2004. FishBase.

Froese R, Pauly D, 2011. FishBase. In: FishBase,

Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435.

Verreycken H, Anseeuw D, Thuyne G van, Quataert P, Belpaire C, 2007. The non-indigenous freshwater fishes of Flanders (Belgium): review, status and trends over the last decade. Journal of Fish Biology. 71 (Suppl. D), 160-172. DOI:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2007.01679.x


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10/10/11 Original text by:

Gordon Copp, CEFAS, Salmon and Freshwater Team, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT, UK

Michael Godard, Consultant, UK

Reviewers' names are available on request.

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