The first occurrence of Carassius gibelio (Bloch, 1782) and Carassius auratus auratus (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Orontes River Basin (Hatay, Turkey)

Gülnaz Özcan1


1 Marine Sciences and Technology Faculty, Mustafa Kemal University 31200, Iskenderun, Hatay, Turkey. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



The aim of the present paper is to report the first occurrence of Prussian carp Carassius gibelio (Bloch, 1782) and gold fish Carassius auratus auratus (Linnaeus, 1758), introduced into the Orontes River Basin (Hatay, Tukey). These species were captured in the Orontes River and its drainage basin between March and May 2011. These exotic fish species were probably introduced by accident. Their morphometric characteristics and ecological features are also presented. Further investigation will be focused on the monitoring of the population status and the conservation management plan of native species in the Orontes River Basin.

Keywords: Carassius gibelio, Carassius auratus auratus, freshwater, new locality, exotic species, Orontes River




The Orontes River is the longest river in the province of Hatay. It rises near the city of Baalbek, Lebanon, and flows in a northerly direct between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains into Syria. The Orontes River forms part of the border between Lebanon and Syria and between Syria and Turkey. It flows north to the city of Antakya and into the Mediterranean Sea just south of Samandağ. The Orontes River is 380 km in total length around 94 km of which is in Turkey (Göksu et al., 2005).

In total, 50 fish species were recorded in the Orontes River (Fricke et al., 2007; Yalçın-Özdilek, 2007). The Orontes River Basin (8-10 species) is the second richest in diversity of endemic freshwater fish species after the Po River Basin (11-17 species, Italy) in the Mediterranean (Smith and Darwall, 2006). A total of 26 alien fish species have been introduced in Turkey and 4 exotic fish species were recorded in the Orontes River (Innal and Erk'akan, 2006; Yalçın-Özdilek, 2007). The endemic species of the Orontes River have been affected by many threats, including human activities, water pollution and extraction, introduced species, drought and dam construction. The high level endemic ihtiofauna of the Orontes River is unprotected and defenceless against invasive and exotic species contribution. In addition, in the spring and summer months unconscious made soil sets for agriculture irrigation on the river and tributaries.

Carassius auratus auratus (Linnaeus, 1758) is a cyprinid fish which prefers eutrophic, well vegetated ponds and canals, and occurs frequently in artificial habitats. Reported to be native to East Asia, from the Amur to the Xi Jiang drainage areas in Russia, China, Korea and Japan and introduced throughout Europe and most of the world. Unambiguous data on distribution in Europe are not available because it is usually confused with Carassius gibelio (Bloch 1782) (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007).

Carassius gibelio (Bloch, 1782) inhabits a wide variety of still water bodies and lowland rivers and is very tolerant of low oxygen concentrations and pollution (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007). It is widespread in Europe, Asia and the Middle East (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007). Today it is widespread and commonly stocked together with Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus, 1758, which is transported throughout Europe (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007; Özcan, 2007; Innal, 2011; Tarkan et al., 2012; Jawad et al., 2012).

In Europe and Turkey, three species of the genus Carassius Nilsson 1832, are known; the gold fish, C. a. auratus, the crucian carp, Carassius carassius (Linnaeus, 1758) and the Prussian carp, C. gibelio (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007; Innal, 2011). While C. carassius is autochthonous to Turkey and Europe, the other two species of the genus Carassius were introduced to the inland waters of Turkey. The date and agent of first introduction of these species in Turkey are unknown (Geldiay and Balık, 2007; Innal, 2011).

The aim of the study is to report the first occurrence of C. a. auratus and C. gibelio in the Orontes River Basin (Hatay, Turkey) and to report on additional new localities for distribution of these species in Turkey.

 Materials and Methods

Eleven (C. gibelio) and two (C. a. auratus) individuals from two different sampling stations (station 1: Karasu stream; station 2: Güzelburç-Orontes River) were caught by electroshocker and gill nets from 26 March to 23 May 2011 (Figure 1). The samples were fixed in a 4% formalin and transferred to the laboratory for processing. The taxonomic key given by Kottelat and Freyhof (2007) was used to identify these species. Total, fork and standard lengths of these species were measured using a milimetric fish ruler. The specimens, including those photographed, are deposited in the Museum of Marine Sciences and Technology Faculty, Mustafa Kemal University, Iskenderun-Hatay [Collection numbers: MSM-FISH/2011-1 for C. a. auratus (Figure 2), MSM-FISH/2011-2 for C. gibelio (Figure 3)].


Figure 1:  Map of the study area


The following physico-chemical parameters were measured at the sampling sites water temperature (°C) (YSI 30/25 FT), pH (YSI 60), Salinity (ppt) (YSI 30/25 FT). Total length (in cm) of specimens was also measured.