The Barbel (Barbus barbus)


The Barbel (Barbus barbus)

The Barbel (Barbus barbus) Barbel have elongated bodies, almost round in cross section but flat bellied. Head pointed and scale less, eyes rather small, set high on the sides of the head, lips thick with two pairs of fleshy barbels. Dorsal fin high but short based, strong spine at front of fin, anal fin short based and rounded. Body covered with fairly small scales firmly embedded in skin, 55-65 scales in the lateral line. Barbel coloration, a warm greeny-brown on the back, golden yellow on the sides and ventrally, fins dark, except pectoral, pelvic and anal fins which are yellowish orange.


A bottom living fish in the middle reaches of lowland rivers. Particularly common in areas where the river bed is gravely and the current is moderate, often in weir pools. Barbel are typically most active at night, usually in schools.


Bottom living invertebrates, particularly crustaceans, insect larvae and molluscs.


Barbel spawn in late spring following an upstream migration to clean gravel beds. The yellowish eggs stick to stones, usually in the interstices between them.


The average size will be about 7-8 lbs, but there are many specimen fish to be caught by those who put the effort in. The current UK barbel record is 19lb 6oz.

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