Phoxinellus (Phoxinellus alepidotus)

Synonyms: Paraphoxinus alepidotus
GenusPhoxinellus (1)
SizeLength: up to 14.5 cm (2)

Phoxinellus alepidotus is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

A small freshwater fish, Phoxinellus alepidotus is plain and uniformly-coloured (3) (4). The body lacks scales, except along the lateral line, where they extend to between the pelvic and anal fins. The dorsal and anal fins are short and relatively unbranched, and the caudal fin is moderately forked (2) (3) (5).

Phoxinellus alepidotus has a distinctive arrangement of pharyngeal teeth (specialised teeth in the throat of the fish), which can be used to distinguish it from similar species (4) (5). 

Phoxinellus alepidotus is known only from the Cetina river basin and from waters in karst region of Livanjsko, Glamocko and Grahovo in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1).

Phoxinellus alepidotus primarily inhabits clear karstic streams (1) (2) (6), as well as lowland water bodies with little current. During winter or drought, Phoxinellus alepidotus will enter underground streams (2).

Very little specific information is available on the biology of Phoxinellus alepidotus. It is likely that this species spawns in the shallower parts of streams, where the female probably lays two or three batches of eggs during the breeding season (2).

Water extraction, water pollution and drought are currently considered to be the greatest threats to Phoxinellus alepidotus and other freshwater fish in the region. Dam construction and introduced invasive species are also likely to impact on this species’ population (1) (2) (7).

Alteration to this species’ habitat and water shortage due to increasing economic development and climate change will further contribute to the ongoing decline of Phoxinellus alepidotus (4).

There are currently no known specific conservation measures in place for Phoxinellus alepidotus.

The Convention on Biological Diversity has produced a ‘Strategy and Action Plan for the Protection of Biological and Landscape Diversity of Croatia’, which includes recommended measures to protect the karst region as an area of global value. The measures include identifying the species present in the area, along with proposals for their protection (6). 

Further recommendations include reducing pollution in the region and carrying out new research to fill existing gaps in the knowledge of underground fauna, as well as raising public awareness of the karst as having importance on a global scale (6).

Such work to protect and raise awareness of the karst region should thereby benefit the species which inhabit it, including Phoxinellus alepidotus.

Find out more about Phoxinellus alepidotus:

Find out more about the Action Plan to protect Croatia’s biodiversity:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
  2. FishBase - Phoxinellus alepidotus (May, 2011)
  3. Günther, A. (1868) Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum: Physostomi. Volume 7. Dept. of Zoology, British Museum (Natural History), London.
  4. Freyhof, J., Lieckfeldt, D., Bogutskaya, N.D., Pitra, C. and Ludwig, A. (2006) Phylogenetic position of the Dalmatian genus Phoxinellus and description of the newly proposed genus Delminichthys (Teleostei: Cyprinidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 38: 416-425.
  5. Bogutskaya, N.G. and Zupancic, P. (2003) Phoxinellus pseudalepidotus (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), a new species from the Neretva basin with an overview of the morphology of Phoxinellus species of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 14(4): 369-383.
  6. Croatia National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (May, 2011)
  7. Smith, K.G. and Darwall, W.R.T. (2005) The Status and Distribution of Freshwater Fish Endemic to the Mediterranean Basin. IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Programme. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.