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How to Age a Fish

How to determine age by examining scales

Perhaps the most universal way to determine the age of a fish is by analyzing scales. To do this, you need a microscope or magnifying glass that provides tenfold magnification.

fish

This analysis can be compared to determining the age of a tree from tree rings, but when considering fish, it does not need to be sawed. When looking at the scales, small rings can be seen. Each of them is equal to one year. Very often they are called winter, although they can appear at other times of the year, for example, in spring or summer. The habitat does not affect their appearance, therefore the age of any individual, be it river or sea, can be determined in this way.

With the help of magnifying devices, it is possible to determine the size of an individual in different years of its life. Imagine a fish one meter long with a scale radius of one centimeter. Let’s say the segment running from the first ring to the center of the scale is six millimeters. Thus, it can be understood that at the age of one year the length of the fish was sixty centimeters.

Thanks to this, you can also see the growth rate. If the rings are close to each other, the fish grew slowly during this period of time. It also allows you to determine if there are any diseases that have affected growth. Also, the growth rate may indicate how well the individual ate.

How to determine the age of an aquarium fish

A farmer who personally rears fish is unlikely to face problems in determining the age. In the end, it is he who must monitor their birth. As for aquarium fish, the situation is much more complicated. It will not be possible to determine the age by eye. the scales are too small. Color and size are also not very suitable, as they are greatly influenced by environmental conditions such as temperature, food, and more. The following signs are typical for old fish:

  • Dull scales;
  • Lethargy;
  • Poor appetite
  • Reduced movement speed.

However, even these signs may indicate a completely different cause. illness. Over time, the color may become bright again, and the former prowess and appetite will return to the fish itself.

How can you determine the age of a fish by scales and other features

There are many professions in the world that are directly related to the breeding and research of various types of fish. Knowing the age of an individual, you can detect any diseases and other abnormalities. That is why it is important to know how to determine the age of a fish.

Ways to calculate how old a fish is

There are several ways to do this:

  • Examine scales
  • Examine bones
  • Examine external signs (color, etc.)

Definition by bones and cartilage

Thanks to the rapid development of ichthyology, scientists have managed to dispel many legends about giant long-lived fish. For example, one of the most popular tales among scientists and fishermen was the story of a pike that allegedly lived for more than two hundred years and weighed about one hundred and thirty kilograms. Her skeleton has even been shown at scientific exhibitions. A more detailed study showed that the skeleton was actually assembled from the bones of two representatives of the pike species. The purpose of the deception was to make a profit.

For this, it is necessary to have in stock other options for determining the length of the fish’s life. In a situation where the determination of age by scales is impossible, several more methods can serve as a solution. For example, conduct a study of auditory stones and operculum.

Even if only bones remain, the number of years she lived can still be found out. For each year that the fish has swam, a strip appears on its gill covers. Cartilaginous species also have their own annual rings. They are located on the rays at the base of the pectoral fins.

The lifespan of some species can be determined by cutting otoliths. They are solid formations that appear in places experiencing mechanical irritation. All rings are very clearly visible at the cut.

Long-lived fish

It is extremely important for ichthyologists to know the exact answer to the question “how to find out the age of a fish.” Knowing it, you can make many different predictions. For example, when is it worth waiting for an increase in the population (many species reproduce every few years). For especially interesting specimens, for example, those who are listed in the Red Book, scientists have been watching for years in order to tell exactly when the fish will lay eggs.

It is especially difficult to say something about the age of long-lived species, of which there are a lot in nature. For example, the aforementioned pike can live up to ninety years. Another good example is the Kamchatka perch. The life record of this giant has reached one hundred and forty years. There are many rumors about catfish. Rumor has it that they can live for more than a hundred years, but in fact there has not yet been an individual that has lived more than forty.

How to determine age by scales

The scales help determine how long an individual has grown in the previous year, how old the fish is and how intensively it has grown. The scales are examined under a microscope, magnifying it several dozen times. This is the most versatile method for determining the age of a fish. The scale plate is covered with small rings that look like the annual rings of trees. They determine the age of various mammals, as well as mollusks. Each ring is located along the entire perimeter of the scale and is equal to 1 year of life.

Unlike aquatic inhabitants, the age of terrestrial animals is determined by bones and teeth. The formation of annual rings on fish scales occurs in winter, but sometimes they appear in summer and spring. How to research them correctly:

  • Damaged scales cannot be used. They must be intact and large.
  • Flakes are washed with alcohol.
  • If you look at the plates under a microscope, you can see not only rings, but also various depressions and ridges.

Gill covers can be used instead of scales. They have marks on which to calculate the age. It is much more convenient to work with them, since their size is several times larger than the scales.

Methods for determining the age of fish

How the age of a fish can be determined is known to specialists who are associated with fish activities. The age of the caught fish is also determined by its size and weight. But these data will be inaccurate, because its development is influenced by the general conditions of the reservoir and the amount of food in it. Scientists conduct age determination of fish as follows:

  • On the scales;
  • Bones;
  • Gills;
  • External painting.

We calculate the age of the rings

To calculate the age of the fish, you need to prepare everything you need. For research you need a notebook, pen and calculator:

  • To enlarge the picture 20 times, use a magnifying glass or binoculars. It is often used by professional anglers.
  • The work is carried out on a table, having previously covered it with a white cloth. Use a knife and tweezers from tools.
  • The carcass is examined and a suitable site is selected for testing. Better to choose otolith or spine.
  • The selected area is thoroughly cleaned. Remove all blood and mucus. The fish can be placed in a container filled with diluted alcohol. After 5 minutes, the carcass is removed from the solution, and the area under study is wiped with a dry napkin.
  • A visual line is drawn from the central point of the carcass to the fin. 15 records are taken from this site.
  • The scales located in the fin area are not used, since they are poorly visible. Choose only solid plates with an even shape.
  • If a microscope is used for research, then the width of each sclerite is calculated using a scaled eyepiece.
  • All numbers are written down in a notebook, and then calculated. The final figures are her age.

The external state of the scales shows what happened to the fish throughout its life. The fish spawn when the scales break off. Therefore, by the broken plates, it is determined how often the individual produced offspring.

Determination of age by bones

What to do and how to find out the age of the fish if its scales are damaged or completely absent. Professional anglers will be able to tell the whole life story of a fish, even if the material is damaged. But beginners will not be able to do this. Therefore, it is worth conducting a study of the gill covers, auditory stones, skull, pectoral fins or bones, which will tell how the fish lived for a whole year. Definition process:

  • The operculum, vertebrae or bones of the skull are placed in a container with water. The contents are boiled for 5 minutes.
  • Then all the elements are treated with salicylic alcohol and wiped dry.
  • A thin, even cut is made on each bone.
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How can you determine the age of a fish

Every fisherman should know how to determine the age of a fish. All diseases and deviations in the development of any individual can be detected by age. Therefore, different specialists are engaged in the research and breeding of fish. In 1684 A. Levenguk established that the lived years of each individual can be recognized by the concentric lines of the scales. Several centuries later, the German ichthyologist S. Goffbauer described the structure of carp scales. From his research, he determined that the annual rings forming on the plates of the scales show the exact age.

How do annual rings appear in fish

Age, reproductive capacity and growth rate are all calculated by the rings. The study of the plates allows scientists to carry out appropriate analyzes and observe the population of each individual, while monitoring the ecological situation. If you carefully examine each ring, you can see that it has a wide light ring and a dark narrow one. What do they mean:

  • Light rings indicate that the individual has developed and grew rapidly. This growth rate occurs in April.
  • If the conditions for development were unfavorable, then dark, narrow rings appear. It happens in winter.

All favorable and unfavorable conditions for development are displayed on the bones and scales of fish in the form of layers. These formations are their feature, which the representatives of this fauna possess. A separate plate that has grown over the year shows the conditions in which the individual lived throughout this period. It appears under last year’s scale. If you count them, you can establish the age of the fish.

In some species, rings do not appear. This is due to the fact that the formation of the cover from the scales does not begin to take place immediately, but 30-40 days after the larva leaves the egg. The first to appear are transparent scales. The second layer of thicker plates is formed in the second year of life. It appears under transparent scales. The third layer grows in the third year. An individual, whose age reaches 7 years, will form 7 rings.

What are sclerites

Sclerites (ridges) are formations that arise on the outer layer of the scales. The formation of rings in some individuals occurs in the spring. But for bream living in the Aral Sea, this period falls in autumn, and for pike perch from the Sea of ​​Azov. at the end of July. Sclerites formation:

  • The increase in the size of the scales occurs with the growth of the fish. And since the individual develops in different ways, then the size of the scales becomes different. This difference manifests itself in the form of sclerites and various scars. They have arcuate or circular placement.
  • The space between sclerites and their width can be narrow or wide. Thin zones are formed at the time of slow development (in cold climates), and wide (in warm climates). during intensive development.
  • The annual ring is determined by the outer line of nearby sclerites (narrowed growth area).
  • The additional formations that have appeared show how the life cycle of an individual has changed over the year. Sclerites arise due to temperature changes in water, feeding method, spawning and migration frequency. In the area of ​​the first year ring, you can often see the manifestation of the finger ring.

Different types of fish have their own shape and size of scales.

Calculating the age of aquarium fish

  • Poor appetite;
  • Dull shade;
  • Lethargy;
  • Fish moves poorly in water.

Household conditions greatly affect fish size and color, and scales are too small for age determination. Therefore, all these indicators sometimes mean that the fish is sick. Its mobility and bright color can at any time.

How can you see the annual rings in fish

It is very problematic to count or detect annual rings in fish, especially with the naked eye. Therefore, you need to have a magnifying glass or binoculars if everything happens on the pond. If it is decided to do this at home, then it is better to arm yourself with a microscope. Before the process itself you need:

  • Prepare scales for inspection and, if necessary, rinse them with alcohol.
  • For inspection, it is better to take the largest scales that are located on the sides.
  • The flake should not have mechanical damage.

For more accurate calculations, it is necessary to take into account the absolute and relative values ​​of the sclerites. Under a microscope, annual rings, ridges and depressions will be visible. After several such approaches, it is possible to realistically and with great accuracy determine the age of the fish.

How do fish rings appear??

To correctly and accurately determine the age of the fish, you need to know the physiology of the growth of annual rings.

If you look closely, you will notice that the rings are distributed in several stages: behind the wide and light rings there are narrow and dark rings. The wide ring indicates the moments when the fish was actively growing and developing. As a rule, these are spring, summer and autumn. A dark ring forms when the fish is in cold water with little or no food. Sometimes it is difficult to identify dark rings in fish, which indicates difficult wintering conditions.

Such rings are formed because the bones of the fish and its scales are endowed with such a feature as the appearance of layers, depending on living conditions. On the other hand, uniform development of scales or skeleton is possible only if the fish is in ideal conditions, which never happens.

Each passed year of a fish’s life does not remain unmarked on the scales or fish bones. At first, the scale consists of a transparent plate. A year later, a second plate forms under it, which goes beyond the edge of the first. Then the third, then the fourth, etc. If the fish is about 5 years old, then its scales consist of 5 plates following one after the other. Such a construction resembles a puff cake, when the smallest, but the oldest plate is on top, and the largest, but youngest plate is below.

Determine the age of the fish by scales

If you look at the scales with a microscope, you can see peculiar rings on it, very similar to those observed on a cut of a tree. Each ring bears witness to another year passed. By the scales it is realistic to determine both the age of the fish and its length, by which it has grown over the previous year.

Instances up to 1 meter long have scales with a radius of up to 1 centimeter. The distance from the annual ring (initial) to the central part of the scale is about 6 mm. Based on this information, it can be determined that the fish has grown by 60 cm in a year.

If you look at the scales under a microscope, you will notice another, but very important feature. the unevenness of the surface. On the scales, you can see ridges and depressions, which are also called sclerites. During one year of life, 2 layers of sclerites appear. large and small. A large sclerite indicates a period of active growth of fish, and a small one indicates an experienced autumn-winter period.

If you accurately determine the number of double sclerites, then you can simply determine the age of the fish. But, even in this case, you need to have certain skills.

But this is not a problem if the fish has large scales. At the same time, there are fish species that have rather small scales and this method is not suitable, since it is not possible to calculate how long the fish has lived. That is, you can count it, but this will require special equipment. In this case, the skeleton is taken as a basis for calculating the age of the fish. Based on this, we can conclude that it is not at all easy for an ordinary person to cope with this task, since the process requires special tools.

How to determine the age of a fish

This is a very interesting question that worries many anglers. Although, on the other hand, this is not really important if there are no restrictions on the fish catch. Some of them determine the approximate age by the size of the fish. But the size and weight of the fish may depend on a number of factors, including the availability of food in the reservoir. Therefore, this approach gives extremely approximate results, although quite satisfactory.

There is another way by which you can find out a more accurate age of a fish, similar to how the age of a tree is calculated on a cut from annual rings. You can find out about this by the scales, if you carefully examine it, by the bones and gills. Experts in this field know almost everything about fish: what age they are, how intensively it grew, how many times it spawned, etc. In other words, fish scales are like a business card, or rather, like a passport.

How the fish age is calculated?

Using scales and bones, you can accurately determine the age of the fish or its growth a year earlier. This will require a microscope and some tools. By the state of the scales, it is realistic to determine what happened to the fish during the spawning periods, for example. In some species of fish, when it goes to spawn, the scales break off. By this factor, you can determine how many times the fish has spawned in its life.

How to determine the age of a pike, grayling, herring, perch, sturgeon

The question, what is the age of fish, has long been of interest to scientists and fishermen. Just as the age category of a tree is determined (by the rings, clearly visible on the cut), so it is possible to find out the lifespan of various fish.

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You can read the information by carefully examining the scales, or you can also study the bones and gills. Modern scientists can successfully learn almost everything about marine life: what age, the period of fasting and satiety, how many times spawning took place, and much more.

How age is calculated?

Using the same scales or bones, it is not difficult to calculate age. To do this, you need to arm yourself with a microscope and the necessary tools. Using elementary formulas, you can get information about the size of the fish, for example, last year.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that the growth of an individual is directly proportional to its growth. Consequently, the increase in scales per year is also relative to its length, as the increase in body length per year to the total length.

By the condition of the scales, you can determine what happened to the fish during spawning. In a large number of fish, the scales break off during the spawning period. It is by them that you can calculate how many times a fish has spawned in its life.

Determining the age of fish of different species

It is very easy to determine the age of pikes, taimen, grayling, herring and many other species. The thinner and longer the fish scales, the easier it is to determine the age.

It is very difficult to specify the age of such fish as perch, burbot, eel. In this case, flat bones are taken for research. If you suddenly caught a sturgeon, then to determine the age you need to take the largest rays of the fin from the back.

After that, make a cross-section at the widest point and grind to full transparency. Annual rings will appear on the fin. Next, an inspection is carried out, as in the case of scales. The age of the catfish is determined in the same way.

In addition to the above method, age is perfectly determined by examining the gills. Each passing year leaves its mark on the gill covers. Scientists have found that even cartilaginous fish have their own annual rings. They are formed on thick rays, which are located in the places of the pectoral fins.

Physiology of the appearance of annual rings in fish

To correctly identify the fish age, as well as what happened to her during this time, you need to be able to understand correctly the principle of the growth of annual rings.

If you look closely at them, you can notice the phased arrangement of the rings: wide light shades change narrow and dark.

The wide ring indicates the fact that during this period the fish was actively increasing in size and developing. This period falls in spring, summer and early autumn.

The formation of a dark ring of a narrow shape falls at a time when she lived in a cold reservoir and practically without food. In some species, winter rings are practically invisible. This indicates that the fish was in uncomfortable conditions and without food.

Rings (sclerites) arise because the scales and bones of fish are endowed with the ability to form layers in the form of alternating rings.

Every year of life leaves its mark on the scales or fish bone. At first, the flake looks like a transparent flat plate. A year later, a second appears under it, much larger in size. Its outer edge extends beyond the edge of the first plate. The next year, the third is formed, etc.

For example, if a waterfowl is five years old, then each scale will consist of five plates. This principle is somewhat reminiscent of a toy for children: the smallest is placed on top (she is the oldest), and below the largest (she is the youngest).

Determine the age by scales

If you carefully study the scales under a microscope, you can see rings on them, very similar in appearance to the circles of trees. Each of them eloquently indicates that another year is lived. It is very interesting that the scales can be used to determine not only how old it is, but also how long it has reached during the year.

For example, in a fish 1 meter long, the scales in the radius are one centimeter. The distance from the initial annual ring to the central part of the scale will be 6 mm. This eloquently indicates that the one-year-old has acquired a length of 60 cm.

Examining the scales under a microscope, it is immediately striking that they have an inhomogeneous surface. Depressions and ridges are observed on it. They appear like age rings. Scaly tubercles are otherwise called sclerites. As a rule, in one year of life, a fish develops 2 layers of sclerites (large and small). Large indicates the period when she was growing up, developing and leading an active lifestyle.

Small, on the contrary, grows in the autumn-winter period and indicates the passivity of the fish at this time. To determine age, it is necessary to count the number of such double sclerites and it will be possible to clarify the approximate life span.

How can you see the annual rings in fish

In order to examine the annual rings, you need to purchase a magnifying glass or binoculars (this will be needed if there is a need to conduct a survey directly on the reservoir). If the examination is planned at home, then devices better than a microscope cannot be found.

  • Prepare the scales for inspection, rinse in alcohol, if necessary.
  • For research, it is better to take scales from the middle of the fish and from its sides.
  • The material for consideration must be taken undamaged, of ideal shape.

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Calculating the age of aquarium fish

  • Older fish are reluctant to feed;
  • If the color of the fish is dimmer than that of its other counterparts, then we can assume that it has lived for quite a few years;
  • They are inactive and swim slowly.

Basically, these are the main ways a beginner can guess the age of the fish. Sometimes their color and slow movement indicate disease and poor nutrition, poor water quality and temperature changes. Therefore, you should not buy such aquarium fish. There are two drawbacks here:

  • The fish is old and how long it still has to live is unknown.
  • The fish is sick and it is not clear whether it will recover after the purchase or not.

Therefore, aquarium fish should have a bright color and swim quickly.

Features of determining the age of fish

The calculation of the age of fish is similar to the method when the tree rings are determined. So experts calculate the age of mollusks, mammals and reptiles. For land animals, a different principle works. their age is established by teeth and bones. Foresters, farmers and entrepreneurs from the data obtained can calculate how many years a particular animal has lived. Fishermen who have caught a large fish are interested in how to determine the age of the fish.

Sclerites formation

Over the years, the fish grows, and it has more scales. If the diet of an individual is meager, and living conditions are harsh, scleritic circles begin to grow unevenly. Their width becomes different: in summer they are wide, and in winter they are narrow or completely absent. Bad and good living conditions can bring the rings closer or apart from each other. In any case, even if the dark arches are poorly visible, there will be wide and light ones. summer ones, which determine the age of the fish. Their number will accurately indicate the years of the individual.

Determination of age by bones

Often, wounds can be seen on the coating of an individual, which complicates the reading of information on the rings. Long-term fish farmers do it without difficulty, they are not afraid of such difficulties. They will tell you that the scales are wonderful and tell the whole story of the fish. Anglers without experience cannot boast of such skills. If the scale cover has been damaged, then the age of the fish can be determined by:

  • Operculum;
  • Jaws;
  • Skull;
  • Shoulder girdle;
  • Fin ray cuts;
  • Flat bones;
  • Bone skeleton;
  • Otolith bones;
  • Pectoral fins.

Growth of annual rings

Scientists can easily recognize almost all information about fish by scales. Scleritic rings are winter and summer circles on a fish plate, which are used to calculate the ability to reproduce, age, normalization of growth, and much more. Therefore, scientific research allows analysis of any population. Scientists, determining the age of fish by scales, will always be aware of all environmental statistics.

In order to accurately determine the age of a fish by its scales, a person must have certain information. If you take a caught individual and carefully examine it, then on its scales there will be rings. narrow and wide. The color of the rings ranges from very light to dark. Wide and light colored rings indicate good nutrition and vigorous growth. Such a favorable period can be in autumn, summer or spring.

After the lived annual cycle, scleritic rings appear on the bones and scales of the fish. These circles alternate and overlap. Not all species can have such lines, since the scale cover can form only a month after the larva emerges from the egg. Sometimes it happens that the scales begin to grow much later.

In the first year, a transparent scale forms. In the second annual cycle, a second, thicker one appears under it, in the third year also. and so on. For example, a fish that has lived for 6 years has 6 rings, and they all differ in size. The first line is the oldest, it is the smallest, and the largest is the youngest.

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From theory to practice

When a novice researcher gains experience, he will be able to determine the age of the caught individual up to two months. In addition, he will be able to read the story of the infancy of an individual, determine the history of diseases, with what intensity it grew, what were the living conditions in the reservoir.

If you come across a migratory species, for example, the salmon family, then the bones can be used to determine how much time they spent at sea and in the river. To do this, it is enough to arm yourself with a calculator, pen and notepad. How can you determine the age of a fish:

  • To carry out the analysis, a magnifying glass (loupe) is always taken, with a picture magnification of 20 times. Experienced fish farmers use binoculars.
  • We need a folding table and white cloth. You will need tweezers, a utility knife, a rag or napkin, and salicylic or ammonia.
  • A carcass is taken and a convenient site is viewed to determine information about it. This can be done on the spine or otolite. The area is cleared of blood and mucus. If excessively contaminated, the carcass is placed in a container with an alcohol solution. After 5 minutes, all dirt is removed with a rag or napkin.
  • From the cover of the fish, you need to visually draw a line from the middle of the body to the fin and take 15 plates from there. Do not remove scales from the base of the fins. It’s hard to see them.
  • The plates are selected whole, without defects, with an ideal shape. If you have a microscope, that’s just fine. The scaled eyepiece with divisions reads the width of each sclerite. All data is recorded on paper and calculated. In this way, it is determined how many years the caught individual lived.

If the researcher failed to find out how old the fish is, then you can use the bones of the skull, otoliths, gill covers and vertebrae. They are placed in water and boiled for at least 5 minutes. It is desirable to treat these fragments with salicylic alcohol. Then they are wiped dry with a rag. A saw cut is made on the bones, but only neat and thin. Growth rings are visible under a microscope, the very principle of study is the same as with scales.

Record centenarians

It is known that the life span of fish is sometimes longer than that of humans. For example, a beluga can live for about 100 years under normal living conditions. The sturgeon kaluga lives on average 58 years. The Far Eastern sturgeon is 66 years old, and the paddlefish is 23 years old. Scientists have recorded that one paddlefish could live for more than 50 years.

The Atlantic sturgeon can live 155 years in favorable conditions. The category of long-livers includes eel, catfish, pike, taimen (up to 90 years old). Lungs live for 88 years. In the United States, fishermen caught a sturgeon from the Winnebago reservoir, which was 83 years old. The whale shark lives to be 70 years old. All records are broken by the mirror carp, which was caught in Japan. Surprisingly, this female was able to live 228 years.

There are fish species that are prone to rapid aging. these are the Far Eastern salmon. For example, spawning of pink salmon begins after one and a half years. At this age, she becomes an adult and begins to age early.

Other fish species live somewhat less: char, bream, ide, roach and perch (13 years on average). Muksuns, crucians and nelms reach the age of 30 years. Minnows, catfish, minnows, tuguns (6 years old). However, this lifespan was calculated for fish that lived in the wild, and those that live in an aquarium live much longer.

How to determine the age of a fish.

In most ichthyological textbooks, you can find information that fish grow all their lives, and their age can be accurately determined by counting scales or some bones. I was taught the same at school. Unfortunately, neither the first nor the second statement is true! The age of fish is determined by the number of annual rings that are “deposited” during each season. Single rings, the so-called sclerites, are formed with different frequencies depending on the growth rate of the fish. If the fish grows quickly, then the sclerites are more spread apart, and if a period of slower growth begins, then the sclerites become denser. When examining the scales (or, for example, the gill cover) under a microscope, it is enough to simply count the number of winter rings and the age of the fish itself. But how accurate is this calculation? What happens when the fish stops growing? Obviously, the “rings” have grown. And the scales and bones should stop. Counting these “frail” years is impossible.

Studying the scales, you can only determine the age of the fish until the moment when for some reason it stopped growing. This theory is confirmed by the well-known story of a carp caught in Redmere (England) in 1952. At the time of capture, the carp weighed about 20 kg and its age, based on the study of scales, was determined as 15 years.After that, the fish was sent to the London Zoo, where it lived in an aquarium for another 19 years and died in 1971. Unfortunately, the artificial habitat did not benefit the carp. He lost almost half his weight and, naturally, did not grow a single millimeter. As you might expect, the period of life in captivity did not leave the slightest trace on its scales. In other words, researchers unfamiliar with the history of the Redmira carp by examining its scales. Would have determined his age at 15 instead of 34!

That is why it is impossible to answer unequivocally how long a pike can live. It depends on the conditions in which it lives, and personal characteristics. The ichthyological literature estimates the maximum life span of a pike at 20 years, but we already know that there were periods during which the studied fish stopped growing. Under the most favorable conditions, pikes grow very quickly. Irish individuals from the aforementioned lakes on a trout-salmon “diet” reached a weight of 13-15 kg by the age of 7-11! At the same time, their relatives from the English Windermere would need 12-18 years to reach such sizes. The weight of some Irish predators at 8-11 years old exceeded 18 kg! In the overwhelming majority of European water bodies, pikes at the age of 12-18 years reach only a meter in length and weigh 7-8 kg. In general, the further north, the poorer the habitat and the shorter the growing season, the slower the growth of the predators. In the cold waters of Finland and northern Canada, pikes reach a meter in length only in the twentieth year of life.

A very interesting case was recently described on the pages of one of the Russian publications. At the Department of Ichthyology of Moscow University, the scales of a pike caught in October 2008 in the Siberian lake Kychendylto were studied. The predator weighed 17.5 kg with a length of 128 cm. The age of the fish was. 34 years!

What conclusions can be drawn from the above facts? In my opinion, pike grows the same way. Like other animals (including humans), only up to a certain size. The time it takes for predators to reach their maximum size and weight depends on the conditions created by the environment. In one body of water the fish reaches its maximum size by the age of 9-10, and in another. By 40 or even older. As a result, in the reservoirs located in the north, there is a small population of trophies weighing over 10 kg and relatively large. Where the growing season lasts six to eight months or almost the entire year (such as in Ireland).

In large lakes with a large population of vendace, as a rule, two schools of pike form. First. These are fish, constantly associated with the littoral zone and feeding mainly on roach and perches, slowly growing and, in addition, constantly attracting hunters, poachers and fishermen. The other, on the contrary, is associated with the open water belt, or pelagic. These pikes are often called “vendace” because these fish are their main food. Unfortunately, I have not come across research in this area, but I am sure that these predators grow much faster than their “coastal” counterparts.

Another rapidly growing population is the Baltic pike. Rapid growth in salt water affects all freshwater species. The main attribute of the Baltic, as mentioned above, is the flock of fat herring, which the pike can eat. However, few anglers know that it is not necessary to travel to Ireland or Sweden to catch a mega-snake. One of the best pike fishing spots

The German island of Rügen! Every year, news comes from there about the capture of several dozen trophies over 125 cm in size. Interestingly, in each season there are several of them over 130 cm! The largest trophies recorded were 137.138 and 139 cm in length! The weight of these giants ranged from 18-20 kg. The heaviest was the pike caught in January 2007 by Johan Butcher on a large silicone. With a length of 135 cm, it weighed 20.1 kg.

Fortunately, the future of this incredible population is not a worry. Despite the rather intensive fishing, it has been protected for more than ten years by the strict rule “caught. Let go. ” The scales of the largest trophies from the island of Rügen have been studied by German ichthyologists. The age of fish 138-139 cm long was estimated at 8-9 years! They grew as fast as the salmon-fed Irish pike.