FREDIE Expedition to Romania 2012

The Danube is not only the largest river in Europe, it is also the home of the most species rich fish fauna of our (sub)continent. When it comes to fish diversity, Romania is the hot spot within the Danube drainage. Therefore, Romania was a "must" in the FREDIE project. After many arrangements, in October 2012 we were ready to go!

Easy fishing for Zingel and Romanogobio in the Somes river.

Together with Ion Navodaru from the famous Danube Delta Institute, Katherina Kurzrock (MfG)), Matthias Geiger (ZFMK) and I spent two fine weeks in Romania. Perfect weather and very low water levels made the trip to a big success. It was unbelievable how perfect all was going. No problem with the ZFMK minibus, good roads, nice weather and acceptable hotels…all was perfectly aranged by Ion!

Lake Razelm

Fishing for Liman species in lake Razelm

Percarina demidoffii

Starting from Tulcea, we were able to collect Percarina demidoffii and many others in Lake Razelm. Percarina was a real lifer for me. First, we collected them with a big net and a team of fishermen, but later I was even happy to catch some with my own small beach seine. Naturally, Percarina are not the winners of the beauty prize, but they are cool guys. Other highlights in the lower Danube were many Alosa tanaitica, Knipowitschia longecauda, a high diversity of other gobies and a lot of bird to see.

The Crisul Nergu, just one of the wonderful rivers of Romania

Cottus transssilvaniae from the Arges

Barbatula sp. Dambovitza

Romanogobio uranoscopus from the Dambovitza

From the Danube delta lakes, we moved upriver to the Carpathians for all the rheophilic species. Fishing there was a real eye-opener. I was absolutely not aware that there are still so many very nice rivers in Romania left and most are just crowded with fishes. Streams were full of different rheophilic Barbus, Chondrostoma, Squalius, Alburnoides, Romanogobio kesslerii and R. uranoscopus as well as different Gobio, Cottus and Sabanejewia species; just very natural fish communities. Even the Olt, a major tributary of the lower Danube, which is largely destroyed by hydropower dams, offered us a surprise. We stopped below a dam and the river was full of alien fishes but there is a huge population of the endangered mussel Unio crassus which must occur there in the millions.

Upper Bistrica

Cottus poecilopus from the upper Bistrica river

Then we moved east to the Siret drainage into montain streams with Cottus poecilopus and wonderfull graylings. The Siret is a very nice river in good conditions and hosts a very diverse and natural fish community.

Telestes souffia from Romanian upper Tiza drainage

From there, we moved north to Maramures, to the Tiza drainage and passed the mountains with the first snow in fall 2012. In the Viseu, we found the expected species and even caught few juvenile Hucho hucho from the last Romanian population and one of the last populations in the Tiza drainage. Even these juveniles are already cool fishes. The next day we moved to the Iza river, which was terrible polluted. Stinking mud and the stones covered with Batrachospermum algae. While it was a pain to work in this river, the fishes seemed not to be impacted. Many Romanogobio, Alburnoides, Cobitis, Sabanejewia and even the locally endemic population of Telestes souffia, all were just plentyfull.