10 20 40 60 cm
mittakaava > 60 cm
Gösta Sundman: Suomen Kalat (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland), Lauri Urho, Jouko Lehmuskallio
Salvelinus alpinus (L.)
- Family: Salmonids – Salmonidae
- Similar species: brook trout, lake trout
- Size: Usually 30–75 cm, 0.3–1.5 kg, although larger specimens are regularly caught. Some populations, known as dwarf char, grow to only around 10–20 cm.
- Appearance: Like many other members of the salmon family the Arctic char shows considerable variation in appearance. In Finland, a distinction is made between a larger, fast-growing form and a smaller, slow-growing dwarf form. Mouth large, lined with teeth, jaws extending beyond rear edge of eye. Scales very small, numbering 123–152 along lateral line.
- Colouring: Varies considerably depending on location but clearly distinguishes char from salmon and trout. The back is dark and sides usually also darkish brown or green, though some individuals may have pale sides. Belly varies from reddish to yellowish or even white. In the spawning season the belly becomes bright red, notably in males. The small char of Lapland’s streams and lakes are always red-bellied. Sides have pale spots varying from yellowish to red. Leading edges of pelvic and anal fins white, dorsal and caudal fins dark without spots.
- Reproduction: Spawns in late autumn just before the lakes freeze over. Eggs deposited among stones or gravel in water 3–5 m deep, sometimes much deeper. Dwarf char may ascend streams to spawn, often in very shallow water. Sea-run char from the Arctic Ocean ascend the river Tenojoki to spawn in the cold waters of feeder streams.
- Food: Dwarf Arctic char feed throughout their lives on plankton, small bottom-living invertebrates and insect larvae. The faster-growing form soon becomes predatory, feeding on small whitefish, smelt and vendace.
- Distribution and habitat: Finland’s most northerly species, Arctic char inhabit many of Lapland’s upland lakes and streams, though the fish here are generally dwarf char. The larger, faster-growing Arctic char are found in the larger lakes of Lapland, with some populations also in the Vuoksi system and lake Saimaa in SE Finland. Does not occur in the Baltic Sea.
Arctic char’s lake Saimaa stand is classified as critically endangered and Lapland’s stands threatened.