10 20 40 60 cm
mittakaava < 20 cm
Gösta Sundman: Suomen Kalat (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland), Lauri Urho. All rights reserved.
- Family: Carps and minnows – Cyprinidae
- Similar species: belica, dace, vendace
- Size: 9–15 cm.
- Appearance: The bleak is one of the slimmest and most streamlined members of the carp family. Somewhat similar in this respect to the dace. However, the bleak has a longer anal fin (17–22 rays), a protruding lower jaw, and an upward-pointing mouth. The longer anal fin also distinguishes the bleak from much rarer belica (11–14 rays). Although bleak bear some resemblance to vendace and small whitefish, they lack the adipose fin characteristic of the salmon family. The bleak’s pectoral and pelvic fins are well forward of the leading edge of the dorsal fin. Scales fairly large and easily detached.
- Colouring: Pale, sides silvery. Fins colourless, slightly greyish in larger specimens. In spawning fish the fins may take on a delicate orange colour. Bleak lack the dark lateral stripe of the belica.
- Reproduction: Spawns several times between late May and early July. Spawning bleak congregate in large shoals in shallow water over gravel. At such times the water can boil with fish as they leap into the air. Terns, gulls, perch and other predatory fish are quick to spot the chance of an easy meal.
- Food: Plankton and surface insects.
- Distribution and habitat: Common in freshwaters as far north as Sodankylä. Not found in the Kitkajoki system in Kuusamo. Also common along all Finland’s coasts. Bleak move close to the surface in large shoals and thrive in large lakes and slow-moving rivers. Not particular about water quality and can cope with eutrophication provided oxygen levels are reasonable, hence its absence from certain highly eutrophic lakes.
Bleak are among the easiest fish to spot during the summer. They swim close to the surface and often show as they take insects or leap in panic to avoid attacks from perch.