Western ruivaco (Achondrostoma occidentale)

Western ruivaco
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Western ruivaco fact file

Western ruivaco description

GenusAchondrostoma (1)

The western ruivaco (Achondrostoma occidentale) is a small, inconspicuous freshwater fish which is endemic to a small part of western Portugal (1) (3). A glistening, yellow band runs the length of the western ruivaco’s flank and the base of its fins are orange. The colouration on the side of the western ruivaco becomes paler towards the underside (3). This feature is more pronounced in the western ruivaco than in the closely related Chondrostoma arcasii and Chondrostoma oligolepis, which have red rather than orange bases to their fins. These differences help to identify the western ruivaco from other members of the genus. The western ruivaco also has a much thicker jaw bone, a different arrangement and number of scales and a more elongated body than related species (3).

Length: up to 11.9 cm (2)
Weight : up to 26.5 g (2)

Western ruivaco biology

The western ruivaco reaches sexual maturity at one year old (2) and breeds in temperate waters in late April and May (4). The fish gather in spawning groups and the females release sticky eggs, which attach to stones and vegetation (4).Like other members of its family the western ruivaco is likely to be an opportunistic feeder, which mainly eats aquatic invertebrates (5)


Western ruivaco range

The western ruivaco only occurs in three small coastal streams in western-central Portugal: the Sizandro, Safarujo and Alcabrichel (3) (4).


Western ruivaco habitat

The western ruivaco lives in small coastal streams upstream of river pollution (4). Due to reduced water flow during the summer, the western ruivaco makes use of small pools and the shade from surrounding vegetation as protection from the summer heat (3) (4).


Western ruivaco status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Western ruivaco threats

The western ruivaco is threatened with pollution from industry, agriculture and sewage plants (1), and is now found only in small, isolated areas upstream of major pollution sources (3) (4). Summer droughts and the illegal removal of water for intensive agriculture has reduced the habitat of this threatened fish and had a major impact on its population (2).The surviving populations of the western ruivaco are very small (4), and it is thought that the population in the Safarujo may have been lost after the stream dried up (1).


Western ruivaco conservation

There are currently no known conservation projects relating to the western ruivaco (1) (4) but there have been pilot captive breeding studies which could be useful if reintroductions become necessary (2). This study took a population of 16 adult western ruivaco from the Alcabrichel River for captive breeding (2) and showedencouraging results. Measures to restore the rivers inhabited by the western ruivaco have also been recommended to protect this highly threatened fish (4).


Find out more

To find out more about the western ruivaco see:



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:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
The production or depositing of eggs in water.


  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2010)
  2. Gil, F. Sousa-Santos, C. and Almada, V. (2010) A simple and inexpensive technique for ex situ reproduction of Critically Endangered cyprinids - Achrondrostoma occidentale as a case study. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 41(4): 661-664.
  3. Robalo, J.I. Almada, V.C. Sousa-Santos, C. Moreira, M.I. and Doadrio, I. (2005) New species of the genus Chrondrostoma agassiz, 1832 (Actynopterigii, Cyprinidae) from western Portugal. Graellsia, 61(1): 19-29.
  4. Robalo, J.I. Sousa-Santos, C. Doadrio, I. and almada, V.C. (2008) Threatened fishes of the world: Acrondrostoma occidentale (Cyprinidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 83: 347.
  5. FishBase - Western ruivaco, (December, 2010)

Image credit

Western ruivaco  
Western ruivaco

© Jörg Freyhof

Jörg Freyhof


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