Italian nase (Chondrostoma soetta)

Italian nase, close-up
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Italian nase fact file

Italian nase description

GenusChondrostoma (1)

Once common in Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia, the Italian nase (Chondrostoma soetta) is now considered to be threatened with extinction (1). This medium-sized fish has a sideways-compressed body, a small, conical head and a forked tail with two pointed lobes. It has a prominent mouth with rigid lips, used principally for eating algae. The Italian nase is typically grey, with silver sides dotted with black and a white abdomen. The dorsal fin is silver-green, while the other fins range in colour from light pink to orange or yellow (3).

Length: up to 45 cm (2)
up to 1 kg (3)

Italian nase biology

The Italian nase is an omnivorous fish, with a diet comprising algae, organic debris and some invertebrates (mainly snails) (2) (3).

A gregarious fish, the Italian nase lives in schools, sometimes with other cyprinids (fish in the Cyprinidae family). The spawning season begins at the end of April, when the Italian nase usually migrates to small streams or creeks, where each female lays up to 100,000 green eggs. The eggs hatch after fifteen days, and the Italian nase reaches sexual maturity at three to four years of age (3) (4).


Italian nase range

Today, the Italian nase can only be found in northern Italy and in the southern part of Switzerland. It is now extinct in Slovenia and in the Isonzo River basin in Italy, due to the introduction of the common nase (Chondrostoma nasus) (1).


Italian nase habitat

The preferred habitats of the Italian nase are deepwater lakes (1) and the lower and middle reaches of large rivers, with a moderate current (2). It prefers clear waters, with gravel bottoms and a large amount of vegetation. During the summer, the Italian nase can be found hiding behind big rocks or aquatic plants situated in well-oxygenated rapids, while in winter it usually migrates to deeper and warmer waters (3).


Italian nase status

The Italian nase is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Italian nase threats

Pollution and the extraction of river waters, mainly due to agricultural activities, are posing a serious threat to the survival of this fish, as is the introduction of some non-endemic species, including the wels catfish (Silurus glanis), the common nase (Chondrostoma nasus) and the common roach (Rutilus rutilus) (1). These species are generally introduced for sport-fishing, a popular activity with Italian people (3).

Since the Italian nase needs to migrate to suitable places to spawn during spring, dams and other barriers also represent a threat to the survival of this animal. Predation by cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) is also of concern, as cormorants are becoming a serious pest and taking large numbers of fish in some locations in Italy (1).

Climate change also poses a long-term threat to the Italian nase (1), as an increase in global temperatures is predicted to result in a decrease in freshwater in the Mediterranean basin region (7).


Italian nase conservation

The Italian nase is protected in Europe under Appendix III of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (also known as the Bern Convention) (5). Restoration projects are being discussed in Italy, which would recreate suitable zones in rivers and lakes in which freshwater fishes could live.  Creating ‘safe passages’ so that the Italian nase can migrate easily between lakes and spawning sites, avoiding any dams or other barriers, would be a solution to the problem of population fragmentation (6).


Find out more

To learn about efforts to protect freshwater ecosystems see:



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


Simple plants that lack roots, stems and leaves but contain the green pigment chlorophyll. Most occur in marine and freshwater habitats.
Dorsal fin
The fin found on the back of the body of fish.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs and spiders.
Feeding on both plants and animals.
To produce or deposit large quantities of eggs in water.
The production or depositing of large quantities of eggs in water.


  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2010)
  2. FishBase (October, 2010)
  3. Ittiofauna (October, 2010)
  4. Kirchhofer, A. and Hefti, D. (1996) Conservation of Endangered Freshwater Fish in Europe. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.
  5. Council of Europe: Bern Convention (October, 2010)
  6. Zerunian, S. (2003) Piano d’azione generale per la conservazione dei Pesci d’acqua dolce italiani. Quaderni di Conservazione della Natura, 17: 1-123.
  7. WWF: Climate Change Impacts in Mediterranean Basin (May, 2011)

Image credit

Italian nase, close-up  
Italian nase, close-up

© Dr. Massimo Lorenzoni

Dr. Massimo Lorenzoni
Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare ed Ambientale - Università di Perugia
Via Elce di Sotto
06100 Perugia
Tel: +39 (075) 585716
Fax: +39 (075) 5855615


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