Danube salmon (Hucho hucho)

Danube salmon
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Danube salmon fact file

Danube salmon description

GenusHucho (1)

One of the world’s biggest salmonids, the Danube salmon is now amongst the most endangered fish species in Europe (3) (4). This sizeable freshwater fish has an elongate, almost cylindrical body (5), a large head and mouth, and strong conical teeth (6). The back is a grey-brown to red-brown colour and patterned with numerous dark spots, the sides are reddish-grey with a copper-coloured gloss, and the belly is silvery-white (5) (7).

Also known as
Length: up to 150 cm (2)
up to 53 kg (2)

Danube salmon biology

The Danube salmon is a territorial species, but not solitary, with large individuals occupying and defending territories such as a large pool, which may be inhabited by several other individuals (2) (6). These fish undertake short migrations upstream for spawning between April and May (2) (5). Here, females make a pit in the gravel, in which the male fertilises the eggs (5). One female mates with one male, which warns off other males that approach. The length of incubation depends on water temperature, but larvae generally hatch 16 to 24 days after the eggs are ‘activated’ by appropriate water temperatures (6). Individuals then proceed to grow very rapidly, reaching sexual maturity by between four and six years of age (5). Juveniles feed primarily on invertebrates such as insect larvae, whilst adults prey mostly on fish, but also on amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and waterfowl (6).


Danube salmon range

As implied by its common name, this fish is native to the rivers of the Danube basin in Europe (2). However, in recent years it has also been introduced into other European river basins when their numbers declined due to ecological changes in the Danube (2).


Danube salmon habitat

A freshwater species found in deeper regions of strong to moderate flowing waters, which are cold, clear and oxygen-rich, with deep scours as hiding places (2) (7).


Danube salmon status

Classified as Endangered (EN A2bcde, B1+2bce) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1), and listed under Appendix III of the Bern Convention (protected fauna) (2).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Danube salmon threats

Once widespread, the Danube salmon is now amongst the most endangered fish species in Europe (3) (8). Numbers have been massively depleted due to overexploitation, industrial and agricultural pollution, deforestation (causing increased water temperatures), water redirection and badly designed or non-existent fish ladders in dams and reservoirs (2) (6). Barriers and dams are major obstacles for spawning fish and prevent genetic exchange between sub-populations (8). In addition, the fish’s popularity with anglers as a sports fish has probably also contributed to the species’ decline (2). As a result of these combined threats, the Danube salmon is now common in only around 33% of its former range, rare in 28 % and has disappeared completely from 39 % (4).


Danube salmon conservation

Conservation efforts to date have involved the establishment of reserves, restocking of populations and introductions into rivers not previously inhabited by the species, legal restrictions on fishing times and quotas, and even a total ban on fishing the Danube salmon in most European countries (4) (6). Unfortunately, none of the measures have had long-term success, partly due to the continuing pollution of rivers (4) (6). It has therefore been advocated that total protection should be given to the Danube salmon’s habitat, with particular focus on the halting of pollution, and that more ecologically sound fishery management protocols be implemented (6).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For more information on the Danube salmon see:


Holčik, J. (1995) Threatened fishes of the world: Hucho hucho (Linnaeus, 1757) (Salmonidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 43: 105-106.



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: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk


  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2006)
  2. FishBase (March, 2006)
  3. Schmutz, S., Zitek, A., Zobl, S., Jungwirth, M., Knopf, N., Kraus, E., Bauer, T. and Kaufmann, T. (2002) Integrated approach to the conservation and restoration of Danube salmon, Hucho hucho, populations in Austria. Conservation of Freshwater Fishes: Options for the Future, 0: 157 - 173.
  4. Holčik, J. (1990) Conservation of the huchen, Hucho hucho (L.), (Salmonidae) with special reference to Slovakian rivers. Journal of Fish Biology, 37: 113 - .
  5. Fischerweb (March, 2006)
  6. Holčik, J. (1995) Threatened fishes of the world: Hucho hucho (Linnaeus, 1757) (Salmonidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 43: 105 - 106.
  7. Angeltreff.org (March, 2006)
  8. Biodiversity.be: E-Conference (March, 2006)

Image credit

Danube salmon  
Danube salmon

© A. Hartl

Andreas Hartl
Gartenstrasse 23
D-84405 Dorfen


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