Apron (Zingel asper)

Apron, Zingel asper, studio shot
Loading more images and videos...

Apron fact file

Apron description

GenusZingel (1)

The elusive fish (Zingel asper) is a small and highly mobile fish. It is usually light brown or dark grey, with a patterning of mottled dark grey spots on its head. It also has irregular darker stripes running downwards along its body, allowing it to blend in with the gravel beds of the streams it inhabits (4). The apron can be differentiated from related species by its two dorsal fins, each of which has a number of rigid spines (5).

Also known as
Length: up to 220 mm (2)
Average weight: 16 - 40 g (3)

Apron biology

Not much is known about the behaviour of the fish, but it is believed to behave in a similar way to the closely related streber (Zingel streber), which lives in small colonies or schools of several individuals that have territories scattered through the habitat (4). The apron lurks on the bottom of the river bed during the day, coming out to feed at twilight (6). Its diet consists of different types of invertebrates, consuming flies and midges in winter, and mayflies and caddisflies during the rest of the year. Most of the feeding and growth of this species occurs during the spring and summer (7).

The fish is a relatively short lived species, surviving for just three and a half years. This species attains sexual maturity at two to four years of age (6). It usually reproduces only once, but can reproduce twice in a lifetime (1). The apron spawns in the deeper parts of riffles, laying its small, extremely adhesive eggs onto the gravel stream floor. The eggs hatch within two weeks and the larvae feed on plankton near the surface until they reach a length of about two and a half centimetres. They then move to deeper water (5).


Apron range

The apron is now restricted to four subpopulations in the basin of the Rhone River in the southeast of France and Switzerland (4).


Apron habitat

Found in moderately fast flowing streams and rivers, the apron prefers waterways with gravely or stony bottoms, and containing sandbanks or riffles for breeding (5).


Apron status

The apron is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered


Apron threats

The apron is threatened by water pollution and habitat destruction (1). It is facing increasing fragmentation of populations due to damming of the river, in which they are endemic, to produce hydroelectric power (8).


Apron conservation

The plight of the fish has been recognised internationally by the European Union and its habitat has now been protected (9). Conservation measures also include a ban on catching this fish, and there are proposals to reintroduce the apron into parts of the river to reduce the fragmentation of the population (4) (8).

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

Find out more

More information on the apron:



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.


Dorsal fin
The unpaired 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, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
Immature stage in an animal’s lifecycle, after it hatches from an egg and before it changes into the adult form. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but are usually unable to reproduce.
Aquatic organisms, usually tiny, that drift passively with water movements; includes phytoplankton (plants), zooplankton (animals), or other organisms such as bacteria.
Light rapids where water flows across a shallow section of river.
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.


  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
  2. Muus, B.J. and Dahlström, P. (1968) Süßwasserfische. BLV Verlagsgesellschaft, München.
  3. Billard, R. (1997) Les poissons d'eau douce des rivières de France. Identification, inventaire et répartition des 83 espèces. Delachaux & Niestlé, Lausanne.
  4. Lelek, A. (1987) The freshwater fishes of Europe. Vol. 9, Threatened fishes of Europe. Wiesbaden, AUCLA-Verlag.
  5. Kottelat, M. and Freyhof, J. (2007) Handbook of European freshwater fishes. Publications Kottelat, Cornol, Switzerland.
  6. FishBase (November, 2011)
  7. Cavalli, L., Pech, N. and Chappaz, R. (2003) Diet and growth of the endangered Zingel asper in the Durance River. Journal of Fish Biology, 63: 460-471.
  8. Labonne, J. and Gaudin, P. (2006) Modelling population viability in fragmented environments: contribution to the conservation of an endangered percid (Zingel asper). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 63: 650-659.
  9. Fish Conservation Centre (1995) Freshwater fish of annexes II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive. Fish Conservation Centre, Brussels.

Image credit

Apron, Zingel asper, studio shot  
Apron, Zingel asper, studio shot

© Michel Roggo

Michel Roggo


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Apron (Zingel asper) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top