Contributions may be sent to Peter Rolfe.
17th September 2011
Martin Salisbury wrote from Lancashire
Thanks for a great website. I rented a friend's five farm ponds in January 2011. I've done some renovation works and treated one with Siltex. I've been pondering what to do with the ponds and another friend mentioned crucians.
What a fantastic idea! A Google revealed your inspirational website. I'm truly hooked on the idea of stocking and breeding crucians! I've also just got your book" Crock of Gold" and I'm sure the info in there will be invaluable.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Well done, Martin. What a great opportunity. The one obvious thing to make sure of is that you get true crus and if you want me to look at a few photos to help check I'll do so with pleasure.
Best wishes and tight lines
18th September 2011
I should have said that I got ponds registered with Cefas in early 2011. I emailed Andy from your website last week. I'm in Lancashire but will be collecting 200 crucians end of January.
One pond is heavily silted and needs digging out. I've struggled to work out how to drain it but your syphon suggestion could be the low tech but effective method.
My friend is also going to let me extend one of the ponds. They are all small field ponds as you describe.
Got "Crock of Gold" yesterday and have nearly finished it. Great book.
Hopefully I'll be spreading crucians around Lancashire in a few years!
Martin, hi. Yes, syphoning works really well. All you need are long enough hoses and an arrangement at the top end to keep the silt and weed out. Ideally it wants to float so that the hose is taking out water from the top few inches of the pond - a plastic jerry can or something similar plus a screen over the hose end.
If you've several ponds it might be worth considering using one or more as growing-on ponds, stocking with your own crucian young once the brood fish have spawned, hopefully in May/June 2012. In that way you can put in a limited number (100 perhaps?) and encourage maximum growth for say three years before they in turn begin to spawn.
I'm glad you enjoyed the book and that Lancashire (and crucians) will benefit from your enthusiasm.
Best wishes and tight lines
30th September 2011
The pond I've tried syphoning is running off as I type! I used 25m of flexible hose followed by 60m of 3m lengths of fixed pipe. All 25mm.
Think I need to buy another set to speed up the process!
I bought a bilge hand pump which drew the water down the pipe perfectly. Soon as I broke it off it just kept flowing. Took a few minutes of hard pumping and wasn't sure if any water was ever going to appear!
Hopefully I can get the level low enough for a long arm digger to get in and clear the silt out.
Tony Carr emailed about a fine catch of crucians, using an interesting technique
24th July 2011
I just thought I'd let you know about my Crucian catch from yesterday as it was truly amazing!
In the most awful weather fishing from 09.00 until 17.30 I caught 59 Crucians (two Bream and a Tench). The venue was a three acre former sand quarry in Cheshire (a club owned gem this place). The crucians were all good sized fish, smallest about 12-14oz and biggest nudging 2lb. I was fishing the top three of my pole just beyond a weed bed on paste (very soft, moulded round a pellet on the hook) dead depth at about six feet, feeding pellets and corn, a frustrating method as there are indications all the time with a long stemmed float dancing about like mad, but you have to wait for a positive jag down or lift to connect!
My love of Crucians began in a small farm pond an awful long time ago fishing bread paste, they are just such beautiful fish (all fish are beautiful, but crucians especially so!)
Gary Truman writes about his crucian-catching in Epping Forest ponds
15th August 2011
What a great website! ...I have to admit to not having bought your book yet but it is on my Christmas and birthday list.
Oh well I may as well say a bit about myself: I'm 47 and have been fishing for about 33 years. I class myself as a pure pleasure angler, with a bit of specimen hunter heart.
My two favourite species are tench and crucians. My tench PB is 5lbs and my crucian 2lb 12oz.
Back in the mid 80's I used to fish the Ornamental Water in Wanstead Park in East London, a great venue at the time for crucians. One of my best days on there was when I had 17 crucians (including the big one) 4 tench and other assorted fish. Around the late 80's I discovered the chub in the River Roding behind the Ornamentals and got addicted to them for a few years. In the meantime the local council or the Corporation of London decided on a tidy of the Ornamentals, my favourite swims were destroyed and I never really went back.
I love small lake/pond fishing so a couple of seasons ago I decided to concentrate my efforts on the Ponds in Epping Forest. I haven't had a crucian over a Pound yet but I'm sure it will come one day. The fishing is free, the ponds are pretty and there are plenty of fish so I just go and enjoy myself . On my last trip I fished the Strawberry Hill pond where the Forest keepers are trying their little crucian experiment (you mention it on the site). It's no fishing but a fellow angler had claimed that fishing was now allowed. I managed 6 lovely little crucian before one of the keepers arrived to tell me that the pond was still no fishing.
I'll be happy fishing these ponds for the next few years for crucian and tench and perhaps a larger one will succumb.
I like to think my late 80's cru was a true one but there was no debate back then, a crucian was a crucian. The photo I have is pretty poor but it is more like a true cru in recent pics I have seen than a goldfish.
Congrats again on a great web site
... I should get in a couple more trips to the Forest Ponds before the end of September so I'll keep you informed.
I think the Epping Ponds are quite well managed from a fisheries point of view. The Forest keepers have removed a lot of the bigger carp from the ponds mainly because of the damage they do rooting around when there are a lot of then, also to discourage poaching for food, night fishing and to get the species balance right. As long as they stock with crucian's and tench I'll be happy.
One thing I am thinking of doing next trip is changing floats, I've been using a small loaded crystal insert waggler and I think I've been missing bites when they are just slight movements of the float. I may change to a pole float or just start hitting every movement.
Mark Wintle wrote:
22nd July 2011
Crucians - Native or Introduced?
The problem is that no-one knows for sure whether crucians are an introduced species - probably in the 18th century - or a native one that got here long before via the Greater Rhine system that rivers like the Thames and Trent once drained into (how we got silver bream, barbel etc.), or even was imported by the Romans.
Previous to the 18th century, fish identification was good for species like trout and pike but likely to be poor for crucians, which could have been mistaken for very small carp. There is a strong possibility that crucians were brought in with the large quantities of gold fish imported from circa 1700 onwards. Conversely, the Romans might have brought crucians here - they are one of the hardiest of fish, and could have survived transport here across Europe. Even archaeological remains won't tell us for sure which of these two latter theories is correct.
This problem is not insolvable. The way to crack it would involve extensive DNA testing of populations across Europe, using significantly more markers ('alleles') than required to simply tell a crucian apart from a goldfish or hybrid. This way different races and the divergences of such races would emerge. Similar work is showing how humans colonised the British Isles, and giving a much better picture of where our ancestors came from, and may even solve the mysterious disappearance of the Neanderthals.
Sadly this project would struggle for funding as it would likely prove very expensive, needing as it would much testing from many locations. It's unlikely to ever happen.
Still, we can but dream...
William Wyatt emailed from Sweden, the land of the giant crucians...
Nobby Clark wrote about his Marsh Farm experiences
2nd July 2011
Hello again Peter, I hadn't forgotten your site and pop in there regularly, but I just haven't seen a crucian for ages!
I caught a lovely fish on luncheon meat, the first I have ever known to take this bait, of around 3 pounds in the margin of Hill Pond at Marsh Farm in May and that was my last one this year!
I have learned from speaking to others that they were not feeding during the dusk, but became absolutely voracious once it was fully dark, recklessly taking great balls of trout pellet paste with abandon.
Not very crucian like behaviour at all!
In just the last week they have started to feed during the dusk and one work-mate there has had some success with a 'carrot' shaped pole float that accepts a night light tip. He overshots the rig with number 8 Stotz near the hook and plumbs to have the float tip just under the water and has been getting consistent lift bites this way as well as sail-away takes too. He thinks the Stotz are acting like a mini-bolt rig.
Well, what do you expect from a carp angler?
It's an interesting approach to use a number of small shot rather than one larger one, but it might just be the reason for his success.
He's actually fishing this on a running line from a rod, rather than a pole.
I did much the same myself after chasing the crucians a couple of years ago, setting the float under the water, choosing carrot shaped floats and shotting them down to nothing, convinced crucians are the cleverest fish on the planet.
I can't say it singled them out any more than any other fish, I can't say I suddenly caught more of them, but I did convince myself they would play with a bait to see if it suddenly whisked away before committing to eat it.
Or it could have been the gudgeon mucking me about!
Very best wishes and good fishing,
PS: Some nice fish came out today at Marsh Farm in the heat of the midday Sun , on pegs I have regularly fished recently....I can only conclude that crucians don't like me. But they are certainly hungry this week.
Kane wrote about "crucians" in a Manchester pond
5th July 2011
Hi Peter just found your website and found it very interesting. I have fished a small local pond here in Manchester for about 10yrs which has a high population of Crucians and Bream with smaller populations of Tench, Roach, Perch, Gudgeon and about a dozen commons, recently it has also been stocked with a number of F1's. Crucians and Tench are my fish of choice and are the ones in the pond that both my son (Dan 13) and i target, most other anglers on the pond though, seem quite happy with just bagging up with the bream. After some of our fishing trips we think we have cracked it catching Crucians one after the other with a fish every other minute, but alas no. After most trips like alot of other people we are left frustrated and are dumbfounded that two people can miss so many bites. Do you strike when it lifts, when it dips, when it moves from side to side sometimes it doesn't seem to matter and instead of playing a fish its more likely their playing with us. Both our setups are the same 12' match rod 3lb line small quill with one no 4 shot two inch from a 18's hook. With only a couple of mm float showing and depth set either plumb or an inch or two short using all the normal baits. Found your website while trying to find more information and tips on how to catch Crucians. While i know i will always have frustrating days will be happy just to reduce the number of them, have also just ordered your book in my quest for more knowledge. I have yet to catch a Crucian over 2lb but unfortunately for me last year my son caught one at 2lb8 the swine or did he will attach picture. Would be a shame to tell him it was a hybrid.........
Steven Angus, a Brit in Denmark, wrote about his fascinating project to introduce crucians to a 50-acre lake, transferring small fish from a "sump pond".
He started off by catching on rod and line but, as I know from experience, this can become too time-consuming. I suggested to him that he make up a simple trap, as I explained in "Crock of Gold". He has not looked back since! He now has crucians in four - yes, four! - waters ranging in size from a pond of about 30m diameter to a big lake of something over 50 acres.
Scale counts, the results of his dissection of several fish, and their general appearance suggest that they are stunted crucians. In Scandinavia, we know that there are huge lakes with plenty of other species including predators that produce very, very big crucians. There are also ponds, mainly in extensive woodland, where nothing but crucians can survive and there they exist in huge numbers. They breed every year and become stunted and in-bred. It will be fascinating to see how these fish develop in bigger waters with room and good food supplies.
Don't forget that to use a trap like this and move fish in the UK you need E.A. permission.
11th July 2011
I live in Denmark and live besides a very large but only 3 or 4 metre deep lake, the size of about 50 football pitches, (Bagsværd). As far as I know (I am only a part time coarse fisher), the lake has a poor circulation of water which takes 5 yrs instead of 2 for ideal conditions. There is a huge amount of roach/rudd/bream and loj (a type of thin long roach with black fins, a small and very silvery fish). There are pike and perch, with reports inbetween of some fair sizes caught although these are rare as are reports of zander which I have never seen or one or two specimen carp, with no population of small carp (also rare).
The predatory population general appears very low. The lake generally is very rarely fished seriously and there are no motor boats allowed on the lake, only international rowing. The water in the summer is often affected by green algae, although I regard the lake which has a firm bottom almost gravel as relatively "clean" and have swam in it. There are bulrush type reed beds all the way around the lake and in a few places a few yellow flowered lily beds.
With this background information could you give me any tips on the chances of 64 rod caught crucians from another local very small very poor oxygenated black sump pond of surviving, I spread them out in small groups of 12, 18, 22, 12 over a 600 metre length of a bay on the North side of the Bagsværd large lake. How often do they breed, how many might survive to adult hood. The crucian I released varied in size from 10 to 15 cm and one or two 20 cm one example was even bigger. I would be interested in buying your book if you can find the time to give me a few answers to get me on the hook so to say.
The crucians I caught and re-released , have as far as I know no competition in their original home and are very dark brown/black on the back with a dark head and eyes and large rounded fins, the flanks are a rich golden /copper colour and the fins are brown and rounded...I will count the scales next time? The water they came from was an almost black water with black dead leaves on the bottom, but a bucket of water give a more dark iron colour which might explain their dark appearance. I'm sure the small lake had never been fished before, they hopped on to a maggot bait, and weren't shy at all as I have heard described.
The presence of Perch and Pike in the big lake is a concern, but they are surprisingly few and small for such a large lake. The few who fish the big lake usually go after the Pike and Perch though there are not many success stories on this lake. This year mysteriously enough there is a huge amount of visible weed in large patches around the lake, which can only be good I presume. I think if I could release 500 they would have a good chance, if I concentrate distribution to the one bay on the North side...any tips on distribution?
I would expect there would also be tench in the big lake but in ten years I have not heard of any one catching one or any noticeable carp , only a few large ones probably released into the lake by specimen types and not native to the lake.... mysterious because it looks perfect.
2nd August 2011
My enthusiasm for my project to stock the local large Bagsværd lake with Crucians from a nearby sump water apparently full of them has not diminished despite the only swim I could come to beginning to be more difficult to fish. Not least of all because the crucians have begun be very shy to take the bait as cleanly as before, plus the weather has been very bad. However I have now captured and re-released 101 into the big lake and 10 more in to a small pond the size of ½ a tennis court with a horse shoe of reeds on three sides and a willow tree giving access to the other side. This more cultivated pond appears very clean and empty of fish, although ducks are happy to swim around and a moor hen. I will use it as a staging post, to give the fish a chance to grow, after you told me I risk losing 90% of the re-stocked crucians in the big lake and it will be difficult to rod catch 500 crucians to re-release them, although i think I have found another sump water backing up to some private houses which also seem to have a healthy population of fish, hopefully crucians... I will find out this evening.
(It took me an hour to hack out a swim to come to the lake on the opposite side to the 3 houses whose gardens back on to this very small lake)
Back to my Nursery pond. Would it be smart to release a couple of small perch into the little pond, so that the crucians develop the hunched back they seem to lack at the moment. They can almost appear tench like as they are now.
What would the ratio of predatory fish be to crucians for them to develop this hunched back defensive mechanism? Or should i just drop the idea of the perch and just leave them undisturbed for the next 3 or 4 years.. I plan to add another 20 crucians first to this nursery pond. As I examine the local area, I can see there are several possibilities with local waters as nobody is at all serious about fishing here.
3rd August 2011
Hi, Steven. Thanks for getting in touch again. I don't think that there's any point in adding perch to your nursery pond. That will cut down on the number of crucians available for stocking because of the increase in predation. Also, the perch will almost certainly breed well and their fry will also compete with your young crucians for the available food supply.
The crucians that survive the bigger predators in your main lake will almost certainly become higher backed anyway and I doubt whether you could give them much added protection by adding predators earlier.
Why not try trapping your small crucians? I explain in the book how this can be done. It worked well in my small field ponds. Rod and line cropping is fun to begin with but can become more difficult and is certainly time-consuming.
Scale count sounds fine. If you can send me a clear picture, I can do a check for you.
It sounds to me as if you have a marvellous opportunity to produce some worthwhile crucian fishing but don't expect it to be easy or a quick fix so don't get discouraged. If you could build up a number of nursery ponds that would make things a lot easier, especially if you can work out a better way of catching the tiddlers. If you need more tips on the trapping system, I'll be pleased to help.
10th August 2011
You may need to experiment with the best size for the funnel end - ie the bit that sticks inside the trap. Too big and the fish may well find a way out. I sliced or broke up my bread rather than using a whole loaf. You may also need to try different spots to get the best return.
I await your report with interest!
I was glad to hear the detail about putting a weight on the side that the fish trap should rest on. A solid loaf of bread would take longer to disperse, I imagine. Should it be tied to the bottom side of the fish trap along side the weight that holds it down in position or just free to move around. What is your experience with baiting the trap?
P.S. Loving the book already and very nicely presented. There is a small boy in all of us itching to get out and I am encouraged by your enthusiasm.
11th August 2011
What is your experience of how far a shoal of crucians will travel in a day? And do they patrol an area and come back regular to the same place, or are they eternally wondering from place to place...if you know? I don't imagine you swim around with a snorkel and wet suit on...but it wouldn't totally shock me if you did!
I don't think there's an easy answer to that one, Steven. It does depend on how much they're fished for, whether there are predators in the water - and probably other factors we're not aware of. In tiny field ponds here they seem to wander, grazing the bottom as they go. In bigger waters without predators they can be caught in the open water, though lily beds and overhanging trees still seem to have resident fish. Where there are pike and perch, etc, they hug cover, sometimes foraging in darkness - because of course the food supplies in just a few square metres are limited so they have to come out sometimes. The same applies to well-fished waters - the fish try to hide and feed less and less at traditional times.
The experts of old will tell you that they are "lazy" fish or "sluggards" that tend to stay in one area and I would agree that this is often the case. They will often be in very shallow water, barely deep enough to cover their backs, and very close to the bank too.
Don't worry about sending questions - I'm always happy to talk crucians.
14th August 2011
I was forced to bring my fish trapping plans forward as the Mrs wants to use the car at the weekend to visit her mother. This meant that I had to scramble quickly to finish at least one of my fish traps and bring operation "Crock Of Gold" forward a day. Most events went to plan but any calm thoughts of videoing events chronologically disappeared as the adrenalin kicked in. With my son I was able to place with a good cast my trap at 22.30 exactly where it should be and tied it off to a tree in the pitch black.
I didn't sleep much but I had to wake my son at exactly 05.00 and at exactly 05.30 I was hauling in my catch concerned that my fish trap was sitting at an acute angle with the back end just breaking the surface. What had gone wrong? Nothing.!
There was an explosion of activity as it broke the surface.
Leaving the best to last I coolly decided to transport this haul and open it up and count them as I re-released them again in my main lake. In and out so to speak, so we would not bring attention to ourselves late at night and early morning. How many?. not 5 or 6 and not 350 as you have experienced but a fantastic 190 exactly.
About 10 were undersized for release but went in anyway. The rest were very good and mostly uniform in size with a few plumpish ones, which managed to get through the 6 ½ cm hole. There were no other fish types caught. I was left wondering what an ½ hour earlier setting of the trap and an ½ hour later of hauling it in might have yielded ... could I smash your record of 350? We will find out next week!
I released them in my bay and with the others released in this part of the lake that brings my total up to 290 here with 12 more at another place than my preferred bay and 33 in another small pond.
As a footnote there was noticeable Crucian-type activity before and after the release of this 190 fish haul on the lake, which normally is very quiet on the surface. Small dark heads where rising after small flies left and right of my release place all within a 50 metre radius, very encouraging indeed .. but also a violent splash in the reeds which suggested a pike was already having an early morning breakfast on dazed crucians ...What a start to the day!
There followed some more emails describing Steven's trapping experiences and his discovering new ponds in his area. He has also been researching the history of these ponds.
8th September 2011
So now I have 4 fisheries all producing. I have removed 810 fish from my Source Pond restocking my main lake, "Bagsværd", also my 80 metre lake "Store Kobberdam" and my 30 metre nursery. There are 640 fish in my main lake, 45 in my nursery and 125 in my 80 metre lake. Total success with this project in the first season and very satisfying.
I have also made initial contact with Denmark's nature society and suggested that I can get rid of some of their roach, bream and rudd if I am allowed "legally" to stock with Crucians into Bagsværd Lake. They are seeking advice on this,, and I am looking forward to their reply.
14th September 2011
The more I dig in to the local history, it is unavoidable to accept anything other than a German princess who became a Danish Queen. Queen Charlotte Amalie 1670 had an "huge" impact on the import (and possibly export) and breeding of "Karp" and "Karuse" ... Carp and Crucians respectively. There is a huge amount of evidence that trade with Africa, the West indies and especially Asia was well established. The wealth of the area I live in is built on that trade.
Queen Charlotte Amalie established not a few but very many "karpe" and "Karuse" dams, in my area, some of these i am exploring now with my project ... The most now are owned by the local authorities and some are private.
This Queen quiet simply ran it all as a business and the fish were for eating! Different forms of "Karpe" were very popular in a time of very extravagant living. She was described as very busy and ambitious in this project. I have also found a reference to this period that it was fashionable to have them in the garden pond (and more than likely in a glass bowl). Every person of substance should have them.
It was eventually sea fishing which saw an end to this era which was well established for over 100 yrs In the Royal household.
After my latest dissection, I decided to deep fry the Crucian in batter, "fish and chip style" It tasted good but the fish would have to be 20 cm plus in length and fattened up to be worthwhile eating ... It was hard work ! but if a household servant would prepare it for me, then the meat would taste good, and is firm and a little bit sweet. It would take time and patience to prepare as an eating fish ... but why not! In King Kristan and Queen Charlotte Amalie's time extravagance was everything. I'm not in doubt that if one Monarchs household bred "Karuse" then others would have followed the fashion.
Other routes in to the British Isles are surely also possible throughout history, but this part of the puzzle i don't think can be ignored for re-generating interest in the crucian, its origins and various strains.
A DNA test on one of these local Danish "Crucians" could be interesting compared to strains in England. The fear of course is that Queen Charlotte Amalie also introduced a culture of hybrids. For example the apparent thriving "Silver Crucians" which another source says come from "Carassius auratus" and could possibly be a super hybrid. If I had to guess a goldfish (natural) x Carp or F1.
What are the possibilities, Peter of a Goldfish x Rudd or Goldfish Silver bream? That might explain a Silver Crucians appearance. There is a picture on your web site if I remember correctly of a hybrid that instantly reminded me of a picture of a Silver Crucian I have seen here.
Now you know what I'm doing in the close season ... the weather is already very autumn-like over here, with the sun just poking its nose out now and again.
24th June 2011
I'm new to fishing so am currently using the 'net to try to ID my catches. This one looks very much like the first specimen on your Common Carp x Goldfish hybrid page. Can you confirm if that's a correct ID please?
It seems that goldfish are the villains even as far away as New Zealand, as this email from Jock Corran reveals. I've sub-edited it slightly but it very clearly underlines the dangers of unregulated stocking - and it is happening here.
15th May 2011
I found your site the other day. As you see I am in NZ, We have many ponds, dams, lakes, etc in NZ, with goldfish crossed with many other smaller and larger members of their family...cruccies x gold fish, x prussian, x old wild carp. The koi have found their way into many waters all over the country. In some places, they are almost pure to the breed but get fused with g/fish, etc.
The old wild carp was brought to the Canterbury area over 150 years ago but was quickly crossed with Prussians, possibly crucians, then later goldfish. Some of these fish were moved, then the same happened all over again. 30 odd years ago koi arrived in NZ. They spread over the top of NZ and are still spreading. I fish in Nelson and I fish for goldfish. The ponds number in the 1000s here. Many of the fish I catch show all breeds, yes also the crucian. It would be hard to tell at times, unless you opened them up, but it appears that if goldfish are in the water with others of the tribe, then goldfish will in the end out-breed the others as goldfish quickly revert back to their wild roots. In a few breeding years, colour, shape and size are gone odd. Throwbacks do appear now and then but in a few years they are as mixed up as in their wild past, with all the habits of their breeds. I catch 1000s of them every year. I fish every day. I prefer them to the tench, rudd, perch, etc which we have, as they can be tough little b-rs to catch at times - and if you're a crucian fisher you will know that.
It will be very hard to keep the true crucian breed in the UK. Over time, the movement of fish around ponds etc. will mean that wild goldfish will start to show up every where and it's already getting hard to tell them from crucians, so much so that the Dept of Conservation in NZ believed that they had a new breed of carp in NZ. As records of fish brought to NZ are very shady it's really hard to know what was brought in....
Crucians are for those who love fishing in the peace and quiet of the pond. I fish all year for them. In the winter it can be very slow and painful. It is easier to have your teeth pulled at times but they do bite and two a day is a large bag. In summer, well like most fishing, it is easier...
The following correspondence, from Helene, raises the long-debated issue of whether the crucian is native to this country - as well as whether it's edible! I've yet to see convincing evidence that the crucian was in this country before about 1720. However, we've been promised a paper from Gordon Copp and a fish archaeologist on this very subject, which I personally await with interest.
It occurred to me that there must be many National Trust lakes and ponds suitable for crucians. Has anyone any contacts?
1st April 2011
I am researching the history of fish and fishponds for a book on the self-sufficiency of the country estate. I have come across a reference to a fish called a 'cruzer' in the Diary of Parson Woodforde.
The reference comes from 1778 when fishing in a friend's pond near Norwich in Norfolk. 'we caught vast Quantities of Fish, called Cruzers, they are a very beautiful fish of a yellow hue but not very large, almost all the same size.' He also mentions tench, pike and carp so it is not those. For dinner he had 'Cruzers Fryed which were very good indeed.'
I have not as yet been able to positively identify the fish. I have asked a Norfolk angler if he recognises the name, as it could be regional, but he didn't know, and have even tried the fish expert at the Natural History Museum who has so far drawn a blank. However, an angling acquaintance suggested it might be a crucian carp (I think he said he called them cruzzers?) As you have written a book on this fish, (which unfortunately I have not as yet been able to get hold of) I wonder if you have ever come across this term or can shed any light on the subject please.
I've not met the words "cruzer" or "cruzzer" but they seem not a million miles away from "crucian", which was known (according to Yarrell) as "crouger" in Warwickshire. It could easily be a local or anglers' slang name for crucian. We quite often call them "cruies".
"A yellow hue" would seem to narrow it down to crucians or goldfish, though the latter are often more red-gold than yellow-gold and in the wild usually revert to brown. Another clue lies in the "not very large" (appropriate to either fish): and yet another lies in the statement that they were "almost all the same size" - crucians of the same year class tend to swim together in shoals.
The only puzzling bit is that they were described as "very good indeed" when fried; their eating qualities were not esteemed, according to most authors. I haven't tried them! But, then, taste is subjective, I suppose. After all, Chaucer's Franklin had bream "in stew" and no-one would eat them now.
1778 ties in as a date. I think they were introduced as an ornamental fish at the beginning of the 18th century though some scientists believe the crucian to be native. As far as I could discover, the fish is described only as an introduced fish in the literature. Ray lists it as a foreign fish and it is not translated into English in Willoughby, though fish like pike and roach and tench certainly are, which suggests that it was not regarded as belonging here.
I don't think that anyone would stock with crucians for food, Helene. Why should they when the common carp grows much faster and tastes much better, not to mention pike and perch and trout. Land owners interested in fish certainly stocked them as desirable ornamentals, though. (see Houghton) The history of the goldfish and the crucian in this country is complicated by their enthusiasm for hybridising, incidentally.
I do go into quite a lot of detail about the history of the crucian and its place in literature in "Crock of Gold - Seeking the Crucian Carp". I think you can still get it on Amazon or from the publisher MPress (Media) Ltd on 0845 408 2606.
Your projected book sounds really interesting. Please let me know if I can help further. I've restored several Victorian estate lakes here.
Best wishes and good luck with the research.
Thank you Peter, that is really helpful. It seems most likely a cruzer must be a crucian carp. (I'm sure my friend said cruies after all, not cruzzers as I said before) I will also try the Norwich Museum (I think they have a good Natural History department there) to see if they have any references to it. Perhaps it wasn't especially recommended for eating, I have not come across it in the old recipe books, besides, the Parson seems to be something of a glutton anyway. He does not seem familiar with cruzers before he caught them in Mr Howes pond, (Howe gives him 50 brace of cruzer in exchange for 20 brace of stock Tench - happy to get rid of them by the sounds of it!). I have not come across cruzers or crucian carp in any of my research on fishponds as yet. Izaak Walton does not mention them, he would be a bit early if they were introduced at the beginning of the 18th century, nor does the Norfolk landowner Roger North in his Discourse on Fish and Fishponds (1713), again reinforcing the fact that they were not yet introduced.
Thanks again for taking the time to help with my query. I shall let you know if I find out anything else to positively identify them.
(An angling friend suggested they might be golden tench)
2nd April 2011
Golden tench? Very unlikely because it's even now quite rare and unlikely to be found in numbers. I'm not quite sure of its introduction date but although it is mentioned in Victorian fish literature it is as a curiosity, not an established variety. Incidentally, I've just remembered that Pennant 1766 (first mention of the fish as existing here that I could find) called the crucian, "crusian" in "British Zoology". Brooks, in 1799, called it "crussian". "Carussian" was another name variation, so your parson's "cruzer" doesn't seem so eccentric.
At the beginning of March 2011 I was asked by "Angler's Mail" to give my opinion on Dave Harpin's super "record crucian" caught at Gold Valley. I was correctly quoted as thinking that it was possibly (nb the doubt!) a crucian x goldfish hybrid. Nigel Hewlett, a well-known scientist advising the BRFC, had already come to the same conclusion. However, in "Angling Times" Keith Arthur said that he thought that it was a genuine crucian, finding similarities between it and illustrations in Crock of Gold - Seeking the Crucian Carp, which prompted me to email him. Keith sent me the available photos, only one of which I had previously seen. You may find our email conversation interesting. This event is a very good example of how important it is in the case of a potential record to have good photographs.
Hopefully this fish will be caught again and someone will send a scale to the BRFC for DNA verification - a simple enough thing to do. Then we shall know for certain.
3rd March 2011
Keith, good evening! I read your column in AT with interest. You're going to get lots of opinions, very few of which will be based on experience or knowledge. That doesn't matter a lot - we're all entitled to our opinions. However, could you please make a couple of points for me.
(a) Actually I DON'T disagree with Nigel Hewlett. To me too it does look like a crucian x goldfish hybrid. My reasons were that the lat line count looked low (as far as I could see) and that the lower fins looked pale rather than orange or dark tipped (but printing can do funny things to colour). What little I could make out of the dorsal fin suggested that it was not the right shape. But really the photo just isn't good enough. Today, anyone can take good identification pics if only they would bother to find out how. Crucians need to be photographed in a very special way and I try to describe this in the book.
(b) In fact, looking at the fish that Martin is holding, with me looking on, I couldn't confidently say that it is a crucian, for the very same reasons - even though I know it came from a lake where the stock has been DNA verified.
(b) Nigel Hewlett perhaps saw a different photo. The point about the tail fin is that it is straight or only slightly forked when EXTENDED. This is seldom if ever clear on a trophy shot.
(c) If this is a known fish there is a very easy way to be sure whether or not it is a crucian: a fin clip or scale can be sent in ethanol to the BRFC for DNA testing. Then everyone would know for certain. I believe that scientists, naturalists and anglers should work together to establish what a crucian actually is. One reason I wrote the book was to try to break down some of the barriers between us. I hope that the publicity you have kindly given the subject will help to do that. Also, it would be very helpful to stress the need to take photographs in the way described in "Crock of Gold".
I'm looking forward to sharing a day on the Saxon Ponds with you and your camera man/woman when the sun shines and the sedges grow!
Hi Peter and thanks for your interest. I've not seen this week's AT as I'm on holiday - awaiting boarding to Heathrow right now - but I wrote in the original copy supplied that it was a poor photo.
I'm certain, if you saw the fish in the flesh, that you would concur that it's a 'right one'. I have nowhere near your experience but I've seen a few crucians over the years and, as I said, if it's a wrong'un, so are Marsh Farm's fish because, to me at least, they are identical.
I will ask John Raison to try and get a clip from the fish, although Duncan Charman said he's going to go and catch it! And he just might.
Looking forward to meeting over a crucian or two.
Thanks, Keith. Did you do a lat line scale count when you saw the fish? Do persuade any captor to take the photos indicated in the book. Trophy shots are usually useless.
4th March 2011
No, I've never done anything 'technical' such as scale counts, but I've been catching 'Surrey Crucians' since the early 1970s and, as I say, if this one isn't one, nor are any of the Witley Park crucians I caught because they are identical - and they are the same as the Marsh Farm fish in every visible respect.
I'm sure if Mr Charman gets acquainted with the fish, he'll do the business with the pictures.
6th March 2011
Hi, Keith. I'm really not sure. I still make the lat line count 30/31, but the pic. just isn't clear enough to be certain. The weight-forward shape is a bit worrying too. The fin colours look ok in these shots - I thought the under-fins pale in the first one I was shown.
It all goes to show how difficult it all is, especially when the photos aren't aimed at illustrating the identifying features.
Counting the lat. line scales isn't difficult and low numbers do give a clue as to whether it's a crucian or not - though nature always throws up exceptions, as we all know. The Marsh Farm fish that I have seen have 32 - 34 along that line, as have ours, the Swedish giants and the Yateley crucians. This one may have, too, but I just can't be sure. What do you think?
It'll no doubt be caught again. When it is, we need sharper, better directed pics. and a scale for DNA testing. I've been told on good authority that a scale is robust enough not to need ethanol. Just put it in a hook packet and send it off to the committee. Taking off a shoulder scale won't hurt the fish, as long as Tom, Dick and Harry don't all do it!
The fishery owner is mistaken in thinking that a fish has to be killed in order to be authenticated - in fact that might well invalidate a claim altogether because no-one wants to encourage killing what might be an important specimen.
So, to sum up, I don't know - but there is a way of finding out for certain via DNA.
Finally, I'm not an expert on crucians - just a student!
The ponds here are looking in great shape at the moment, especially with today's drop of sunlight, and my crus. are waiting to meet you. How far in advance of the programme do you need to fish?
Let's hope Duncan Charman makes it all work! It's the first time I've seen that shot with you and Martin. Gosh, that tail looks floppy for a true cru, as does the one held by Alan Stagg in your book! You may be a 'student' but you've studied an awful lot...I make the lat count at least 31, could be 32. As you say, it isn't 100% clear. I have no axe to grind, by the way, just a gut feeling that all the Gold Valley fish I've caught since it opened in 1992 (none were stocked by the current owners; all were original fish from its fly fishery/water park/gravel pit days) and also Willow Park, that I've always called crucians were 'proper'. Lord knows I've seen enough hybrids since.
I'm sure John Raison knows a fish needn't be killed but he does like to get extreme at times - typical Spurs fan!
When would be a good time for you to film? We can get a film turned around in 2 days if need be, certainly in a week, or save it for as long as required so it is your call entirely. Tuesday or Wednesday are best days for us.
Maybe I'll have to get to Gold Valley myself and have a crucian campaign. I can't think how many carp I'll get interfered with though.
Thanks again for your interest.
8th March 2011
Yes, Keith, I certainly wouldn't like to confirm Martin's fish as a true crucian from that photo - it's not one I would have chosen to illustrate the point! Though it is from a lake where all the samples taken were DNA confirmed. I'll show you the pics of those, if you like - you'll find them very interesting, I think. Alan's fish in the book were from Marsh Farm and Summer Pit.
As you say, after handling hundreds of crucians, you get a feel for what is "right" and what is a ringer, but I still have moments of uncertainty even now. For example we netted a lake on Sunday and found half a dozen 8" fish that were definitely different from what we recognised as the true cru line. For the life of me, though, looking at the photos later I couldn't fault a couple of them them on meristics alone - ie lat line, dorsal and tail fin shapes, lower fin colour. It seems like a case of "The more you think you know the less you really know!" That's why I describe myself as a student, not an expert!
The history of the crucian in this country, particularly the fact that it's been in the company of goldfish and carp for far longer than people have realised - which suggests the likelihood of back-crossing over centuries - raises all sorts of interesting possibilities.
I find the whole thing fascinating and am resolved to keep plugging away at it until I go gaga. When you come here, I'll fill you in with what I'm experimenting on at the moment.
Re the fishing, I suggest the Tuesday 24th May, - that's if the programme is going out on 16th. That gives time for the bank to recover before my anglers arrive on 16th and possibly gives us another week if we have to postpone because of bad weather. How does that sound?
I regularly correspond with a friend in New Zealand and, although this conversation doesn't have much to do with crucians it's interesting about the consequences of introducing exotic fish. Michael fishes lakes in the North Island for tench (yes it's an "exotic" in NZ!) and also catches koi carp and the ubiquitous goldfish, as well as perch and rainbow trout. None of these is native to New Zealand. This is a conversation we had earlier in the year, just before and after Mike had caught a fish that looked very much like a common carp in his local lake. The puzzle is that there are apparently no common carp in NZ, just koi.
17th January 2011
I've never caught a goldfish that looks like what you might buy in a pet shop. All of them this season have bronzy coloured, although some have been lighter and others darker. Goldfish used to be a great rarity at the lake, at least in anglers' catches, but this season I've caught at least one on each of the last six sessions. I can't think of a satisfactory explanation for this: perhaps the lake water is warmer than average, encouraging them to feed more readily; or maybe there was a good spawning year a few years ago I've heard that they do grow to a good size in the wild, but I've never had one much above a pound.
Yes, there are big eels in the lake. The problem in catching them is that there are many more small ones. Getting the hook back is also a bit of a problem too! Andy had a really big one attack his keepnet in a match a few years ago.
My first go at the grass carp was thwarted by a persistent duck in the very shallow water, but I'm not giving up that easily - watch this space!
Gladys and I are planning our UK trip at the moment. Would it be possible for me to visit you for a few days in the first week in July?
6th February 2011
I'm attaching another sets of angling diary notes, plus a photo of an unusual fish I caught today at the lake It looks to me very much like a carp, but I suspect you're going to tell me that it is a koi/goldfish hybrid! It had a full set of four barbules, and a lateral line scale tally of 34 by my count.
We're in the process of finalising our holiday itinerary, and I am wondering whether I could come down on the afternoon of Monday 4th July, and leave in the morning of Saturday 9th July. I'd be coming by train to *****, and leaving the same way. Please let me know if this is okay.
I do enjoy reading about your tench-fishing exploits, especially in the depths of winter here! You are enjoying good sport! Yes I think you're right about the fish. Apart from the low lat line count the barbules look rather small, which would be typical of the hybrid. It's not clear-cut, though - the shape and general appearance are very common carp-like. Colour can be variable in carp as in crucians but given the other clues, I think a hybrid is the likeliest identity. Handsome fish, though.
July is fine. It's in the diary and I'm already looking forward to your arrival.
8th February 2011
Thanks, Peter. I wonder whether it could be an example of a back-cross, of the sort you write about in your book? This has really been my first contact with hybrid fish in many years - probably since the rudd/bream hybrids in Ireland - and I'm beginning to understand your fascination with them. I recall that Richard Walker in "Stillwater Angling" maintained that hybrids were infertile, but it seems that that is no longer regarded as being correct. Presumably, it is possible to get fish that are, say, three-quarters carp and one-quarter goldfish.
Mike, yes - hybrids have been found with milt or eggs, which is one of the serious concerns about the survival of pure crucian stock. F1s are common enough and your koi(?) X goldfish(?) specimen could be one of those, with a scale count sort of half-way between carp and goldfish. Back-crossing between hybrid and species is, I've read, more likely than hybrid x hybrid. In either case it's the survival of the offspring that is the issue. Nature being endlessly inventive, I can't believe that it doesn't sometimes happen and that makes a 75% goldfish or crucian a possibility. Indeed the DNA research of Bernt Haenfling and co did find examples. That raises the question about whether those double hybrids are capable of successful reproduction - the mind boggles!
I've often half-questioned the validity of some of the Pythouse crucians, because sometimes they look carp-like in body shape - but such fish were DNA tested and confirmed as tru crus. DNA testing, so far, can detect hybrids and first generation back-crosses - but supposing the original mix was, say, ten generations ago...what then?
I feel that if a population of fish in a particular pond is free-breeding and if the offspring show consistency of form then you're dealing with a species and not hybrids. But there's a nagging thought that, way back, crucian x goldfish or crucian x carp somehow resulted in a new species, capable of successful breeding but in fact different from carp, crucian or goldfish and that that is the explanation for the two distinct forms of crucian in the country, rather than just environmental factors.
Yes, it's interesting alright - but I think we ordinary mortals can be forgiven for being confused! Are there parallels in other animal species, I wonder. Are there other creatures whose method of reproduction is as open to hybridisation as that of fish, which scatter eggs and milt almost at random?
28th February 2011
...The goldfish interest me because I read a comment in an early fishing book (whilst doing my crucian research) that suggested that crucian carp had been introduced into New Zealand in the 19th century. I wonder if that was yet another case of mistaken identity, with brown goldfish being the world traveller, not crucians at all. I suppose, though, that your local fish could be the result of pet fish being liberated. Are goldfish sold as pets in NZ?