From the Fisherman's Angle

Anglers often notice things about fish that scientists and naturalists miss. Please contact me with details of any crucian behaviour that you think might be unusual or remarkable. In that way we can perhaps add to the general understanding about this fish.

For example, if this winter proves to be really severe we may find crucians surviving where other fish die from winter kill. If you have first hand experience of this please let me know.

Another example: do crucians live and thrive only in still water? - if you know where they can be caught from a river, please tell. What about canals? - do any hold crucians?

How common is it that crucians feed at night?

Have you watched them spawning? - how did they behave? When did spawning begin? Did it happen just the once or was it repeated throughout the summer?

It's often stated that crucians don't feed in winter. You'll often read that that they "hibernate" "in the mud". Our experience here suggests that's not always so and that they can be caught, mainly after dark, way into the winter, like carp. Have you found the same?

Crucians often feed in very shallow water. Do you have any experience of that?

Can you suggest why crucians "roll" on the surface - can you tie it in with feeding, for example?

Do the crucian shoals consist of fish of about the same size, or are they of mixed sizes?

Do crucians feed with other species so that you end up with a mixed bag? Or do other fish crowd them out - or vice versa?

Have you noticed shape changes in your crucians over the years? Any suggestions why? Can this be linked to predators being added to your lake or pond, for example?

4th September 2011

These two photos show very well how a fish's environment can affect its colour. Martin Bowler's beautiful big crucian is from a clear and weedy lake; Dave Redwood's from a muddy commercial pool.

Martin Bowler's Crucian Carp Dave Redwood's Crucian Carp

23rd August 2011

Mark Wintle sent this up-date on his aquarium crucians.

I've noticed that the crucians have been pulling off the leaves on the plastic plants in the aquarium. As replacement plastic plants cost 8 each, I gathered a big handful of willow moss, Canadian pondweed and hornwort when out fishing, washed it, and placed it in the aquarium. The crucians love it. They chew on it, burrow into in it and look for food underneath it. It also seems to have improved the water quality in the tank, and the crucians seem more active as a result. They've grown tame enough to nibble on my fingers when I feed them.

So, aquarium crucians do eat plants. Do they in the wild, too? And they are tameable!

16th June 2011

Crucian Carp feeding

If many of the crucians in our swim feed like this, it's not surprising that the float does strange things. Photo by Mark Wintle.

JAA(JAA's Fisher King) - I agree, I've seen my crucian in a tank do the same and so fish a modified lift rig with a no. 8 'tell tale' and a very light float, which has a very thin cane antennae. You see exactly that, a slight dip, which I take to be the fish's body pushing the line and then a lift. You wait for the lift...

13th June 2011

Mark Wintle sent me some observations on his aquarium crucians:

I've kept a 20 gallon aquarium for many years, and mostly kept goldfish. I've also had tiny tench and rudd in the tank, though no longer have them. When I helped do DNA testing on crucians I kept one of the fish in the tank to see how it recovered from scale removal and fin clipping.

Scales were replaced in about 6 weeks, and the fin re-grew in about 8 weeks though there was a slight scar. When that crucian died after about 2 years I got another one of similar size to keep the goldfish company. But eventually the goldfish died so Peter has kindly let me have three tiddler crucians to keep the other crucian company.

I love watching the crucians in the tank. They know how to 'beg' when hungry - they come to the front glass and shake their heads.

They feed in different ways. The original crucian went beyond vertical in feeding - the cause of crucians pushing the line to create finicky bites - but its replacement prefers to feed at about 40-50 degrees to horizontal. The replacement also prefers to feed moving upstream against the flow of the filter. This means that as he sucks up and spits out the aquarium gravel he slowly builds a sloping gravel bed. If I re-level the gravel he will put the slope back inside a couple of weeks. He isn't very big - maybe 5". He will also take food from my fingers, and will surface feed.

The newest arrivals are smaller - 3" fish. They are quicker off the mark at feeding time but the bigger one will push them out of the way, though they sometimes nip his tail in return. They also pick and blow the gravel but having smaller mouths can only pick up one stone rather that three or four at a time. They also feed at the same 40-50 degree angle, although one of them will feed vertically sometimes.

The filter is adjustable to change the flow. The crucians don't like flow at all so the filter is set to the minimum flow. If the flow is increased they find the quietest corner and sulk.

Before the introduction of the tiddlers there was a lot of silkweed on the plastic plants but the new fish have eaten all of the silkweed and pulled off many plastic leaves.

Mark told me on the phone that his crucians will often pick up a piece of food, lift slightly off-bottom and then remain in that one spot, chewing in the meantime. Translate that into fishing terms and it becomes a slight lift bite and then a motionless float. Quite often I've found that if I strike a second or two after that, I hook the fish, and we all know that it's quite common to hook into a crucian without having had a recognizable bite at all. Perhaps this is the reason why.

11th June 2011

After a heavy and prolonged shower, out came the sun and the crucians immediately began to rise - yes, rise - to a hatch of flies. They were definitely taking insects from the top and chasing nymphs sub-service. A one-off, I wonder?

22nd May 2011

A thought from Mark Wintle:

"A Dorset lake was stocked a decade ago with 100% mirror carp and genuine (DNA-tested) crucians. After 5 years the two species interbred and the resultant F1 hybrids are 100% fully scaled. Are there any known examples of F1 crucian x carp that are mirror-scaled?"

14th May 2011

I observed the following at the Wetland:

I thought that the pipe that carries the water from Pond 5 to Pond 6 (the one with small pike in) was not flowing properly. When I lifted up the screened end in Pond 5 I found crucians struggling to escape. They'd obviously swum up the pipe to get into Pond 5. There were 16 of them. Today there were another 12.

Out of curiosity I checked the feed between Pond 5 and Pond 4. On the first day I found just one rudd. Today, nothing.

So, what's the explanation? My current theory is that the crucians were anxious to escape the attentions of the pike in Pond 6. I know that something similar happened at a two-lake fishery near here, where the owner put crucians into a pike lake and found most of them in the eel-trap shortly afterwards, where they'd tried to escape from the lake. That was downstream; in my ponds the movement was upstream. But in my pond the downstream exit was screened so the fish had no option but to go into the pipe at the top of the pond.

Is this another example of how crucians can disappear from a water? Has anyone a similar experience? Please let me know.

8th May 2011

Mark Wintle sent me his thoughts on some of the above:

  • Most reports of winter kill last winter were carp.
  • I caught crucians (proper ones) from the Kennet and Avon Canal near Seend in 1990. I'm pretty sure they had been stocked along with numerous tench and carp not long before.
  • Four years ago - Jan to March - I fished a small still-water that was heavily stocked. It has carp, brown goldfish and crucians, as well as roach and perch. When the water temperature was below 10°C I could only get bites on maggots, and only from carp and goldfish (and roach). the bites were shy. Once the temperature reached 10°C I could catch crucians as well, and the bites were more positive. Furthermore I caught on small expander pellets once the temperature was 10°C or above. I fished this water every week to test out pole fishing methods so gained a good idea o what was happening. The crucians were only a few ounces as were the goldfish though the carp were up to 8lbs.
  • Crucians often feed very close in to the bank.
  • Rolling crucians was a very good sign preceding feeding crucians. I noticed this best at King Vincents.
  • I have had mixed sizes, anything from a few ounces to 2lbs plus in the same shoal.
  • On King Vincents the norm was this: a typical bag would be several carp to 12lbs, tench, plus crucians, roach and rudd. Sometimes I had brown goldfish but never a mixture of crucians and goldfish in the same session. At Park Lake at Todber the F1 and goldfish were separate from the crucians with the crucians much closer in to the bank.
  • King Vincents has very high backed crucians but no pike and few perch. It does have resident great crested grebes though.