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Common Bleak

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The common bleak is a small pelagic fish of the Cyprinid family. It is often referred to simply as a “bleak”, though this term can refer to any species of Alburnus.

The body of the bleak is elongated and flat. The head is pointed and the relatively small mouth is turned upwards. The anal fin is long and has 18 to 23 fin rays. The lateral line is complete. The bleak has a shiny silvery colour; and the fins are pointed and colourless. The maximum length is approximately 25 cm.

In Europe the bleak can easily be confused with many other species. In England, young bream and silver bream can be confused with young bleak, though the pointed upward turned mouth of the bleak is already distinctive at young stages. Young roach and ruffe have a wider body and a short anal fin.

The bleak occurs in Europe: in Western England, Southern Sweden, France and eastward toward the Volga Basin and North-Western Turkey.

It lives in great schools and feeds upon small molluscs, insects that fall in the water, insect larvae, worms, small shellfish and plant detritus. It is found in streams and lakes. The bleak prefers open waters and is found in large numbers where there is an inflow of food from pumping stations or behind weirs.