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Fishes

Of the 31 species of fish found in Armenia, six have been introduced. Common whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) was introduced into Lake Sevan from Lake Ladoga in Russia with a view to increasing commercial fish production and this was followed by goldfish (Carassius auratus) from eastern Asia. Fish farms are responsible for introducing silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) from China and Pacific salmon (Salmo gairdneri). Presumably Pacific salmon was preferred to the native Caspian salmon (S. caspius) because of the ease of obtaining stock. Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) came from China with the hope of improving water quality in irrigation systems and marshy lakes as it is herbivorous and so helps to control aquatic vegetation. By contrast mosquito fish (Gambusia ajfinis) was brought from the southeast part of the USA because, as its name implies, it eats mosquito larvae and hence assists in the control of malaria.

Apart from these exotics there has been some stocking of waters with common carp (Cyprinus carpio) which has been introduced to lakes in Lori province as well as Dilijan and Ijevan reservoirs. On the other hand, overfishing of rivers has led to a decline in the abundance of trout (Salmo trutta) and European catfish or wels (Silurus glanis). However, chub (Leusciscus cephalus) remains common in lakes. Drastic reduction in the water level of Lake Sevan has led to the virtual extinction in Armenia of the endemic Sevan trout (Salmo ischchan).

Paradoxically ils successful translocation into Lake Issyk-kul in Kyrgyzstan, although having negative consequences for the indigenous Issyk-kul fish fauna, has probably saved this fish from extinction. Stocks in Lake Sevan of Sevan khramulya (Varicorhinus capoeta) have also seriously declined but it survives in some of the lake's tributaries.


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