Common Bleak

Common Bleak
Common Bleak (Alburnus alburnus)

Worth knowing about the Common Bleak


The Common Bleak (Alburnus alburnus) belongs to the kingdom of animals, more specifically to the tribe Chordata. Here they are again subdivided into the class Actinopterygii, order of Cypriniformes, the family of Cyprinidae, subfamily Leuciscinae, genus Alburnus, and the species Alburnus alburnus.

This animal was first described in 1758 by the Swedish lord Linnaeus (a physician, zoologist, botanist, and geologist).

Common Bleak (Alburnus alburnus): Synonyms

Abramis alburnus, Alburnus acutus, Alburnus alborella, Alburnus alborella lateristriga, Alburnus alborella maxima, Alburnus alborellus maximus, Alburnus alburnus alborella, Alburnus alburnus alburnus, Alburnus alburnus charusini dagestanicus, Alburnus alburnus  hohenackeri kumbaschensis, Alburnus alburnus macedonicus, Alburnus alburnus strumicae, Alburnus alburnus thessalicus, Alburnus arquatus, Alburnus ausonii, Alburnus avola, Alburnus breviceps, Alburnus charusini, Alburnus fabraei, Alburnus fracchia, Alburnus gracilis, Alburnus linnei, Alburnus lucidus, Alburnus lucidus angustior, Alburnus lucidus colobocephala, Alburnus lucidus elata, Alburnus lucidus elongata, Alburnus lucidus ilmenensis, Alburnus lucidus lacustris, Alburnus lucidus latior, Alburnus lucidus macropterus, Alburnus lucidus oxycephala, Alburnus mirandella, Alburnus obtosus, Alburnus soranza, Alburnus soranzoides, Alburnus striatus, Alburnus strigio, Aspius alburnoides, Aspius alborella, Aspius ochodron,  Cyprinus albor, Cyprinus alburnus, Cyprinus lanceolatus, Leusiscus alburnellus, Leuciscus alburnus, Leuciscus dolabratus, Leusiscus lucidus ilmenensis


This fish is very easy to confuse with other species. For example, the Common Bleak strongly resembles a “common bream” or a “silver bream”. The only thing that can be clearly distinguished is their upward-facing mouth, which can be seen from an early age. A bream has a downward-facing mouth.

Common Bream
Common Bream (Owner: Микова Наталия –
Silver Bream
Silver Bream (Owner: Viridiflavus –

The Common Bleak is also much narrower than, say, the young ruffe and roach (these fish also have shorter anal fins).

Ruffe (Owner: Tiit Hunt –
Roach (Owner: Peter van der Sluijs –

The animal has a silvery color that shines. The fins have a pointed shape and are colorless. There is a dimple in the upper jaw.

A Common Bleak has a maximum length of 25 cm. On average, the length is about 15 cm. The (exceptionally) larger specimens can be found in Greece (Lake Volvi & Koroneia). There they can grow up to 30 cm long.

Actually, this fish belongs to the carp and lives in freshwater.

Wild Carp
Wild Carp

The Common Bleak’s scales contain many guanine crystals, which makes their bodies pearly in direct sunlight. Their scales come off quickly.

International names

  • Austria: Bleak, Laube, Ukelei
  • Belarus: Ukleika
  • Bulgaria: Ucleyka
  • China: 欧白鱼
  • Czechia: Bělice, Belicka, Bělička, Blýskavka, Ouklej obecná, Ouklejkaobecná, Úkleje
  • Denmark: Almindelig løje, Løje, Milling
  • Estonia: Bleak, Harilik Viidikas, Viidikas
  • Finland: Salakka
  • France: Ablé, Ablette, Blanchet, Bleue, Coureur, Garlesco, Laube, Mirandelle, Nablé, Nablo, Ravanesco, Sardine
  • Germany: Agoher, Agon, Agöne, Agune, Albala, Alve, Bestaller, Blacke, Bläke, Bläullg, Blieke, Blieken, Blinke, Butzli, Donaulauben, Gase, Grasle, Gris, Günger, Ikelei, Läge, Lang-Bleck, Langbleck, Laube, Lauben, Laubener, Lauber, Lauel, Lauge, Laugel, Laugele, Lauing, Laukel, Leiken, Maiblecken, Nestling, Ockelei, Okel, Pliete, Schaulaugeln, Schneider, Schneiderlein, Seelauben, Seeschiedl, Silberfisch, Silberling, Sonnenfisch, Sostknecht, Spitzlaube, Uekelei, Uklei, Wiek, Wietling, Windlauben, Winger, Zumpel
  • Greece: Sirko, Tsironi sirko, Γραμπίνια, Μπελοβίτσα, Μπίζι, Ουγλί, Πράσινη σαρδέλα, Σίρκο
  • Hungary: Szélhajtó küsz
  • Iran: Kuli Irani, Mahi Morvarid, Morvaridmahi, كولي ايراني , ماهي مرواريد, مرواريد ماهي
  • Italy: Alborella
  • Latvia: Ukleika, Vīķe
  • Lithuania: Paprastoji aukšlė
  • Netherlands: Alver
  • Norway: Laue, Løye
  • Poland: Ukleja
  • Portugal: Alburno, Ruivaca
  • Romania: Oblet, Obleţ şui
  • Russia: Bleak, Ukleika, Ukleya, Уклейка
  • Serbia: Plasica, Uklija, Ukljeva
  • Slovakia: Belicka obycajná, Zelenicka
  • Spain: Albur, Alburno
  • Sweden: Benlöja, Löja
  • Switzerland: Ablette, Laube, Ukelei
  • Turkey: Bleak, Inci baligi
  • UK: Bleak
  • UK Engld Wal: Gorwyniad
  • Ukraine: Ukleika
  • USA: Bleak

Photos of the Common Bleak (Alburnus alburnus)

(1) Alburnus
(1) Alburnus alburnus Hungary (Owner: Harka, Akos –
(2) Alburnus
(2) Alburnus alburnus Head (Owner: Piet Spaans –
(3) Alburnus
(3) Alburnus alburnus (Owner: Piet Spaans –
(4) Alburnus
(4) Alburnus alburnus Young (Owner: Piet Spaans –
(5) Alburnus
(5) Alburnus mento (Owner: Zoltan Sallai –

Where can you find the Common Bleak?

This fish is mainly found in Western Europe (up to the Volga) and Asia. They are native to the countries belonging to Scandinavia, Scotland, and Ireland. Bu they also like to be in the brackish water of the Baltic Sea.

They live in the freshwater of rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds.

These fish prefer to swim in large schools close to the freshwater surface with some movement (slow-flowing waters). But sometimes they also occur in stagnant fresh and brackish water. The Common Bleak can especially be found near the riverbanks. They do not like dense vegetation.

This animal does not tolerate higher water temperatures well. At 26 degrees Celsius, they already show balance disorders and if it turns around 30 degrees Celsius they can die en masse.

They also hate all kinds of obstacles (such as dams) because these hinder their migration.

The fish are very curious and extremely active.

Countries where they live

  • Africa: Algeria
  • Asia: Cyprus, Iran, Turkey
  • Europe: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Ukraine

Common Bleak: Their nutrition

The Common Bleak feeds on plankton, zoobenthos, floating insects, invertebrates that have fallen to the water’s surface, crustaceans, larvae, worms, and even plant debris. However, the larger specimens also feast on the fish spawn that resides on the surface of the water.

How do these animals mate?

The spawning season is from April to June. The fish that are ready to spawn shows a darker color on their backs.

This fish reproduces on the surface of the water in shallow water with a hard surface. Their maximum age is about 5 to 6 years. In their third year, they are sexually mature. They lay their sticky roe in the underwater plants or rocks. The light-yellow eggs hatch after about a week.

Common Bleak in the human diet

Since these are small fish, they are not fished for human consumption. They are usually seen as sport fishing where the angler uses a small hook with possibly an artificial fly. For example, many sports competitions are organized in which anglers have to catch as many fish as possible. They are also used as baitfish to hunt larger predatory fish.

In the past, there was a commercial fishery that mainly focused on the scales that contain many guanine crystals. These crystals were used in the production of artificial pearls.

Enemies of the Common Bleak

Enemies of the Common Bleak include the perch, pike, asp, and zander.

Perch (Owner: Zienert, Steffen –
Northern Pike
Northern Pike (OWner: Georg Mittenecker –
Asp – Aspius aspius (Owner: Jenny Glans –
Zander – Sander lucioperca Hungary (Owner: Harka, Akos –

Endangered Species?

The Common Bleak is not really known as an endangered species but it is listed as “vulnerable” on the Red List.


This is where I come to the end of this article. I hope you found it interesting and of course, any questions, additional information, comments, ambiguities, or untruths can always be left behind. Thanks in advance!

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