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  • Acipenser huso  Linnaeus, 1758:238.
  • Huso ichthyocolla  Bonaparte, 1842:22 (nomen nudum).
  • Acipenser vallisnerii  Molin, 1853:366.
  • Huso huso  Berg, 1904:666.
  • Huso huso maeoticus  Salnikov and Malyatskii, 1934:44.
  • Huso huso ponticus  Salnikov and Malyatskii, 1934:44.
  • Huso huso caspicus  Babushkin, 1942:131.
    FAO Names
    En - Beluga, Fr - Béluga, Sp - Esturión beluga.
    3Alpha Code: HUH     Taxonomic Code: 1170100501
    Scientific Name with Original Description
    Acipenser huso  Linnaeus, 1758. Syst. Nat., ed X: 238. Danube, Russian rivers.
    Diagnostic Features
    Spiracle present. Snout moderate and pointed, turning slightly upward. Gill membranes joined to one another to form a fold free from the isthmus. Mouth crescentic. Lower lip not continuous, interrupted at centre. Barbels oval or flat, leaf-like posteriorly reaching almost the mouth.  17-36 rod-shaped gill rakers.  D:48-81; A:22-41 rays.  9-17 dorsal scutes; 37-53 lateral scutes and 7-14 ventral scutes. Dorsal scutes oval, with a longitudinal denticulate comb. First dorsal scute is the smallest. Lateral scutes smooth. Ventral scutes hidden beneath the skin. There are numerous small bony plates between the scute rows.  Back ashen gray or black, gradually transitioning to white toward the underside. Belly white, and the snout is yellowish. 
    Geographical Distribution
    The beluga is a diadromous species that inhabits the Black, Azov, Caspian, and Adriatic Seas. It is more numerous in the Caspian Sea and very rare in the Adriatic Sea (Pirogovskii et al. 1989).
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    Habitat and Biology
    During the period of marine life, the adults mainly inhabits the pelagic zone descending at depths of 160-180 m. During both the seaward and the spawning migration, the beluga usually travels in the deepest parts of the riverbed. Juveniles during the first year of life remain in warmer, shallow habitats.The main food of juveniles appears to be insect larvae, especially of Ephemeroptera, crustaceans (gammarids, mysids, copepods, and cladocerans). Beluga begins preying on fishes , at a very early age (with a length of 24 cm in the lower Danube). Preferent prey items are Alosa spp., Engraulis encrasicolus, cyprinids (Cyprinus, Leuciscus, Scardinius, and Aspius). Marine fishes, such as Scomber scombrus, Trachurus mediterraneus ponticus and Sprattus sprattus are important in it diet between May and September, when the beluga are congregating near the coast prior to entering rivers; during the autumn and winter they descent into deep regions of the sea and feeds mainly on Mullus barbatus ponticus, Merlangius merlangus euxinus, Platichthys flesus flesus and Engraulis encrasicolus.
    First sexual maturity is reached by the great sturgeon very late. Most males of the Volga population mature at 14-16 years; most females reach this stage at 19-22 years. Subsequent spawning apparently begins at least 5 years later. The great sturgeon spawn far upstream in all rivers. Spawning period usually coincides with a high-water period in spring and begins at a water temperature of 6° to 7° C, and it ceased when the temperature reaches 21° C. The spawning sites are usually in the river bed, at a depth of 4 to 15 m, with a hard, stony or gravelly bottom; the hatchlings at an early age travel to the sea. 
    Maximum size: about 6 m and a weigh exceeding 1000 Kg (Berg, 1948). Lengths of 8 m and weights of 3200 kg have been reported, but they raise doubts. Usually 120-260 cm and to 363 kg.
    Interest to Fisheries
    The beluga was one of the important commercial freshwater fish. The great stocks of the species are concentred in the Caspian region, but as a result of the presence of dams along the rivers, the natural reproduction of this species in the Caspian watershed has been reduced to a minimum. At present time, the size of the population is being maintained by stocking with cultured fishes (Pirogorskii et al., 1989). Bester, a hybrid of female Huso huso and male sterlet Acipenser ruthenus, has been successfully cultivated for its high quality eggs.
    Local Names
    ALBANIA : Bli turishkurte .
    AUSTRIA : Hausen .
    FINLAND : Kitasampi ,  Beluga .
    FRANCE : Beluga ,  Grand esturgeon .
    GERMANY : Europäischer Hausen ,  Hausenblase .
    GREECE : Akipíssios ,  Mocuna .
    HUNGARY : Viza .
    ITALY : Storione ladando .
    NORWAY : Belugastør .
    POLAND : Bieluga z ,  Wyz ,  Wiz .
    PORTUGAL : Esturjâo do Cáspio ,  Esturjão-beluga .
    ROMANIA : Morun .
    RUSSIAN FED. : Beluga .
    SLOVENIA : Beluga .
    SPAIN : Beluga ,  Esturión beluga .
    SWEDEN : Belugastör ,  Husblosstör .
    TURKEY : Mersin morinasi .
    UKRAINE : Beluga .
    UNITED KINGDOM : Beluga ,  Great Sturgeon .
    USA : Beluga ,  Great Sturgeon .
    According to Pirogovskii et al., 1989, material from which to determine differences among populations from different water bodies is extremely scarce to support any positive conclusions on the validity of the great sturgeon subspecies.
    Almaça, C & B. Elvira - 2000. Past and present distribution of Acipenser sturio L., 1758 on the Iberian Peninsula. Bol. Inst. Esp. Oceanogr. .  16 (1-4):; 11-16 ..
    Banarescu, P. - 1964. Fauna R.P.R.Vol. XIII. Pisces-Osteichthyes Ed. Academiei R.P.R., Bucuresti.
    Bauchot, M.-L. - 1987. Poissons osseux In W. Fischer, M.L. Bauchot and M. Schneider (eds.). Fiches FAO d'identification pour les besoins de la pêche. (rev. 1). Méditerranée et mer Noire. Zone de pêche 37. Vol. II. Commission des Communautés Européennes and FAO, Rome. p. 891-1421. "/> ..
    Bemis ,W.E., E.K. Findeis & L. Grande - 1997. An overview of Acipenseriformes. Environ. Biol.Fish. .  48:25-71..
    Berg, L.S - 1962. Freshwater fishes of the U.S.S.R. and adjacent countries. Israel Program for Scientific Translations Ltd.  , Jerusalem. Volume 1, 4th edition. Russian version published 1948.
    Birstein, V.J., Bemis, W.E & J.R. Waldman - 1997. The threatened status of acipenseriform species: a summary. Environm. Biol. Fish. .  48:427-435..
    Hilton-Taylor, C. - 2000. 2000 IUCN red list of threatened species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and ambridge, UK. xviii + 61 p., with 1 CD-ROM.
    Pirogovskii, M.I., L.I. Sokolov & V.P. Vasiliev - 1989. Huso huso (Linnaeus, 1758). In The Freshwater Fishes of Europe.  , Vol.1, Part II: General Introduction to Fishes. Acipenseriformes 156-201.. (Ed. J. Holcík), AULA-Verlag Wiesbaden.
    Reshetnikov, Y.S, N.G. Bogutskaya, E.D. Vasil'eva, E.A. Dorofeeva, A.M. Naseka, O.A. Popova, K.A. Savvaitova, V.G. Sideleva & L.I. Sokolov - 1997. An annotated check-list of the freshwater fishes of Russia. J. Ichthyol. .  37(9): 687-736..
    Rochard, E., Castelnaud, G. & M. Lepage - 1990. Sturgeons (Pisces:Acipenseridae); threats and prospects. J. Fish Biol. .  37 (A): 123-132..
    Svetovidov, A.N. - 1984. Acipenseridae . In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.). Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. UNESCO, Paris. vol. 1. :220-225..
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