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Species: S. alpinus L.
Alpine char Salvelinus alpinus L. (photo www.photolib.noaa.gov)
Alpine char Salvelinus alpinus L. (Adamello-Brenta Natural Park)
The char has an elongated and fusiform body, moderately compressed and covered with small oval-shaped scales. The head has a conical shape and the mouth is terminal, slightly oblique and well developed. The maxillary bone extends to the upper edge of the eye and can even exceed it in the male. The teeth of the char are present on the head of the plow and absent on the stem. The lateral line is almost horizontal and on the back, an adipose fin is present in front of the caudal fin.
The body of this salmonid has a tonality that varies depending on certain factors such as season, environment, age and sex. Generally the dorsal portion is blue-metallic, greenish or silvery-gray in color, while the sides show a lighter color. On the back and sides there are also evident white or yellowish pink spots. The dorsal fin of the char is grayish in color, like the caudal one, while the other fins show a yellow-orange hue, with the front edge edged in white.
This salmonid has a particular characteristic, that is to vary the pigment of the body during the reproductive season. In this period, in fact, the ventral area, the lower part of the hips, the even and anal fins become more markedly orange or orange red.
olive, which tends to gray-green in the dorsal portion, while the sides show a silvery or brownish color. On the head and in the upper part of the sides there are evident black, red or red-orange spots, sometimes circled by a whitish halo.
Biology and habitat
In Italy the Arctic char is indigenous to the Alpine region of Trentino Alto Adige and from these it was introduced in areas of the Alps (Muus and Dahlstrom, 1967). It is a species with very different populations, but which so far have not shown such separations as to generate subspecies. The char is also able to hybridize with other species of its own genus and with species of other genera (Salmo, Oncorhyncus).
It lives in large groups in small alpine lakes and large pre-Alpine lakes, where it searches for deep, cold and well-oxygenated waters. Unlike the more northern populations, the Italian ones are linked exclusively to freshwater environments and do not migrate. The breeding season is normally between November and January, but can sometimes be brought forward already in September. The males take on the bright wedding livery which makes them unmistakable because of the belly which turns from white to red-orange. The females lay their eggs in depth on gravelly bottoms, where they set up nests hollowed out with tail strokes. In relation to their weight, each female is able to lay from 1000 to 1800 eggs for each kg of body weight. The arctic char is a carnivorous species, it feeds on benthic invertebrates and zooplankton. When the dimensions allow it, it also preys juvenile stages and fish eggs.
Productions and market
The Arctic char plays a role of considerable importance among the innovative species of greatest interest for breeding in fresh and cold water. The characteristics that make it particularly interesting can be summarized as: high breeding density, relatively rapid growth even in cold waters, high conversion rate, remarkable adaptability to the artificial environment and market value significantly higher than that of other farmed salmonids.
Province of Como: www.comune.como.it/provinciacomo/
Card edited by Lapo Nannucci