Game fish: Huchen (Hucho hucho)

Huchen (Hucho hucho) - Credit Harald Peki on Wikimedia Commons -

Der Huchen (Hucho hucho), also known as Danube Salmon, can reach impressive sizes. Adults often exceed 1.5 meters in length and weigh over 50 kilograms.

Der Huchen has a relatively long lifespan, with some individuals living for over 20 years. Its habitat includes fast-flowing, well-oxygenated rivers and streams in Central and Southeastern Europe. The Huchen is known for its voracious feeding habits, preying on various fish species.

Key takeaways

  1. Der Huchen, also known as the Danube Salmon, is notable for its large size, often reaching up to 1.5 meters and weighing over 50 kilograms. It has a long lifespan, lasting more than 20 years.
  2. This species thrives in fast-flowing, well-oxygenated rivers across Central and Southeastern Europe. Its diet changes with age—from water insect larvae in youth to fish and small vertebrates as adults—reflecting its role as a top predator in its ecosystem.
  3. Listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, the Huchen faces threats from habitat loss, overfishing, and ecological changes. Conservation efforts, which include habitat restoration and sustainable fishing practices, are crucial to ensure its survival in the wild.
Huchen (Hucho hucho) - Credit Harald Peki on Wikimedia Commons
Huchen (Hucho hucho) - Kredit Harald Peki auf Wikimedia Commons

Physical Description of Huchen (Hucho hucho)

Body Description

Der Huchen (Hucho hucho) is a large game fish species that has a slender, nearly round body that is reddish-brown on the back with several dark patches in an X or crescent shape.

Head Description

The Huchen has a more giant head than other salmonids, with a long, broad head and a large, elongated mouth.

Fins Shape and Colour

The Huchen’s fins are rounded and usually have a reddish colour, with the pelvic and anal fins being particularly striking due to their bright red hue. The dorsal fin is also distinctive, with a dark leading edge and a lighter trailing edge. The adipose fin is typically dark and has a reddish tint. These unique fin characteristics contribute to the Huchen’s striking appearance, making it a prized catch for anglers. Its beauty and rarity have also led to conservation efforts to protect its populations in the wild.

H. huchon
Binomischer Name
Huchon huchon (Linnaeus, 1758)
Der binomische Name für die Huchen (Hucho hucho), Linnaeus gilt als die Autorität, die sie 1758 erstmals beschrieb.

Size, Weight, and Lifespan

Average size and weight

The average length of a Huchen is between 60 and 120 centimetres (24 and 47 inches). The Huchen can reach about 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) in length and more than 50 kilograms (110 lbs) in weight.

Lifespan in the wild for the Hucho fish

In the wild, the Huchen hat eine lifespan of several years, with proper conservation efforts contributing to its longevity.

Size and Weight Record

Der largest recorded Huchen weighed is a 34.8 kg (76 lb 11 oz) fish caught in Drau, Austria, making it a prized angler catch.

Lebensraum und Verbreitung

Natural Habitat

The Huchen is endemic to the Danube basin in Europe. It favours clear, fast-flowing rivers with gravel bottoms for spawning.


Der Huchen, also known as the Danube salmon, is predominantly located in the upper Danube basin, including rivers and tributaries in countries such as Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. This species is native to the Danube drainage in Europe, and efforts have been made to introduce it into other European river basins to support declining populations.


The Huchen’s feeding habits vary depending on its size. Smaller Huchen primarily consumes water insect larvae and insects that fall into the water, whereas more prominent individuals prey on other fish species and small vertebrates. This räuberisches Verhalten is crucial to the Huchen’s feeding habits, as it hunts smaller fish and other aquatic organisms.


Der spawning behaviour of sexually mature Huchen involves migrating upstream into smaller, shallower streams, typically in the upper reaches of tributaries. Upon arrival, males establish spawning sites and protect females from competing individuals. Spawning occurs during the daytime on gravelly riverbeds, where the female creates a shallow nest for egg deposition, which is then covered with gravel. After 25-40 days, the eggs hatch, and the larvae stay within the rock until their yolk sac is absorbed, typically within 8-14 days.

Fishing Interest

Popular Game Fish

The Huchen is a highly sought-after game fish. It is prized for its size, strength, and challenging nature, making it a popular target for anglers.

Culinary interest in the Huchen is also significant, with its firm, flavorful flesh making it a prized catch for both sport and culinary purposes. However, due to its declining populations in the wild, many regions have implemented strict regulations on Huchen fishing to protect and conserve this iconic species.


Fliegenfischen is a popular technique for catching Huchen, as it allows for precise and delicate bait presentation.

Effective baits and lures for Huchen fishing include streamer flies, spinners, and spoons that mimic the fish and aquatic prey it feeds on.

International Common Names used for the Huchen (Hucho hucho)

Some of the international common names for the Huchen or Danube Salmon include “Donaulachs” or “Huchen” in German, “Huchon” in French, and “Sulec” in Slovenian. These names highlight the species’ cultural importance in different regions and the diverse linguistic heritage of its habitat. Understanding the various terms for the Huchen can also facilitate international collaboration in conservation efforts and research and promote awareness of this remarkable fish species across different linguistic and cultural communities.

Invasive Behaviour and Threat on Other Species

Impact on Native Fish Species

Der introduction of Huchen into new ecosystems has the potential to impact native fish species due to competition and predation adversely. The presence of Huchen in non-native habitats can disrupt the ecological balance and food web, which in turn can affect the populations of other aquatic organisms.


The Huchen is listed as an endangered species über die Rote Liste der IUCN. Its population is threatened by habitat loss, overfishing, and ecological changes in its natural environment. Conservation efforts for the Huchen focus on habitat restoration, sustainable fisheries management, and raising awareness about the importance of preserving this iconic species.

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