This website is a more detailed and technical account of the freshwater fishes of Iraq that appeared as a book in English and Arabic. Literature sources for the statements and data in the book are given here. The book is available at ?
New data are added to the website as time and resources permit. This file covers the Introduction; separate files cover Identification Keys, Freshwater Species, Species of Marine Origin, Checklists and the Bibliography, accessible from these links or the homepage.
Material and Methods
History of Research
Collecting and Preserving Fishes
Clayton Rubec, Canadian International Development Agency, Ottawa and Prof. Barry Warner, University of Waterloo, Ontario are thanked for the opportunity to work on this project and the financial support to carry it through to completion. The time of B. W. Coad and laboratory resources were supported by the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa and staff of the museum library searched out copies for the extensive reference database used in this work. Various American and British soldiers sent photographs of fishes caught by angling for identification.
Materials were studied in various collections by B. W. Coad and their curators are thanked for their permission to examine specimens and assistance in locating them. These include K. Banister, B. Brewster, P. Campbell, O. Crimmen, S. Davidson, P. H. Greenwood, A.-M. Hodges, G. Howes, J. Maclaine, N. Merrett, D. Siebert, E. Trewavas, A. Wheeler and P. J. P. Whitehead of the Natural History Museum, London; P. Bartsch and C. Lamour, Museum für Naturkunde, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; R. K. Johnson, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; H. Ahnelt, R. Hacker, E. Mikschi and B. Herzig, Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien; F. Krupp, Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt; and an extensive list of people acknowledged in “Freshwater Fishes of Iran” at www.briancoad.com as their help is a basis for part of this work.
Many people sent copies of their articles on Iraqi or related fishes or helped provide copies from their libraries. They include, L. A. J. Jawad, Wellington, New Zealand, who also read a draft of the manuscript and made many useful comments, Jeff Williams and David Steere, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, and Jean Collins and staff at the Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome.
Purpose of the Work
This work is meant to provide a guide to the freshwater fishes of Iraq. It closely follows a similar study on the Freshwater Fishes of Iran (at www.briancoad.com) as many of the fishes of western Iran in the Tigris River basin are found in Iraq, with only four primary freshwater fishes in Iraq and not in western Iran. Two of these Iraqi fishes are restricted to a cave system and one is known only from its original description.
There are no modern keys to this fauna, some available books are incomplete or cursory treatments or are outdated, and the detailed and diverse scientific literature is widely scattered in time, languages and journals. An accurate identification is a pre-requisite for further scientific studies and this website aims to serve that purpose and to be an introductory guide to the fishes and their biology. The guide is aimed at a mixed audience, including scientists familiar with ichthyology to whom some introductory sections of this work will be superfluous, and those whose knowledge of fishes is embryonic or who may have limited access to literature sources.
This “Introduction” contains several explanatory sections. These sections include detailed methods of counting and measuring characters, an explanation of scientific names of fishes, details of fish structure so that keys can be readily understood, ways of capturing and preserving fishes and recording the all-important collection data, and how to identify fishes. It also includes a brief review of the history of research on Iraqi fishes, descriptions of the environment including geography, climate, habitats and environmental change, and an overview of fisheries. T
The bulk of the text is the "Species Accounts" which serve to identify, describe and outline the distribution of each species. Families of fishes follow Nelson (2006) with genera and species arranged alphabetically within each family. Each Species Account is comprised of the following parts: the scientific name, common names, sections on systematics, key characters, morphology, sexual dimorphism, colour, size, distribution, zoogeography, summaries of habitat, age and growth, food, reproduction, parasites and predators, and economic importance, with notes on conservation, further work and sources.
Common names are given in Arabic and in English. Arabic names in English script appear in various spellings which are cited here. A few species in Iraq lack an Arabic name. More species lack an English common name as these fishes do not occur in English-speaking countries. Farsi (Iranian) names of fishes can be found in Freshwater Fishes of Iran at www.briancoad.com.
The biological information may be cursory. Many species are poorly known and their biology has not been studied, especially within Iraq. Some information is available for species shared with Turkey and Iran and this literature is incorporated as being less well known or accessible. Biological information generally is a brief summary of literature and readers should consult the original papers for more details. The biology of the fishes will vary with the type of habitat studied; marshes, rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, polluted and pristine habitats, habitats on the plains and those in the mountains, in southern Iraq and in northern Iraq, and by the effectiveness of the fishing apparatus used which can govern the age groups caught. There have been extensive studies on the parasites of fishes in Iraqi fresh waters, mostly recording species present and describing new species. The papers listed should be consulted for further details on the ecology of the parasite species. Parasites do not appear to be a significant problem for Iraqi fishes generally, although of course in the crowded conditions of fish farms this is always a potential problem.
Some anecdotal biological information is added from field collections. Most fish spawn in the spring. Feeding habits can often be deduced from morphology. Fish with an arched and ventral mouth, horny jaw edge, elongate gut and black peritoneum are feeders on detritus and aufwuchs scraped from rocks. Most fish with a simple, s-shaped gut feed on invertebrates such as crustaceans and aquatic insect larvae. A few fish with molar pharyngeal teeth have a diet of molluscs whose shells are crushed by the heavy teeth. Some fish are piscivorous and have an appropriate jaw shape and streamlined appearance suitable for catching and holding their fish prey. Fish with elongate and numerous fine gill rakers filter phytoplankton or zooplankton from the water column. Very few fish feed on macrophytes (large plants).
"Checklists" summarise the diversity of the ichthyofauna. A glossary of ichthyological terms is available at www.briancoad.com (Dictionary of Ichthyology). A "Bibliography" comprises books and papers referred to in the text and other relevant works, which form a good general basis for the serious student of Iraqi freshwater fishes.
The fishes found in Iraqi fresh waters comprise those fishes which spend their whole lives in fresh waters (dealt with under Freshwater Species) and certain species, primarily marine, that penetrate into fresh waters or waters under tidal influence such as the Hawr al Hammar (dealt with under