Territorial and non-territorial spawning behaviour in the bream

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Abstract

The spawning behaviour of bream Abramis brama was studied in 1993, in a harbour on the River Meuse, Belgium. Fish spawned from 22 to 27 April and from 11 to 14 May, when the water temperature rose to 14.5) C. The reproductive behaviour of the bream was studied within a 15 m long part of the harbour using a video camera. Territorial males with tubercles (33–43 cm total length; >5 years old) defended bank areas of diameter 80–150 cm which included spawning substratum, i.e. roots of alder and willow trees and aquatic plants. Water depth ranged from 25 to 50 cm. Non-territorial males without tubercles (24–33 cm; 3–4 years old), remained 2–4 m away from the bank. Aggressive behaviour between males was frequent and, occasionally, males with tubercles were unable to defend a territory. Mature females (25–43 cm; >3 years old), coming from the deeper water of the surrounding area, were followed by non-territorial males before spawning in territories near the bank.

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