Taimen Hucho taimen historically inhabited most tributaries and littoral areas of Lake Baikal, in south central Siberia, where they supported subsistence and commercial fisheries. Logging, pollution, and overfishing have caused dramatic population declines or local extinction of most stocks. Most of what is known about this species has been published in eastern journals and therefore is not readily available to western scientists. New data collected during the 1980s and 1990s have been combined with other reports to provide an overview of the biology and life history of this species. Taimen are long-lived fish and can reach ages of 29 years and sizes up to 60 kg. Populations can either be strictly riverine or anadromous. Adults from both life histories ascend rivers in spring to spawn and feed, and less extensive migrations occur in fall to prey on spawning omul (Coregonus autumnalis migratorius). Principal food items for age 1 and 2 taimen are macroinvertebrates, but young taimen quickly become piscivorous at age 2 when they consume mainly black Baikal grayling (Thymallus arcticus baicalensis), and sculpins (Paracottus kneri, Cottus kessleri). Males reach sexual maturity at ages 7 to 8 and later for females at ages 8 to 9. Average egg production per female was about 22,000 eggs. Parasite burdens are heavy but composed of few species and mediated by prey items consumed. This fish is a highly-specialized predator and plays an indispensable role in the structure of fish communities in mountains and foothills. Taimen conservation in the Baikal region is impossible without adoption and implementation of a dedicated rehabilitation program that includes the protection of remaining populations and habitat, and possibly introduction of hatchery-reared fish in selected areas where habitat remains, but parental stocks are low.
Additional publication details
Ecology of Siberian Taimen Hucho taimen in the Lake Baikal Basin