The huchen, also known as the Danube salmon or the Hucho hucho, is a freshwater fish that originated in the Danube River in Europe. As fishing for this species became more popular, it was distributed to other parts of Europe and can now be found all over the continent. Huchen are freshwater fish that travel from lakes and slow-moving rivers to stake out their territories for most of their lives. This species of salmon is actually the largest breed of freshwater salmon in the world, and for many years, it was exploited as a food source in Europe. Huchen is also considered a great sport fish, simply because of its massive size and volatile temperament—this has contributed to the dwindling huchen population, and the fish is now considered an endangered species.
This fish has a slim body which is nearly round in the middle. The huchen back tends to be red-brown with almost a gradient effect, with several dark patches which are oddly shaped either like an X or a crescent. These characteristics are not very reminiscent of the North American salmon variety.
During the mating season, the female may lay her eggs in more shallow and still waters. Smaller fish will stay in these waters and feed on other fish eggs, larvae, or insects. As the fish grows, it may move to deeper waters and begin feeding on other fish or even small animals such as mice in the water.
The huchen species is very territorial, and instead of leaving the eggs after mating, a female will guard her nest vigorously. After the incubation period of 16 to 24 days, the eggs will hatch, and then the female may leave her nest. Other than during mating season, the huchen is not considered a social fish.
Conservation efforts are under way to breed huchen in controlled environments, hatch the eggs, and then return the young fish to their natural habitat once they are large enough. The conditions needed to incubate and hatch the eggs, however, prove to be complex, and it is difficult to get it right in a controlled environment. This, along with the inability to keep many huchen in a confined area for very long, is making conservation efforts very difficult. Re-establishing the population of this fish is considered important to the ecosystem and population of Europe, and efforts to save the huchen will most likely not stop.