The Asp

The asp can be found in all big rivers and stillwaters in Hungary (the Danube, the Tisza, the Criș, Lake Balaton, Lake Velencei, Lake Tisza). It is an open water predator fish catching its prey on the surface. The asp is usually 10-80 cm long, but some can reach 1,2 m and can weigh 12 kg. In flowing water, it likes strong currents, the areas near stone dams, and the oxygen-rich water of the weirs. In lakes, it usually stays in the open water. This is where it pursues minnows swimming around the reeds. The asp often hunt in a group encircling minnows. It has a torpedo-shaped, streamlined body. The coloring of the body is graphite gray on the back, silver on the sides, and white over the stomach. Its body is slightly slippery and covered with tiny scales. The fins are big and strong, especially the caudal fin, which helps the asp swim fast. The head is big with a wide, terminal mouth. The lower jaw ends with a “hook”. As the asp does not have any teeth, it swallows its preys. Sometimes it hits its prey out of the water with its nose and swallows the unconscious minnow when it falls back into the water. The asp spawns between March and April. The spawn is preceded by an energetic dance. It lays its eggs on weeds along the margins. After the spawn hatch, they feed on planktonic organs. Later their diet consists of small crayfish, insects and smaller spawns. Only later does the asp change to a predatory lifestyle.