The saramugo (Anaecypris hispanica) is a small cyprinid (freshwater fishes of the family Ciprinidae) endemic to the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Its straight and elongated body, compressed laterally, is covered with small, fine scales. The colour varies between individuals, but is generally silvery with a roseate hue and dark spots on the flanks. The large eyes almost touch the dorsal profile of the relatively small head. The mouth is upturned due to its dietary habits. Individuals reach a maximum size of 7cm and females are usually bigger than males.
At the national level, the population of this species is undergoing a continuing decline, with an estimated 10,000 individuals according to the Portuguese Red Data Book of Vertebrates. A population reduction of 50% in the last 5 years is estimated, and it may suffer a reduction of around 80% in a 10-year period, with some subpopulations potentially not having a high enough number of individuals to remain viable.
As a result, the saramugo is assessed as Critically Endangered in Portugal.
At the European Union level, the Saramugo is a species of community interest, and is included in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive. Globally, this species has been assessed as Endangered by the IUCN (Crivelli, 2006), the same status as it has in Spain.
The saramugo has a short life cycle, with a maximum recorded longevity of 3 years. It reaches sexual maturity at the end of its first year of life, and shows split spawning.
These traits are related with the characteristic intermittent water regime of the Mediterranean region where the species occurs, in which water is abundant during the winter, but scarce during the summer.
During most of its time it lives in pools which provide structural shelter due to the existing vegetation.
Usually between April and May this species migrates upstream to flowing areas of reduced depth, for breeding and hatching.
Afterwards, the species swims down to lower areas with higher abundance of food and greater environmental stability where it grows. Thus, the species requires two types of specific habitats and is dependent on the connectivity between them.
Translated by: Marta Cálix