Orfe (Leuciscus idus)
Orfe (Leuciscus idus) photo by Viridiflavus
The orfe (Leuciscus idus) is a freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae found across northern Europe and Asia. It occurs in larger rivers, ponds, and lakes, typically in schools. The name is from Swedish id, originally referring to its bright color (compare the German dialect word aitel 'a kind of bright fish' and Old High German eit 'funeral pyre, fire').
The body has a typical cyprinid shape and generally silvery appearance, while the fins are a pinkish red in varying degrees. The tail and backfin can be greyish. In older and bigger fish the body color can turn to yellow/bronze. Golden Orfe and Blue Orfe varieties are available for the garden pond market.
Orfe are predators, eating insects, crustaceans, molluscs, and small fish. In the spring, they move into rivers to spawn over gravel or vegetation; the eggs may be found sticking to stones or weeds in shallow water.
Introduction to New Zealand
Orfe eggs, derived from ornamental pond stocks, were illegally imported to New Zealand by mail sometime in the 1980s. Subsequent releases occurred between 1985-86 in at least eight and possibly five more sites north of Auckland. The current status of these populations is in doubt, and at least one release site remains unknown. It seems likely orfe persist in the wild in New Zealand. Whether they become a nuisance species in New Zealand or will be successfully eradicated remains to be seen.