Berlin Environmental Atlas

02.08 Fish Fauna (Edition 2004)

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Map Description

During the recording period of 1993-2002, 34 species of fish were verified in the state of Berlin, including six non-local species. Compared with 1993, the species inventory was expanded by one non-indigenous fish species, the marble carp, a cyprinide originating in China, which was stocked, particularly during the 1980s, for economic reasons. Moreover, a second bullhead species has now been verified in Berlin, the black bullhead (Ameiurus melas). This species was already described by Doering & Ludwig (1992) for the bodies of water in the Great Tiergarten; however, it could not be taken into account in the current map representation either, since the living catch reports do not distinguish between the two species, so that their occurrences cannot be delimited clearly from one another (Wolter et al. 2003).

Since 1993, order has brought to the taxonomic chaos previously prevailing in the systematics of European freshwater fish, particularly due to the basic work of Kottelat (1997). As a result, the scientific species names of several fish species have been changed, by comparison with the last edition of the map. Besides this editorial change, the view of a species as not local (non-indigenous, neozoans) has been fundamentally changed. As the result of an international working group on Neozoans/ Neophytes, the year 1492, the official discovery of the "New World" by Columbus, has been established as the threshold year for the determination of a species as non-indigenous, since after this, the exchange processes of goods, commodities and also biota increased immensely between the continents. Species of fish naturalized after 1492 are regarded as non-indigenous, not local (Kinzelbach 1996, Kowarik 2003).
In glaring contradiction to this, the new Berlin State Fishing Regulation (LFischO, GVbl Berlin 57, No. 54 of December 22nd 2001) has, for purposes of simplification of economic stocking measures of the fish industry (abolition of approval requirements), established all species of fish naturalized since 1900 as local. However, this administrative simplification of stocking regulations is of marginal importance for the ichtheofauna, since the neozoans in terms of the stricter definition which still remain in Berlin waters are economically insignificant and hence, despite unrestricted stocking possibilities, in permanent decline (cf. Tab. 1 ).
The species carp and gibel carp, which are economically significant in Berlin, particularly for fishermen, are no longer viewed as non-indigenous, as they were in the edition 1993, since they demonstrably settled the Elbe watershed area, including the Havel and Spree, between 530 and 1100 (Hoffmann 1994).

Table 2
Tab. 2: Number of Berlin Bodies of Water with Verified Presence of Fish Species

[Table is also available as Excel-File (MS-Excel is required).]

[Here are the Illustrations of these Fish Species.]

The most frequent species of fish in Berlin bodies of water are still the roach and the perch, followed closely by eel, pike, bream, tench and rudd, which are all on the increase (Tab. 1).
The most dramatic population decline affected the crucian, with 16 eliminations within the last ten years, for which reason this species is classified as severely endangered in the current Red Data Book.
The bitterling, a so-called "Habitat-Directive species," the preservation of which requires special attention, lost 80 % of the occurrences which had existed in 1993. Today, only two reproductive populations exists (Wolter et al. 2003).
The decline in occurrences of the neozoans rainbow trout and grass and silver carp was comparably dramatic, albeit from a conservationist viewpoint, not undesirable. These species cannot reproduce naturally in Berlin waters, and due to the above-mentioned lack of economic significance, or in the case of the rainbow trout, to a lack of suitable bodies of water, are no longer being stocked.
Another Habitat-Directive species, the loach, showed a strong increase in Berlin. The positive development of the populations of other typical species of river fish, such as the ide and the asp, has proceeded analogously.

Since Berlin's bodies of water have hardly changed at all structurally - the degradation of the Spree has even increased in the government district construction area -- the increase in river fish species can only be explained by the considerable improvement in water quality. One reflection of this is the relatively high number of species moved to less-threatened categories in the Red Data Book, and also that the "mass fish problem," widely discussed in 1993, is now a thing of the past. Today, the so-called white fish show good to very good individual growth.
Here the use of phosphate-free detergents, the full-scale introduction of phosphate elimination or precipitation in sewage treatment plants, as well as reduced agricultural fertilizer use in the Spree and Havel watershed areas have had a positive effect on the reduction of the nutrient burden in the bodies of water. How considerably the phosphate load has been reduced can e.g. be seen from the fact that the estimation of per capita daily use has been corrected from 4.2 g of phosphorus per day (g P/d) to 1.8 g P/d, as a result of the widespread availability of phosphate-free detergents and efficient phosphate elimination in sewage-treatment plants (Behrendt et al. 1999).

Moreover, the ongoing measures for the reconstruction of the Berlin mixed-water sewage system discharge the bodies of water furthermore. Mixed-water overflows, during which untreated sewage water and polluted rain water during heavy rainfall flow directly into the bodies of water, may led to fish kills. In the water, bacteria immediately decompose the organic material, consuming oxygen in the process. During heavy rainfall and caused by this, massive mixed-water overflows, the consuming of oxygen is so high that whole sections of waters are free of oxygen. Fish kills are unavoidable. By extensive measures during the last years the mixed-water overflows could already be reduced obvious, therefore situations critical for fish are clearly more unusual compared to the past. The reconstruction measures will last until 2020. Furthermore, the Berlin Senate runs several aerating plants and an aerating ship, which provide artificial input, if oxygen values drop during the summer. The regular supervision of summertime oxygen conditions are carried out by 10 stationary online-measuring probes supplemented by longeron ways during critical weather periods.

In addition to these direct measures for the improvement of water quality and oxygen conditions, the fish also profited from the Berlin reed-bed protection program, the efforts to plant pike-spawning meadows, e.g. in the Tiefwerder meadows, from the certification of spawning protection areas, and the eel and pike stocking measures financed by all licensed fishing people through the sale of fishing tickets.

What is still especially striking is the relatively large number of species in the smaller bodies of water. They are often home to considerably more species of fish than would be expected under natural conditions. The majority of the stocked species is not capable of reproduction under the given conditions of the bodies of water, and is continually restocked. A total of 24 of the species of fish verified in Berlin were found in small bodies of water (see Tab. 2), while the fish fauna characteristic for this body-of-water type contains only eight species: carp, gibel carp, crucian, moderlieschen, rudd, tench and, to a limited degree, pike and perch.

Only rivers, canals, river lakes and inland lakes greater than 10 hectares are relevant for the assessment under the Water Framework Directive. For these body-of-water types, the map provides valuable information about potential species inventory; the good ecological potential must in every case be set above the observed species average (see map legend). However, for an initial classification of the bodies of water through 2006, further stock verification and scientific examinations on the ecological potential of urban bodies of water will be required.

Brief Characterization of Select Berlin Bodies of Water

River Lakes

Some 30 km of the Havel and its lake-like expansions are located in the Berlin municipal area. The Spandau barrage weir, which has existed since before 1232, separated the upper Havel, including Niederneuendorf and Tegel Lakes, from the lower Havel, including the Scharfe Lanke, Stössen Lake, Jungfern Lake and Great Wannsee.
The little Wannsee chain lies in an ancillary ice-age spillway, and includes the Little Wannsee and Pohle and Stölpchen Lakes. These bodies of water are similar both morphologically and hydrologically and can be viewed as outflow or river lakes. The total area of the Havel lakes is more than 2000 hectares, with Pohle and Stölpchen Lakes the smallest with 10 hectares each, and Tegel Lake the largest with about 400 hectares. All bodies of water mentioned were tested in the course of the Berlin fish fauna survey, with the exception of Niederneuendorf Lake. The Havel lakes are among the Berlin bodies of water with the highest number of species of fish; the maximum of species was in Tegel Lake, with 24, and there were 30 fish species altogether.
The large range of species of fish in the river lakes has several causes. On the one hand, as mentioned above, there are both flowing and still water areas, so that in addition to the ubiquitously present eurytopic species, both lentic species (preferring still water) and lotic species (preferring flowing water) can find suitable living conditions. Moreover, despite major anthropogenic impairments, relatively variegated shore structures can still be found. Apart from widespread structures of every kind (bung walls, footbridges, moorings etc.), there are also flat, weeded bays and reed-beds, which serve the fish as spawning grounds and their brood as growth areas.
In addition, eel, pike and catfish are regularly stocked. The Havel waters are a waterway of the first order, i.e. they are used by professional navigation. Moreover, they are heavily used by professional and sports fishermen as well as by water-sports enthusiasts and relaxation seekers.

In addition to the Havel, the Spree and Dahme also have lake-like expansions. Along the Dahme are the Langer and Zeuthen Lakes and the Great Krampe. Seddin Lake is fed with Spree water through the Gosen Canal; the Spree flows through all the other bodies of water examined (Rummelsburg Lake, the Great and Little Müggel Lakes and Dämeritz Lake as well as the Bänke). The last-named lakes occupy an area of 952 hectares together, with their size ranging between 15.8 hectares (Little Müggel Lake) and 770 hectares (Great Müggel Lake). A total of 28 species of fish have been verified; the single bodies of water ranged from 12 species (Little Müggel Lake) to 24 species (Dämeritz Lake).
The bitterling has disappeared from these bodies of water. The strong occurrences of the Habitat-Directive species loach and asp in the Great Müggel Lake particularly deserve mention. For both species, the Great Müggel Lake is the main spawning area in Berlin. These species are particularly numerous here, and from here they also settle other inner-city bodies of water, such as the Spree. The river lakes located at the southeastern edge of the city stand out for their variegated habitats. They still have extensive non-reinforced, near-natural shorelines (the southern and western shores of the Great Müggel Lake) as well as relatively extensive reed-bed belts (eastern shore of the Seddin lakes), and extensive floating foliate plant zones (the Bänke). The uses of these bodies of water is analogous to that of the Havel lakes, although the burden due to sports boats is considerably lower. The Dahme is part and the Spree-Oder waterway, and is used by professional navigation.
The species-poorest river lake of all was the Jungfern Lake, where only seven species of fish were verified.

Inland Lakes

The category of inland lakes includes closed, standing bodies of water with areas greater than one hectare. Depending on their type of genesis, the distinction is made between natural lakes (created by the Vistulian Glaciation), and artificial lakes (pits, gravel or clay quarries, peat cuts, etc.).

Natural Lakes

Thirty-one of the sampled lakes were assigned to this category. Their sizes ranged from 1.2 hectares (Möwen Lake) to 70 hectares (Gross-Glienicke Lake). A total of 27 species of fish were verified in them, with the number of species per lake ranging from one (Schwarzwasser Lake) and 16 (Heiligen Lake).

The land-forming, flat, polytrophic Bogen Lake in the Buch Forest has an extensive reed-bed belt. The sewage-farm operation near the lake, which continued into the mid-'80s, led to heavy nutrient immissions, causing it to silt up. In summer, the oxygen content of the water often reaches values critical for fish. From the south shore of the lake, there is a pipe connection to the Buch ponds. The lake appears very unspoiled.

The Grunewald, Hundekehl, Nikolas and Schlachten Lakes and the Krumme Lanke form the Great Grunewald lakes. They are located in an ancillary postglacial spillway off the Havel lakes. The shores of these long bodies of water are overgrown with trees almost throughout their entire length. With the exception of Nikolas Lake, which has extensive herbaceous areas of flat water and reed-beds, the mentioned bodies of water have scanty reed-beds in only a few places. Nikolas Lake is one of the two remaining bodies of water with a bitterling population.

The Little Grunewald lakes include the Hertha, Halen, Diana, Hubertus and Koenig Lakes. Like the Great Grunewald lakes, they are located in an ancillary postglacial spillway off the Havel lakes. Their shores are lined with bushes and trees, and to some extent reinforced with wooden fascines. These bodies of water all have reed-beds and flat herbaceous areas. Their shores are accessible to the public only at a few locations. Like most Berlin lakes, they are also fishing areas, and as such are regularly restocked with fish.

With an area of 70 hectares, Gross-Glienicke Lake is Berlin's biggest inland lake. It is a stratified, eutrophic to hypertrophic lake. Its earlier, temporary connection to Sacrow Lake no longer exists, so that migration of fish via this path has ceased. Fish-stocking is carried out mainly with pike, tench, carp and eel; a total of seven species of fish have been verified. Due to a chemical phosphate precipitation project carried out in 1992-'93, the summertime view depth has improved considerably in the lake, which has also favored the settlement of sub-aquatic plants and led to a rise of the structural variety of the lake.

Heiligen Lake is indeed connected to the upper Havel by a channel, but its theoretical water dwell time is so high that it is not counted as a river lakes (water dwell time < 30 days). The northern lakeside appears near-natural, is covered with reed-beds and certified as a spawn- protection area. The other shores are grass-covered or obstructed by footbridges. The Heiligen Lake is used for fishing. Due to the connection to the upper Havel, which makes fish migration into the lake possible, it is the inland lake with the largest number of fish species in Berlin, with 16 verified species.

The long-drawn Hermsdorf Lake is located in the north of Berlin. It is drained by Tegel Creek. Like Heiligen Lake, its flow is too slight for it to count as a river lake. Its shore vegetation is variously structured; some areas are overgrown with reed-beds, others with bushes and trees. Flat, herbaceous areas which can serve the fish and their brood as spawning grounds and shelters are found in the water. The lakebed is muddy.

The hypertrophic Malchow Lake is located in the north of Berlin. It is used for fishing. Its maximum depth is only 1.5 m; its view depth is only a few centimeters. The lakeside is partly lined with thick willow bushes (eastern shore) and trees (northern and northwestern shores). Higher aquatic plants are largely lacking, due to the nutrient entry from the surrounding area; the western part of the lake is particularly strongly silted. Here, thick mud deposits extend to just below the water surface (10-20 cm). No fish kills have been observed during the past ten years, as had repeatedly been the case between 1974 and 1988. The lake is managed and stocked with fish by the Berlin State Fishermen's Association which belongs to the German Fishermen's Association e.V (DAV). They have stocked catfish successfully, as could be impressively seen, among other things, by the catch of a 1.20 m long fish in the summer of 2003. However, only eleven species of fish were verified recently, compared with 14 to 1993.

The hypertrophic Ober Lake in Hohenschönhausen is a park lake. The lake structure is poor except for an island, with monotonous concrete shorelines which offer fish neither shelter nor spawning grounds. The sewer is an additional burden; it discharges mixed waste and rain water overflows into the lake during strong rainfalls, particularly in winter. The lake is also managed by the Berlin State Fishermen's Association. The fish population has changed considerably compared with the period before 1993. At that time, crucian, gibel carp, tench and carp were frequent; today, perch and moderlieschen predominate, of which the perch have a much lower tolerance for oxygen scarcity than the cyprinides mentioned above. The number of fish species has declined to ten, compared with 14 in 1993.

Neighboring eutrophic Oranke Lake is also a park lake used for fishing; on its northern shore, there is also a heavily frequented public swimming area. The lakesides are reinforced with steel bung walls and concrete honeycomb plates. They therefore no longer have their original, richly variegated structure.
Extensive curltop growth, which provides the fish with spawning grounds and shelter, is still found in the lake, while the bathing beach provides sand-spawning (psammophilic) species of fish like the gudgeon with a suitable spawning refuge. The lake is fed from a submerged spring, is considerably less silted than neighboring Ober Lake, and has a better water quality despite heavier frequentation by bathers.
The bitterling has disappeared in the course of the shore reinforcement measures at the lakeside.

Plötzen Lake in Wedding is also used for public swimming. The lake is also used for fishing, and is managed by the German Association of Sports Fishermen (VDSF). Tests of rainbow trout stocking failed in 1998; the species was already no longer verifiable in the subsequent year.
The Plötzen Lake has predominantly non-reinforced shores; the tree stands reach the water. The only non-wooded shore is in the area of the public bathing area. Every year, large quantities of leaves from the shore vegetation fall into the water, causing nutrients to be released and oxygen deficiency to appear in the hypolimnion. At the time of the full circulation in October 2000, an eel kill occurred, so that in the fall of the same year, chemical methods were used intensively for nutrient verification in the sediment. An examination of the consequences for the ichtheofauna carried out in subsequent year verified a total of 15 fish species (Fredrich & Wolter, not published), as opposed to 10 species to 1993.
The occasional asps found were apparently from the neighboring Westhaven Canal (individual transfer by fishermen).

Before the termination of fishing in the Müggelheim Teufel Lake, it was stocked with fish by the German Fishermen's Association. The species of fish verifiable at present can primarily be explained by that. Like Plötzen Lake, the shores are largely tree-lined. The leaf entry caused by this has led to the polytrophic lake having a mud floor, with an up to 20 m thick layer of fine sediment.

The Wilmersdorf Teufel Lake is located in a nature reserve. Its shores are lined with trees and to some extent with reeds. The result is a variegated structure and a near-natural appearance. Although the stock development of the bitterling was assessed as declining in 1993, this species has maintained itself in this body of water to this day, one of the last two reproductive populations of this species in Berlin waters, together with Nikolas Lake.

The shores of the Hermsdorf Wald Lake have thick stands of trees. There are flat herbaceous areas which are suitable habitats for broods and young fish and spawning grounds for fish which require aquatic vegetation. The lake appears very natural. A total of 12 fish species were found.

The Zehlendorf Wald Lake is not open to the public and also seems quite natural. The shores are thick with trees, with stabilized walkways in some places. Submerged aquatic vegetation is rich. Compared with 11 fish species in 1993, only 8 were now verified (Minow, unpublished).

The hypertrophic Weisse Lake is a park lake managed by recreational fishers. The shoreline of old facines is monotonous and has few structures. Cyprinide species (carp) have hardly any spawning substrate, because strong eutrophication hinders higher water plants. The lake bottom is very muddy, except for the bathing area on the east shore. The water fountain in the middle of the lake introduces much oxygen in the summer months and is thus evaluated positively. After numerous fish kills between 1993 and 1996, only 7 fish species have now been verified, compared with 18 in 1993.

The drop in the numbers of species compared with 1993 in many inland lakes, seemingly so dramatic, can often be explained by the fact that the users, mostly fishing organizations, today apparently plan and carry out fish-stocking measures more responsibly. The species which are now missing in the lakes are almost exclusively those which were stocked in the past, although they were unsuitable for the body-of-water type. These included primarily rainbow trout, but also pike-perch, asp, chub etc., and which are now disappearing once again, since the stocking measures have evidently been terminated.

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