Callionymus belenus Risso, 1826

Callionymus belenus image

Synonyms: Callionymus risso Le Sueur

Common names: Engl: Dragonet; Russ: Malaya morskaya mysh; Turk: Uzgun baligi; Ukr: Mors'ka mysha mala, Piskarka sira



Taxonomic descriptions: One of three species of the family inhabiting the Black Sea. Spinous dorsal fin with three rays. Rostrum length is less than the eye diameter and forming not more than 30% of the headís length.

Callionymus belenus arealIUCN Status:
††† World level:
††† Black Sea Regional level: EN
††† Subregion level: EN (Ukrainian sector)

Distribution: Mainly sandy bottom shallow water coastal areas of the Black Sea, including low salinity areas, Mediterranean Sea.

Habitats type, Critical habitats, Limiting factors: Sandy and muddy grounds from 1 to 10, sometimes 18 m depth. Limiting factors are the bottom hypoxia for adult fishes, surface water pollution and disappearance of Cystoseira belts for neustonic larvae.

Biology: A small bottom fish up to 7-8 cm length, feeding on meiobenthos and laying pelagic eggs. Neustonic larvae 4-7 mm long, are covered with a dense network of dark brown melanophores, making them appear like floating fragments of brown alga Cystoseira barbata to which the predators are indifferent.

Population trends: Sharp decline in population numbers since the late 1970s. The reduction of 50-70% over the last 10 years is based on direct observations.

Threats: Pollution of the surface microlayer of water, bottom hypoxia and disappearance of Cystoseira barbata belts along the north-western coast of the Black Sea.

Conservation measures taken: It has been included in the Red Data Book of Ukraine (1994), as a species in the Data Deficient (DD) category.

Conservation measures proposed: Enter in the Black Sea Red Data Book. Reduction of Black Sea eutrophication.


  1. Svetovidov, A.N., Ryby Chernogo morya (Fishes of the BlackSea). Moscow-Leningrad, Nauka Publ., pp. 551, (in Russian).
  2. Zaitsev, Yu.P., 1971. Marine Neustonology. Jerusalem: Israel Program for Scientific Translations, pp. 207, (in English).
  3. Zaitsev, Yu.P., 1993. Impact of Eutrophication on the Black Sea Fauna. Studies and Reviews, 64, p.59-86. (in English).
  4. Smirnov, A.I., 1994. Callionymus belenus Risso. Chervona KnigaUkrayni (Red Data Book of Ukraine), p. 280 (in Ukrainian).

Compiled by: Yu.Zaitsev