Iran inland basins include two major basins in northern and southern Iran and several smaller ones in central and eastern Iran. Taking into account the newly described species of cyprinids and loaches, the freshwater and brackish water fishes of Iran exceed the number of 200 species, among which some 163 species occur in inland waters. Inland water fishes include the freshwater residents or migratory fish to upstream. Thus, Caspian Sea or estuarine species are not included. Some 20 species are present in southern Caspian Sea and some species are reported in early 20th century with no confirmed specimens since then. Amongst the 166 species reported here, cyprinids with 87 species, balitorids with 22 species and gobiids with 10 species, are the more specious families in inland waters of Iran. Thirteen families contain only one species each, and 4 families only two.
Drought has severely threatened the life of aquatic organisms in the last several years and in summer, due to water abstraction for agricultural purposes, only a trace of many large rivers are left. Pollution, overfishing, dam constructions and habitat destruction are other causes for fish reduction. However, it seems that fishes have been able to adapt to these new conditions and continue to survive.
In this book, which is the result of a research project undertaken for Iran Department of Environment, we tried our best to update the information and distribution maps of the species during the last two years. Most of the photos presented here are from our own recent work, some from earlier works taken by us and a few, which mostly belong to rare or endangered species, are borrowed from others or taken from the literature, which are properly acknowledged. Our field and laboratory works were compared with the present available literature and the most updated information is presented. Some of the information presented here is original, not published elsewhere. Despite our efforts, our knowledge on some rare species is still incomplete and we hope to gain more information until the next edition.
In the last two centuries, many ichthyologists have studied the freshwater and inland water fishes of Iran. Among them, Bruun & Kaiser (1944), Banarescu & Nalbant (1967) and Bianco & Banarescu (1982), could be mentioned. One of the most comprehensive works on freshwater fishes of Iran, belongs to the famous Russian ichthyologist, Berg (1948-49; 1948). He named many species from the region which were later considered at subspecific level or synonyms. Nevertheless, his book is still a reference on the fishes of the region. Also, the freshwater fishes of Iran, have been the subject of two theses abroad (Saadati, 1970; Armantrout, 1980). The freshwater fishes of Iran have been more extensively studied by the Canadian ichthyologist, Brian W. Coad (1970-2013), from the Canadian museum of Nature, Ottawa. He is an international referee on freshwater fishes of Iran and his web site is the most comprehensive reference on the subject.
Fortunately, recently, several works have been carried out on Iran freshwater fishes, many of them listed in the “References” section. Among the recent works on inland water fishes of Iran, Abdoli (2000), Abbasi et al. (1999), Naderi-Jelodar and Abdoli (2004), Abdoli and Naderi (2008) should be mentioned. Abdoli (2000) is the first comprehensive and pictorial book on the subject in Persian. He introduced and photographed some 140 species from Iran. This book still is the most referred Persian book, both by experts and students.
The beautiful design of the book is the result of communication and discussion with several colleagues and experts. In this book we did our best to use the minimum text and present our work in a more pictorial manner. The signs and icons used for this purpose are explained in the prefatory pages. The text organization is as follows; a heading for English name(s), Persian name(s), local name(s) (in the Persian section), biology and distribution. Morphological and ecological information is briefly described in “Biology” heading. It should be mentioned that the description of the color is based on the more commonly observed color, but this characteristic is highly influenced by ecological conditions and could vary in different situations. Although the distribution of the species is indicated on the provincial map, the distribution of the species based on basins, is also noted in the “Distribution” heading. In the references, we mostly presented the literature published after year 2000 to keep the book pages in a manageable size.