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Baikal fishes

The majority of Baikal sculpins belong to the bottom fish of the Baikal. The whole appearance and behavior of these fish characterize them as bottom dwellers. These small fish are poor swimmers. Their body shape is adapted to live on the ground, among rocks, under which they find shelter. The camouflaging coloration of the sculpins is also adapted to live on the bottom: It is similar to the coloration of the ground. Fish living in the water column, on the contrary, show signs of good swimmers: streamlined body shape and powerful muscles, prominent tail fin. The coloration of most of them is also adapted to their living conditions: they have a darker upper (dorsal) half and a silvery lower (ventral) half of the body. The Baikal lobster fish, an inhabitant of the water column, is peculiar. It differs in its translucent body. This fish is a poor swimmer, and most of the time it seems to "float" on its huge and delicate pectoral fins. Their pelvic fins are not developed. All in all, there are 50 known species of fish in Baikal. Among them, there are endemics, i.e. species found only in Baikal, and species widely spread in fresh waters. 

The first ones include mainly the fish of the suborder of sculpins (cattoides). 35 species and varieties of these small fish are known only in Baikal, and two of them are distinguished by ichthyologists into special endemic for Baikal holomyankov family. Different species of Baikal gobies differ greatly in their way of life. Most of them are typical bottom dwellers, known locally as shirokolobok (see inset page 128). A few species can be found in the coastal strip at shallow depths. The larger-headed and stone-sided Broad-billed Diver is found on rocky substrates, and the sandy-sided Diver is found on sandy substrates. Broad-breasted Sand Plovers are common throughout the whole of Baikal. 
Coastal armworms feed on crustaceans, amphipods and partly on other bottom invertebrates. Many of them lie in wait for their prey, camouflaging on the bottom. They are able to change coloration depending on: the nature of lighting and color of the ground. With depth the diversity of species and varieties of Broad-billed shrews increases. At greater depths live shirokolobki genera asprokottus, cottinella and abyssokottus. Representatives of the latter two occur even at the greatest depths of Lake Baikal. These are the deepest among the freshwater fishes of the globe. They have pale yellowish-grayish coloration, very small or, on the contrary, very large "telescopic" eyes protruding from their orbits - a consequence of living in the dark. Some broadheads show a tendency to transition to life in the water column, such as sand and greasy broadheads. Representatives of the genus Cattocomeforus have already become inhabitants of the depths of the open Baikal. These fish have acquired a more streamlined shape and "pelagic" type of coloration. However, their pectoral fins still play the role of supporting planes (gobies have no swim bladder) and are very large. In male gobies, during the breeding season, they are colored bright yellow.

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