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GIZANI - Ladigesocypris ghigii

ghizani "it" / ghizani "fr" / ghizani "es" / γκιζάνι "el"

Ladigesocypris ghigii* (Pisces, Cyprinidae), commonly called gizani, is a small freshwater fish, endemic to the Greek island of Rhodes. It owes both its common and scientific name to the Italian professor Alessandro Ghigi, who first discovered it on Rhodes at the beginning of the 20th century.

Gizani is a Lilliputian champion of survival, since it manages to live in the extremely unstable environment of the streams of Rhodes, which may flood during winter, but they dry up for most of their length during the dry season.

Its life span is short (it lives up to three years in the wild), it feeds on a great variety of food items and reproduces in the spring and early summer, producing many larvae.
Gizani is one of the most endangered freshwater fish of Europe, since one of its populations has recently become extinct (at lake Nani), and most of the remaining populations exhibit persistent declining tendencies.

Both the European and the Greek legislation protect gizani. It is listed in Annex II of the European Union Directive for Habitats Protection (92/43/EEC) as an endangered species of top priority, as well as in the Red Book of Endangered Species of Greece. It is also protected by Presidential Decree No 67/1981 of the Greek State.

Geographic Distribution

Gizani inhabits most of the streams, springs and small water reservoirs of Rhodes island.
In the past, gizani populations were recorded in the streams of Loutanis, Gadouras and Argiros, at the area of Psinthos (Pelemonis river system), in an artificial water reservoir at Agia Eleoussa village, in the area of Asklipion village (Kontaris stream), in the lake of Nani, as well as in the artificial lake Apolakkia and inflowing streams.

New data (collected during the gizani LIFE-Nature project), showed that the fish is extinct in lake Nani, while it doesn't occur in the artificial lake of Apolakkia and in the Platis and Asklipios streams.

Gizani presence was confirmed in all the rest of the water systems mentioned above. Furthermore, populations not previously recorded, were discovered in the streams of Chas, Makaris, Lardos (in the eastern part of the island), Kremastinos and Paradisiotis (in the western part). Translocation of gizani from Loutanis and Gadouras streams to two water reservoirs of Atsaka area was also recorded.


Gizani is a small-bodied cyprinid. It usually lives up to three years. It reaches a maximum length of 10-12 centimetres, but most fish found in the wild are 3-5 cm long. It weighs only a few grams. Its colour is silvery grey, darker at the back and lighter at the abdomen.

The fish is very tolerant to low winter water temperatures (~10 °C), as well as high summer (~30 °C) temperature conditions. It prefers slow running waters and usually hides near the banks, under rocks or roots of plants, or amongst algae.

Gizani exhibits an opportunistic feeding behaviour, as it feeds on a great variety of food items. Its diet comprises mostly plant (algae, aquatic plants), and less, animal material (aquatic invertebrates and insect larvae).

Reproduction has also an opportunistic character in gizani. It reproduces serially (i.e., the same individual spawns more than once in a reproductive season) in spring and at the beginning of summer. The duration of the spawning season differs, depending on the biotope and the year. Usually in biotopes with not much water (like the Apolakkia streams), as well as in the rest of the streams during dry years, gizani's reproductive period is prolonged until even the end of summer.
The prolonged reproductive season possibly reflects a biological attempt by the species to overcome the adverse environmental conditions and/or the low density of the population.

Based on the large numbers of larvae and juveniles found in the wild towards the end of spring and in the beginning of each summer, gizani does not seem to face any serious breeding bottleneck. Thus, captive breeding and subsequent stocking actions are not recommended as a principal conservation tool for this species. The main threat to all gizani population is the loss of typical habitats, because of water abstraction and drought.