(Rhodeus), any of several small, carplike fish of the family Cyprinidae noted for their unusual manner of breeding. Native to clear, stony streams of central and southern Europe, the bitterling is a silvery fish of little economic value, about 5 to 7.5 centimetres (2 to 3 inches) long. It spawns between April and June. At this time, the male develops an orange belly and reddish fins, while the female develops a long, tubular ovipositor, which inserts into the incurrent respiratory siphon of a freshwater clam or mussel and by which she deposits her eggs in the gill chamber of the mollusk. There, they are fertilized by sperm ejected by the nearby male and drawn by the mollusk into the gill chamber along with water for respiration.
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