TENCH (Tinca vulgaris), a small fish of the Cyprinid family, which is one of the commonest and most widely spread freshwater fishes of Europe.
As the tench is of comparatively uncommon occurrence in unenclosed waters, its place among the indigenous fishes of Great Britain has been denied, and it has been supposed to have been introduced from the Continent; a view which, however, is not supported by any evidence, and is practically disposed of by the fact that fossil remains of the fish are found in the Pleistocene deposits of Great Britain.
In central Europe it thrives best in enclosed, preserved waters, with a clayey or muddy bottom and with an abundant vegetation; it avoids clear waters with stony ground, and is altogether absent from rapid streams. The tench is distinguished by its very small scales, which are deeply imbedded in a thick skin, whose surface is as slippery as that of an eel.
Tench if kept in suitable waters are extremely prolific, and as they grow within a few years to a weight of 3 or 4 lb, and are then fit for the table, they may be profitably introduced into ponds which are already stocked with other fishes, such as carp and pike.
This variety, which seems to have been originally bred in Silesia, is not less well-flavoured than the normally coloured tench, and grows to the same size, viz., to 6 and even 8 lb.
The tench is really an excellent fish for the table, if kept in cool, clear water for a few days, as it is the custom to do in Germany, in order to rid it of the muddy flavour imparted to it by its favourite abode.
Albinos seem to be rather common; and as in other fishes (for instance, the tench, carp, eel, flounder), the colour of most of these albinos is a bright orange or golden yellow; occasionally even this shade of colour is lost, the fish being more or less pure white or silvery.
For descriptions of other Cyprinids than the carp, see Goldfish, Barbel, Gudgeon, Rudd, Roach, Chub, Dace, Minnow, Tench, Bream, Bleak, Bitterling, Mahseer.
Large numbers of fish, principally carp, pike and tench are still reared profitably, the pools being periodically dried up and the ground cultivated.
Ruthenus), the tench, the gudgeon and other fluvial species also appear in immense numbers.
In the days of medieval abbeys, when the provident Cistercian monks attached great importance to pond culture, they gave the first place to the tench and bream, the carp still being unknown in the greater part of Europe.
Among European freshwater fishing-grounds, the Danube is only surpassed by the Volga; the most valuable fish being sturgeon and sterlet, mostly netted in the St George mouth; carp, often weighing 50 lb; pike, perch, tench and eels.
Salmon, lampreys and eels are caught in some of the larger rivers; trout abound in the streams of the northern provinces; but many fresh-water fish common elsewhere in Europe, including pike, perch, tench and chub, are not found.
The albino variety especially, which is known as the "golden tench," can be recommended for ornamental waters, as its bright orange colours render it visible for some distance below the surface of the water.