Inhabit warm, deep, slow-flowing and still waters such as lowland rivers and large, well vegetated lakes. Generally favor large water bodies with slow flowing or standing water and soft bottom sediments. Thrive in large turbid rivers. Most active at dusk and dawn. Both adults and juveniles feed on a variety of Benthic zone (waterfloor level) organisms and plant material. Adults often undertake considerable spawning migration to suitable backwaters and flooded meadows. River regulation caused continuous decline of wild populations. Utilized fresh and frozen.
Europe to Asia: Black, Caspian and Aral Sea basins. Introduced throughout the world. Wild stocks are only present naturally in rivers draining to the Black, Caspian and Aral Sea. A wild population in the Danube assumed to be the origin of the European species is now under threat.Great part of the production is cultivated in ponds.