The IBA is located 27 km east of Buhara city near the Buhara – Kyzyltepe highway. The fish farm includes 5 ponds largely overgrown by reed. The reservoir has an average depth of 2.2 m. The mineral content of the water is variable. The northern and western parts of the fish farm have large reedbeds which are important for nesting waterbirds (Cygnus olor, egrets, dabbling duck and Plegadis falcinellus). The fish farm borders the Karnabchul steppe sands. Two km to the north-east is Tudakul reservoir which is the main place for migratory waterfowl and marsh birds in the region.
The geographical location and ecological conditions of the fish farm are very attractive to birds. Within a comparatively short period, a local ornithological fauna has already developed. 153 species have so far been recorded at Kagan Fish Farm and in its environs - 127 of these are waterbirds. 43 species breed in the area and the ponds are the main feeding area for these birds. During migration and in winter between 5,000 and 20,000 birds have been recorded. The IBA is especially important for several scrace species that breed regularly - Cygnus olor, Plegadis falcinellus, Egretta garzetta, Platalea leucorodia and the globally threatened Aythya nyroca. Four globally threatened species occur in winter or on migration - Oxyura leucocephala, Marmaronetta angustirostris, Pelecanus crispus and Haliaeetus leucoryphus.
Typical desert species in the surrounding area include Corvus corone, Corvus monedula, Coracias garrulus, Pterocles orientalis, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Galerida cristata, Merops apiaster, Merops superciliosus, several wheatears, Sylvia nana and Rhodospiza obsoletta.
The most numerous species in winter are Fulica atra (5,000 to 10,000), Netta rufina (5,000) and Aythya ferina (3,000). The most numerous breeding species are Phalacrocorax pygmaeus, Plegadis falcinellus, Platalea leucorodia and Egretta garzetta. Their combined breeding population is approximately 1,000 individuals.
Non-bird biodiversity: Gazella subgutturosa subgutturosa, included in both international and national Red Data books, occurs in the desert. Predators include Vulpes vulpes, Vulpes corsac, Felis lybica, Mustela eversmanni, Vormela peregusna and Meles meles. Rodents include Rhombomys optimus, Meriones tamariscinus, Ellobius tancrei, Nesokia indica, Allactaga elater, Allactaga severtzovi, Spermophilus fulvus, Lepus tolai and Erinaceus auritus.
Amphibians and reptiles include Rana ridibundus, Bufo viridis, Agrionemys horsfieldii, Natrix tesselata, Coluber karelini, Coluber tyria and C. ravergieri, Eryx miliaris, Psammophis lineolatus, Phrynocephalus helioscopus, Phrynocephalus interscapularis, Eremias lineolata, Eremias scripta, Trapelus sanguinolentus, Cyrtopodion caspius and Teratoscincus scincus. Fish are represented by Cyprinus carpio, Abramis brama, Rutilus rutilus, Channa argus, Carassius auratus and Hypophthalmichthys molitrix.
The flora has not been studied specially but includes species typical of damp areas of desert in the Bukhara region.
Habitat and land use
The ponds were created by flooding former gravel pits and the area of surface vegetation is small, with reeds occupying no more than 10% of the site. The adjoining area is desert with loamy and scattered saline soils. The only use of the ponds is for fishing with the adjoining land used as pasture. Only those areas with reed cover are suitable for nesting birds but the whole of the ponds are used for feeding and roosting by birds on migration and in winter.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Potential threats are those related to fishing (drowning in nets, over-fishing, disturbance) and overgrazing.