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Exotic Fishes

Dr. Shivani Gupta, PGGCG-11, Chandigarh

Introduction
-A vast majority of the 300 exotic species introduced into the country are ornamental fish remaining more or less confined to aquaria. Others have been introduced in aquaculture and open water systems with varying degrees of success. -Three larvicidal fish, i.e. Lebistes reticulatus, Nothobranchus sp. and Gambusia affinis, were introduced to contain insect larvae in confined waters. -Silver carp and the three varieties of common carp were brought into the country with the objectives of broadening the species spectrum in aquaculture and increasing the yields through better utilization of trophic niches. -In recent years, the bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis) and O. niloticus have been reported from the culture systems of eastern India. - Oreochromis mossambicus, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Cyprinus carpio communis, -C. carpio specularis and C. carpio nudus have entered the reservoir ecosystem through accidental or deliberate stocking. Among them, tilapia, silver carp and common carp could be detrimental to the fisheries in various reservoirs in the country. Cases of naturalization of Gambusia affinis in reservoirs are rare. In Markonahalli reservoir, the species has developed as a breeding population and is reported to be affecting the larval stages of commercially important fishes.

Tilapia
-The

Introduction

tilapia (O. mossambicus) was first introduced into the pond ecosystem of the country in 1952 and it was shortly thereafter stocked in the reservoirs of south India. By the end of the 1960s, most of the reservoirs in Tamil Nadu and those in the Palakkad and Trissur districts of Kerala were regularly stocked with tilapia. The performance of tilapia in south Indian ponds has been discouraging mainly because of early maturity, continuous breeding, overpopulation and dwarfing of the species. According to reports, it matures at an age of 75 days when it is 6 cm in length, and breeds at monthly intervals under tropical conditions. The warm waters of the tropical reservoirs in India provide an ideal habitat for tilapia and it has secured a niche in a number of south Indian reservoirs. Concerns regarding its stunted growth have been allayed as the average size of tilapia did not decline as much as it did in ponds.

Introduction
-O. mossambicus was introduced in India at a time when inland fisheries contributed negligibly to the total fish production in the country and at the outset of the ecosystem management. Today, a number of indigenous species are available for stocking in order to broaden the species spectrum, bridge the gaps in niche utilization and increase the yield. With the exception of very few reservoirs, tilapiadominated fishery invariably leads to low yields. In many reservoirs such as Krishnagiri and Vaigai, production has been erratic because of the unpredictable behaviour of tilapia owing to competition with other fish. Fishery managers of India are striving to change the dominant position of tilapia wherever it occurs. Given the present situation, tilapia is not among the species preferred for stocking in Indian reservoirs. -O. niloticus has not yet been introduced to the reservoir ecosystem in India. Confined to the estuarine and freshwater wetlands of eastern India, the species has registered an impressive growth of 250 g in 6 months. Since this species is not reported to have problems of stunted growth and prolific breeding, it will probably play a more positive role than that of O. mossambicus in Indian reservoirs.

Introduction
Silver carp
-Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) was introduced in India in 1959 and, unlike tilapia, did not stray into many reservoirs. However, silver carp has attracted more attention from ecologists and fishery managers, generating a more animated debate. The significance of silver carp in reservoirs is mainly because of: 1) its reported ability to utilize Microcystis; 2) its impressive growth rate; and 3) its propensity to affect indigenous species, especially Catla catla.

Introduction
Silver Carp
-The idea of stocking silver carp in reservoirs was abandoned following experimental introductions in the Kulgarhi (Madhya Pradesh) and Getalsud (Bihar) reservoirs. The most impressive reported performance of silver carp was in the Gobindsagar reservoir, where, following an accidental introduction, the species formed a breeding population and brought about a phenomenal increase in fish yields. Silver carp was instrumental in incrementing the fish production from the reservoir from 160t in 1970-71 to 964t in 1992-93. It is significant to note that despite its entry into a number of Indian reservoirs, by accident or otherwise, silver carp failed to become naturalized anywhere except Gobindsagar. The reservoir, with its temperate climate, is closer to the original habitat of the species and has a distinctly cold water hypolimnion owing to the discharge from Beas. In this reservoir, silver carp seems to have found a congenial habitat for growth and propagation. Although the introduction of silver carp was never cleared by the Committee of Experts constituted by the Government of India, the fish is being stocked in a number of reservoirs in the country, but so far has not had the same success in any other reservoir as it did in Gobindsagar. Therefore, fears regarding the threat of catla extinction in the Gangetic and peninsular areas of India because of silver carp are possibly groundless

Common carp

Introduction

-The three varieties of the Prussian strain of common carp, i.e. the scale carp
(Cyprinus carpio communis), the mirror carp (C. carpio specularis) and the leather carp (C. carpio nudus), were introduced in India in 1939. During the 1950s they were stocked in several high altitude ponds and lakes. In 1957 the Chinese (Bangkok) strain of the common carp was brought into the country, primarily for aquacultural purposes, because of its warm water adaptability, easy breeding, omnivorous feeding habits, good growth and hardy nature. Like tilapia, common carp soon found its way to all types of reservoirs in the country..

Introduction
Common Carp

-The relative ease with which the fish could breed in controlled conditions
prompted the departmental fish farms throughout the country to produce the seed of common carp in large numbers and to stock it in the reservoirs. However, these stocking attempts lacked any ecological considerations. The Bangkok strain of common carp has been stocked in a large number of reservoirs in the plains while the European strain was introduced in the reservoirs of temperate zones and at high altitudes. Their performance in reservoirs is erratic despite heavy stocking. -Following its introduction in some of the upland lakes of Kumaon Himalayas, the Dal Lake in Kashmir, Gobindsagar, and the reservoirs of the Northeast, the mirror carp threatened the survival of a number of native fish species

Introduction
Other exotic species
The exotic carp, being considered for introduction in the country are the bighead carp (A. nobilis), already introduced unofficially, the mud carp (Cirrhinus molitorella), and the snail carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus). -All of them infringe on the food niche of the economic carp species of India and the alien species were likely to cause the extinction of their native counterparts.

Mud Carp

Introduction
Other exotic species
Big Head Carp

Snail Carp