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A Check List on Distribution of Ornamental Fishes in Chilika Lagoon, East Coast of India

Durga Prasad Behera1*, Lakshman Nayak2

1 Research Scholar, P.G Department of Marine Sciences, Berhampur University, Odisha, India

2 Faculty in Marine Sciences, Berhampur University, Odisha, India

*Corresponding Author:
Durga Prasad BEHERA
P.G Department of Marine Sciences
Berhampur University, Odisha, INDIA-760007
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: 22.02.2013 Accepted date: 05.05.2013 Published date: 28.12.2013

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Chilika Lagoon in the Odisha Coast of India is one of the World’s unique biodiversity hot spot having international importance. It is the largest brackish water lagoon with estuarine character having its socioeconomic importance. The present study highlights on diversity of ornamental fish from four sector of Chilika lagoon namely Southern, Central, Northern and outer. A total number of 20 species representing 12 families of class Actinopterygii were iden-tified from four sector of Chilika Lagoon. The order Perciformes having highest occurrence in side the lagoon followed by order Cypriniformes, Siluriformes, Tetraodontiformes and Osteo-glossiforms. During study period it was observed that highest number ornamental fishes were found in Northern sector and central sector. These ornamental fishes have high economic val-ue if it is collected and maintained in aquarium then it will help the local fisher folk for their lively hood and development of their family.

Key words

East Coast, Chilika lagoon, Ornamental fishes


Ornamental fishes are characterized by a wide diversity of color pattern which is keeping in aquaria to relive pressure on daytoday materialis-tic life. The ornamental fish keeping is a popular hobby which is gradually replacing outdoor lei-sure activities and it is the second most hobby after photography Sing and Dey (2006). Accord-ing to psychiatrists, placing aquaria with orna-mental fishes in the patient’s viscinity could treat certain type of mental disorders Swain (2008). The marine ornamental fish trade has a significant role in the economy of developed and developing countries both as a foreign exchange earner and as a source of employment. The world ornamental fish trade is about 4.5 billion US $ while India’s contribution through export is only about 0.5 mil-lion US $. The United States of America alone imports ornamental fishes worth more than 500 million US $. In Holland, 20% of the houses maintain ornamental fishes, 14 % in UK, 8 % in USA, 5 % in Germany and 4 % in Belgium and Italy Sakthivel (2002). Asia is the major export-ing region accounting for 56% of the global ex-ports. India has joined the lead 10 Asian export-ing countries recently, contributing only 2% of the Asian export Kutty (2008) .According to in-formation available in Global Marine Aquarium data set a total of 1,471 species of marine orna-mental fishes are traded around the globe. Most of the species are associated with coral reefs. About 400 species of Ornamental fishes belong to 175 genera and 50 families are reported in Indian wa-ter but this figure is on rise as more numbers of survey are made in different location of the coun-try Satheesh, (2002). The brackish waters are home to an amazingly diverse and unique group of fishes, some of which are commonly available to keep in the home aquarium so in this juncture the Chilika Lagoon is the burning example for the occurrences of number of ornamental fishes in sector wise distribution. A number of surveys have been made for the estimation of ichthyofau-nal diversity in Lagoonecosystem ZSI (1995), Jhingran and Natarajan (1966), CDA (2004), Mo-hanty et al., (2007) Mohanty et al., (2006)but till now no research work has been attempted relat-ed to the diversity of ornamental fish resources of the lagoon. Therefore the present study is an attempt to make a checklist on occurrences of or- namental fishes in Chilika Lagoon and their dis-tribution. namental fishes in Chilika Lagoon and their dis-tribution.

Material and Methods

Study Area

Chilika is the largest pear shaped brackish wa-ter lagoon of Asia with captivating beauty, abun-dant biological resources and rich economic at-tributes and known for its rich source of fish sup-ply. It is situated in latitude 19°28'–19°54'N and longitude 85°06'–85°36'E. The water-spread area of the Chilika Lagoon varies from 1165 to 906 km2 during the monsoon and sum-mer respectively Siddiqui and Rao, (1995). A significant part of the freshwater and silt input to the lagoon comes from the Mahanadi river and its distributaries Mohanty et al., (1996). Based on its physical and dynamic characteristics, the lagoon is divided into four sectors (Fig.1). The northern sector receives discharge of the flood waters from the rivers. The southern sector is relatively small-er and does not show much seasonal variation in salinity. The central sector has features interme-diate between the features of the other sectors. The outer sector of the lagoon comprises of a 24-km narrow and curved channel that runs parallel to the coast to join the Bay of Bengal near Arakhakuda It stretched over three districts namely Puri, Khurda and Ganjam. It is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a barrier spit attached at its southern end (Venkataratnam, 1970). It is one of the hot spot of biodiversity in the country and inhabiting a number of endangered species listed in the IUCN Red list of threatened species (World Bank, 2005).


Figure 1: Map showing Study areas.


The ornamental fishes are collected by the help of dugout canoes or boat seines. The ge-ars are bag nets, scoopnets and cast nets from the different sector (Table 1). The collected fis-hes were kept in a bucket with battery operated aerator and transported to the laboratory. They are initially acclimatized to the tank environment. The healthy fishes were transfered to the marine research aquarium for further studies. The fis-hes were identified by using standard literature Talwar et al., (1992), Talwar and Jhingran, (1991), Fish Base (2003).


Table 1: Sampling site and total number of Marine ornamental fish recorded Chilika Lagoon

Results and Discussion

A total number of 20 species were recorded during the study period from the Chilika Lagoon. The order Perciformes has emerge as most domi-nant group and next to order Cypriniformes among these diverse coloured fish community. The maximum numbers were recorded during pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon aro-und northern sector of the lagoon. Among fishes species 13 species are fresh water in origin and rest 7 species are brackish and marine in nature (Table 2, Figure 2-21).


Table 2: Checklist of Ornamental fishes existing in four different sector of Chilika Lagoon


Figure 2-21: List of ornamental fish encounter in different sector of Chilika lagoon

Notopterus Notopterus (Pallas,1796)

Notopterus (Figure 2) is a fresh water fish, which was caught from Northern sector of the la-goon. It is commonly known as Asian knife fish, Ghost C and Bronze feather back. It mea-sured about 18.0 cm in length and 21.0 g in we-ight. It is very aggressive towards its own species and timid towards other larger fishes. It is a noc-turnal sps. It requires a very large well planted aquarium (Aquatic Community, 2009). It is dist- ributed in Southeast Asia. Bangladesh, Cambo-dia, India, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Labeo calbasu (Hamilton,1822)

Labeo calbasu (Figure 3) is a fresh water fish, which was caught from Northern sector of Chili-ka. It is commonly known as orange fin labeo. It measured about 32.0 cm and 42.6 g in weight. It is a potamodromous species (Talwar and Jhing-ran, 1991). It occurs in rivers and Ponds of India. It is distributed in Asia, India, Bangladesh, Ne-pal, Thailand, Myanmar and South Western Chi-na.

Labeo boga (Hamilton,1822)

Labeo boga (Figure 4) is a fresh water fish, caught from northern sector of the lagoon. It is commonly known as Red gilled violet shark. It measured about 35.0 cm and 45.3 g weight. It al-so occurs in small rivers and ponds (Aquatic Community, 2009). It is found in Asia. Pakistan, Nepal, India and China.

Chela cachius (Hamilton,1822)

Chela cachius (Figure 5) is commonly known as Silver hatchet. It is a benthopelagic in habit. It is found both in northern sector and central sector of Chilika Lagoon. It is also found in rivers and ponds. It occurs both fresh and brackish water. It measures 7.3 cm length and weighed about 12.0 g. though its common name is Silver hatchet, the species seemingly a plain silver fish when viewed in sun light. It helps far mosquito control (Me-non, 1999). It is distributed in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Nandus nandus (Hamilton,1822)

Nandus nandus (Figure 6) is commonly known as gangetic leaf fish. It is a high prized fish of its spinous fins and ugly black bands and blotches on the body. It is found most commonly in standing or sluggish waters of lagoon. It is also found in reservoirs and canals (Talwar and Jhing-ran, 1991). It is a benthopelagic in origin both fo-und in northern and central sector of Chilika la-goon. The fish measured 10.0 cm in total length and weighed 15.6 g. It is found in Pakistan, Thai-land and India (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Puntius sophore (Hamilton,1822)

Puntius sophore (Figure 7) is commonly known as pool barb. It is a fresh water fish which caught from northern sector of the lagoon. The spotted barbs are present in the body. The size of the species is 7 cm in total length and weighed about 13.2 g. It is found in Eastern India, Kerala, Sri Lanka and Nepal (Aquatic Community, 2009).

Mystus gulio (Hamilton,1822)

It is commonly known as mangrove cat fish (Figure 8). The species caught from central sec-tor. It lives in both fresh and brackish water. It is easily differentiated from the other species by the combination of its greyish silver colour and small adipose fins. In aquarium the species always swims above the bottom and feeds by olfactory sense rather than sites (Pethiyagoda, 1991). The size of the species is 8 cm in length and contains 11.0 g in weight. It is found in India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Mystus vittatus (Bloch)

(Figure 9). It caught from central sector. Its size is 12 cm in length and 15.8 g in weight. It can live both in fresh and brackish water. It is a demersal fish. Colour varies with age. It is gene-rally delicate grey silver to shinning golden with several pale blue or dark brown to deep black longitudinal on side. A narrow dusky spot often present on the shoulder (Pethiyagoda, 1991). It is distributed through Indian subcontinent area inc-luding Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Chelonodon patoca (Hamilton,1822)

It is commonly known as milk spotted puffer fish or gangetic puffer fish(Figure 10). It is a ma-rine fish. It caught from outer channel. Many of the fishes inhabit brackish and fresh water. Its si-ze is 19 cm in total length and weighed about 25.6 g. Many species are used in aquarium for decorating the room (Kottelat, 1993). It is distri-buted in tropical and subtropical areas of Atlan-tic, Indian and Pacific Ocean.

Scatophagus argus (Linnaeus)

Itis commonly known as scat or pavillon tach (Figure 11) . It is a freshwater fish which caught from northern side of the lagoon. The size of the species is 12.3 cm and weighed 18.0 g. It requires large aquarium, which is decorated in open pla-ces (Zipcode Zoo. Com). In aquarium it will eat anything, so called dung eater. It is found in Indo Pacific area, Japan, India and Fiji.

Pseudambassis ranga (Hamilton,1822)

It is commonly known as glassfish or Indian glassfish (Figure 12). It is a fresh water fish which caught from northern sector of the lagoon. The size of the species is 10.5 cm and 15.0 g in weight. This species can be kept in small aqua-rium (Aquatic Community, 2009). It is distribu-ted in Asia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Thailand.

Ophiocephalus gachua (Hamilton,1822)

It is commonly known as Asiatic Snake head (Figure 13). It is a freshwater species, which ca-ught from northern sector of the lagoon. The size of the species is 12.7 cm and 21.3 gm in weight. It requires large aquarium, which is decorated in open places (Aquatic Community, 2009). It is very aggressive in nature. It is distributed in In- dia, Southern part of China, eastern and western part of Pakistan.

Ophiocephalus punctatus (Bloch)

It is commonly known as spotted snake head fish (Figure 14). It is a freshwater and caught from northern side of the lagoon. The size of the species is 12.0 cm and 19.8 g in weight. It requi-res large aquarium with slow circulation of air. It tolerates low oxygen concentration because they are air breathers from early age. Adult fishes may die due to lack of oxygen. It is distributed in ri-vers of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Southern part of Nepal.

Therapon jarbua (Forskal)

It is commonly known as crescent Perch (Figure 15). It is found in coastal waters, mangroves and estuaries. It is found in rivers almost to fresh water. It is caught from northern sector of the la-goon. The size of the species is 18.5 cm and 25.6 g in weight. It may also found in marine and brackish water. In aquarium the juveniles are pe-aceful but active but as they mature become more solitary and aggressive and therefore less popular for aquaria. It is predatory in nature and also it will eat all the marine food from the aquarium. It is found in Japan, Western Pacific, South China sea, the Indian Ocean and the Red sea.

Puntius chola (Hamilton,1822)

It is commonly known as Swamp barb, chola barb (Figure 16). It is a freshwater fish which ca-ught from northern sector of the lagoon. The size of the species is 6.7cm in total length and we-ighed about 10.0 g. It occurs mainly in shallow waters (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). It is found in Asia. Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters)

It is commonly known as Tilapia species (Figure 17). It is a freshwater origin also seen in ri-vers. The main colouration is yellow, though co-louration is unreliable due to different feeding strategies (Popma, 1999). Tilapia species were released for the control of mosquitoes but failed to grow and stabilize mosquitoes populations and became a nuisance (Moyle, 1976). The size of the species is 15.0 cm in length and 25.2 g in weight. It is found in India, Japan and Pakistan.

Siganus javus (Hamilton)

It is commonly known as Rabbit fish (Figure 18). It is a marine fish which caught from central sector of the lagoon. The size of the species is 11.0 cm in total length and 18.7 g in weight. In aquarium it always swims in group. It also ac-commodates with the surgeon fishes in the mari-ne reef aquaria. It mostly prefers vegetable feed (Aquatic Community, 2009).It is found in Bang-ladesh, Sri Lanka and India.

Etroplus Suratensis (Bloch)

It is commonly known as Pearl spot found in brackish water but it known to tolerate fresh or marine water which caught from central sector (Figure 19). The size of the species 18 cm and 40 g weight. Feed on filamentous algae, plant mate-rial and insect. It is distributed in western Indian ocean, India and Srilanka (Fish base).

Dantnoide squadrifasciatus (Bleeker)

It is commonly known as known as trigger fish found in brackish water of which is caught from central sector(Figure 20) . The size of fish 60 cm in nature and 30 cm in captivity. The body color is gray white and the head may have an amber iridescence. The body is marked with se-ven black stripes. The first of these runs from the mouth to the eye where it forks with one part running to the back and the other toward the throat. The base of the caudal fin is marked with two black spots. The fins are transparent except for the pelvic fin which is white and black. It distributed in Asia and Australia; Borneo, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, the Ganges of India, Thailand and Sumatra (Fish base).

Plotosus arab (Bleeker)

Itis commonly known as cat fish found in ma-rine and brackish water of outer and central sec-tor (Figure 21). Body chestnut brown with 2 or 3 pale lateral bands, the superior one from above eyes along base of dorsal fin and the lower band from maxilla along middle of side of body. It is found in native to the Indian Ocean, the western Pacific Ocean and New Guinea.


Nature having a large number of ornamental fishes so a judicious exploitation of ornamental fishes from nature is required for sustainable de-velopment of the ornamental fishes. There is a warning for South-East Asian Countries, due to over exploitation of many fresh water ornamental fishes are endangered. Detailed studies on breed-ing, biology and behaviour aspects, nutrition and feed formulations, disease diagnosis and compre-hensive health management is highly essential for the conservation and proper management of the ornamental fishes. These would make it possible to exploit the potentials of ornamental fish cul-ture sector in the country to a greater extent in coming decades.


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