Exotic fish spotted in Kerala after floods

Exotic fish spotted in Kerala after floods
Some of the photos of exotic fish Arapaima caught from Kerala waterbodies doing the rounds on social media.

Kochi: Several exotic fish species, which were imported to Kerala, have escaped from their aquafarms during the August deluge. However, some of these varieties pose threat to the state’s aquatic ecology as they grow in waterbodies, according to a study.

Some of these gill-bearing creatures have been illegally brought into the country, points out the report, calling for a ban on the commercial activity in such cases.

The study, which is to be submitted to the state government, was carried out by Kerala University dean Prof A Bijukumar and Dr Rajeev Raghavan of Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies in association with Bangalore-based National Institute of Advanced Studies.

The 'dangerous' fish, bred in the state’s aquariums and farms, are alligator gar, arapaima, arowana, African catfish, common carp, giant gourami, grass carp, kissing gourami, coy carp, goldfish, shark catfish, red-bellied pacu, sailfin, tilapia and three-spot gourami. They have been spotted in the state’s rivers and other water bodies.

Key points from the report

* Never before has Kerala’s water bodies been found carrying so many varieties of foreign-origin fish.

* The arapaima fish from Amazon can grow to gain 200 kg, while alligator gar of the US can weigh 137 kg. Both survive on small fish.

* Both arapaima and alligator gar have been found in the Periyar and Chalakudy rivers, posing major risk to small fish. Trade in both the species is barred in India.

* Farming African catfish (called mushi) is also illegitimate.

* The red-bellied pacu, found now in the Vembanad lake and adjoining kole fields that harvest paddy in summers, consumes oysters in a big way.

* There should be a ban on such fish.

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