The characteristic features of any four fishes of Karnataka
The state of Karnataka is gifted with plenty of water resources both fresh water as well as marine. It has a long costal line and a number of rivers like Cauvery, Sharavathy, Kabini. etc., flow across the state. All these are very rich in a variety of edible fishes. The following is a description of the edible fishes of Karnataka. The major types of edible fishes are carps and cat fishes.
Carps are generally soft finned fresh water fishes that possess large scales on their body. There are a number of carps that belong to the following types.
This fish is found distributed in almost all the rivers. At maturity it attains a maximum length of about 180cms but it is suitable as a food with high nutritive value when it is about 60 cms in length. The body of the fish is stout and has a broad snout. The mouth is large having a prominent lower lip with a large gill apparatus. The fins on the body of the fish are somewhat dark in colour.
The colour of the body is grayish on the dorsal side while it is a shiny silvery on the lateral surface. Catla is one of the dominant fishes of fresh water throughout India. It migrates to the rivers of plains during the breeding season (June to August). The larvae are about 4 to 5 mm in length. The young ones grow to 15 to 20 cms in length and feed on water fleas.
Systematic position of Catla:
The genus Labeo has a number of species of which Labeo rohita, L. calbasu, and L. gonius are important.
Labeo rohita is commonly called rohu. This is a very important carp fish distributed in the plains of India. A Fully grown rohu is more than 90 cms long. It has an elongated body with a projecting snout. The colour of the body is bluish or brownish green. The lips are thick and the fins are grey or blakish in colour.
The rohu fish has feebly developed barbies and herbivorous in its food habit. It is a bottom feeder with the body covered by cycloid scales. This is a most suitable fish for pond culture.
The rohu fish breeds during the monsoon period and the females have an enormous output of egg which is estimated to be 2 million eggs at a time. The young fish may reach a length of 45 cms.
Systematic Position of L. rohita.
This is one of the commonest fishes in the rivers of south India also found in Punjab, West Bengal etc., This is also a bottom feeding fish feeding on algae, vegetable matter, snails, worms etc. These are found in large numbers in the ponds. The body of these fishes is stout with a somewhat long conical head. One characteristic feature with this fish is the presence of elongated barbies and special colour of the cone. A fully grown fish may reach a length of 90 cms but in fish ponds they usually grow up to 25 to 30 cms per year with a maximum length of 42 cms.
Systematic position of L. calbasu
This is generally found in North India. But sometimes also found in the South Indian rivers like Krishna. It has a long body with smaller scales provided with dark margins. The lips are somewhat protruded and thick. This fish is also a bottom feeder and feeds on submerged or planktonic algae, organic matter, leaves of submerged plants etc. The fish is supposed to have a very good taste among all the carps. Like other Labeo fishes this also breeds during monsoon season.
Systematic position of L. gonius
Among the several species of Cirrhinus, two species are generally distributed uniformly. These are C.mrigala commonly called mrigala and C.reba commonly called reba.
It is generally a North Indian fresh water fish found in Punjab, West Bengal and Orissa, but also is a useful food fish of Kamataka. The body structure of mrigala fish is almost like rohu except for a very wide mouth and thin lips. The body has a characterstic colouration – it is orange on the ventral surface and dark grey on the dorsal surface. A fully grown fish ranges in length between 90 to 100 cms.
It has been estimated that the fish can grow more than 20 cms in about 6 to 8 months. The food habits of mrigala are like those of other carps. The food includes sand, mud, decaying vegetable matter, planktonic algae etc. The fishes attain maturity after about a year when they are ready for reproduction. The females however may mature earlier than a year. Breeding season is same as those for other carp fishes.
Systematic position of C. mrigala
Cirrhinus reba is another important cirrhina carp fish found distributed throughout the rivers of India. The fish attains a maximum length of 30 cms with males smaller than the females. The fish feeds on planktonic algae, zoo planktons, mud, decaying vegetable matter etc. However the adult fish seem to be entirely vegetarian.
The characteristic features of the reba include hexagonal scales, dark colouration and a small narrowing head.
Systematic position of C. reba
Apart from carps, the other important food fish of Karnataka are cat fishes. These are characterised by very small eyes with very well developed barbies. As they have a very powerful vision they easily move about rapidly and are given the name cat fish. Generally cat fish are distributed in rivuletes, streams, lakes, ponds etc. These fishes have a high nutritive value and can grow in water bodies with less amount of oxygen.
The following are some of the examples of cat fishes.
1. Wallago attu:
Commonly called fresh water sharks, these have a slender and elongated body with a length ranging between 60 to 90 cms. Under favourable growth conditions they may even reach the length of 185 cms. Wallago is a very nutritive and tasty fish and can be a good game fish also. In fish hatcheries it is known that wallago feeds on young carps. As such one has to be careful about the presence of the wallago fish in the stocking ponds.
The bodily features include a large mouth with very sharp teeth. The wallago fish is known to be a meat eater. It can even feed on human carcasses. The breeding of this fish is like other fishes, ie. during rainly season.
Systematic position of W. attu
The genus Mystus has several species of which the important ones are M. jeewghala (Tengra), M.aor (Dariai tengar) and Mcavasius (Sutahawa tengara).
Mystus seenghala is found distributed in river and rivuletes. It has also been reported in the North Indian Rivers like Ganga and Jamuna. This fish is a meat eater and is known to attack other small fresh water fish and prawns. The body has a brown dorsal surface and a shiny silvery lateral surface. At maturity it is known to attain a length of 46 cms. But there are instances where the fish may be as long as 180 cms and weighing nearly 10 kilograms. The breeding season of this fish is between April and July.
Systematic position of M. seenghala
Mystus aor has a bluish grey body with a whitish ventral surface that reaches a length of 90 cms. The fish is very widely distributed. Peculiarly in this fish is the female parent does not take part in caring for the offspring.
Systematic position of M.aor
Mystus cavasius is another common fresh water fish found throughout India. Adult fish has a body length up to 45 cms. It is one of the delicious foods of human beings. The body has a blakish dorsal surface and slightly yellowish ventral surface.
Systematic position of M. cavasius
3. Heteropneustes fossilis:
Commonly called singhi, this cat fish is found in rivers throughout India. The body is about 30 cms long with a wide flattened head. The pectorals of this fish are poisonous. Though they are carnivorous they normally do not feed on fish. Insects, worms, and other vegetable matter constitute the food. The fish breeds between April to June.
Systematic position of H. fossilis
4. Pangasius pangasius:
Found very widely distributed in the rivers this fish has an elongated body with a somewhat compressed head. The head is covered by a tender and soft skin. A fully grown fish may be as long as 120 cms. The fish is known to be carnivorous. It feeds on molluscs and also on carps. The breeding season of the fish is during monsoon.
Systematic position of P. pangasius
5. Clarias batrachus:
This is generally a semi aquatic fish found surviving in the mud but generally found in the fresh water ponds, lakes and rivers. Regarded as one of the delicious fish, it has an elongated body with a laterally compressed head. The colour of the body is reddish brown or greyish black. Known to attain a length of nearly 45 cms. The fish feeds on prawns, small insects, larvae and vegetable material like algae. The breeding season of the fish is between April to June.
Systematic position of C. batrachus