ICAR scientists discover new fish species in Mettur dam

The edible fish has been named after the Council as Pangasius icaria

September 30, 2022 07:43 pm | Updated 07:43 pm IST - CHENNAI

A new catfish species has been discovered in the river Cauvery near Mettur Dam. The edible species has been named Pangasius icaria (P. icaria) after Indian Council of Agricultural Research that discovered the species. The species belongs to the Pangasius genus.

Kuldeep Kumar Lal, director of ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetics Resources, said the genus Pangasius is found in the Gangetic plains but not in peninsular India. “For nearly two centuries it was known that Pangasius is represented by only one species in India as well as South Asia and is called Pangasius Pangasius. Around 50 years ago, there was confusion that the species had migrated to peninsular India and did not become like other species,.” he said.

A number of species have developed from the same genus and travelled to peninsular India but not Pangasius.

“In 2017 we discovered another species of Pangasius in Krishna River. In 1946 an article by a fish scientist spoke of the possibility of the species in Stanley reservoir of Mettur Dam. We wanted to know if in Cauvery Pangasius is available and if it is the same species as in Krishna River. We collected from fishermen and studied it. We found that it is different from that found in Krishna,” Mr. Lal said.

The researchers analysed the fish morphologically, conducted skeleton radiography and used computational techniques that the specimen from Cauvery was distinct from other species of the same genus.

“As a genus the species is cultivable. For a long time now India is cultivating a Vietnamese species. Our own species may be easy to handle and must be studied for their market value, aquaculture potential as it is a food fish,” Mr. Lal explained.

Understanding its biological composition would help to breed it in captivity. “It a new component of biodiversity that gives way to future research, evaluation and conservation,” he added.

T.T. Ajith Kumar, Principal Scientist, said India has so far recorded only 3,000 species and there are many more undocumented species waiting to be discovered.

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