Khammam: A strange looking fish found in a tank at Narsimhulugudem village of Kusumanchi mandal in the district on Sunday raised the curiosity of the locals. Fisherman Degala Veeraiah of the village who caught the fish said he had never seen such a fish, weighing 600 grams, in the tank. Though the fish was not a local species, the locals call it ‘Dayyam Chapa’.
Speaking to Telangana Today, Dr Joe K Kizhakudan, a Principal Scientist at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, said the fish was ‘Amazon Sailfin Catfish’ (Pterygoplichthys pardalis). It is a fresh water tropical fish in the armored catfish family (Loricariidae) and is one of a number of species commonly referred to as the common pleco and grows to a maximum length of 49 centimetres.
The Sailfin Catfish is sometimes confused with the Suckermouth Catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus), another armored catfish species. The two species can be distinguished by the number of dorsal rays (fins), he said. While Sailfin catfish has 11 to 13 dorsal rays, the suckermouth catfish has only 5 to 8 dorsal rays.
The species is native to the Amazon River Basin in Brazil and Peru. It is a bottom dwelling fish with the ability to breathe air from the surface of the water in dry periods and when oxygen was low. “The sailfin catfish is an invasive species which competes and occupies space with local species. It was found in Manipur and other north eastern States, and might have been accidentally introduced by the aquarium industry while breeding the exotic fish” Dr Kizhakudan explained.
Amazon sailfin catfish was deemed to be ecologically detrimental as they breed and disturb aquatic food-chains leading to decline in native aquatic species, degrading aquatic plants and banks of water bodies by burrowing and tunneling, he added.
However, a senior scientist at Fisheries Research Station (FRS), Palair, G Vidya Sagar Reddy, maintained that it was a Suckermouth Catfish that they had also found in Palair reservoir a few weeks ago. He said the fish was now being grown in an aquarium at the FRS. The fish found at the village may have been dropped into the tank by an aquarist, he said, adding that they may experiment with the fish for cleaning the algae deposited in the fish cages at Palair reservoir.
“We will acquire a few more such fishes, release them into the cages to see whether they could clean the cages by eating algae”, Reddy said.
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