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For instance, in the case of the African catfish, identifying “recruitment areas” from where invasive fish fingerlings could be dispersing to other connected habitats such as swamps and wetlands (habitats with standing vegetation and slush where the catfish thrives very well and breeds) could be important, added Basheer. These post-flood field surveys revealed that fishers had caught arapaima and gar from four flood-affected rivers in Kerala: the Periyar, Muvattupuzha, Kurumali and Chalakkudy. Arapaima which is one of the rare fishes species that can breathe air from the atmosphere. Additionally, arapaimas are air-breathers, a feature that could help them survive even in polluted habitats. They also feature large scales. The arapaima and gar are dedicated parents too: their active care of their young increases the survival of their broods. And the team recorded only six arapaima and gar in total: a number that seems barely enough to ‘threaten’ river systems. The illegally-introduced species is fast becoming a major concern in the state, says Basheer, who is part of an NBFGR project to study the impacts of exotic fish species in Indian waters, “Populations of African catfish are rapidly increasing in some waterbodies in Kerala, such as the Mattupetty, Aanayirangal and Periyar reservoirs of Idukki district,” he says. Tank-raised so they are much more tolerable of water conditions compared to specimens imported. Considered one among the largest fresh water fishes, Arapaima also comes with a monstrous price tag at Rs 5 lakh. * The arapaima fish from Amazon can grow to gain 200 kg, while alligator gar of the US can weigh 137 kg. Trade in both the species is barred in India. The Arapaima is a very large fish that dwells in the Amazon river basin. Clear definitions of when a species is invasive in the real sense and causes ecosystem- and fisheries-level impacts are also crucial, he said. It is also known to be a vicious predator. Arapaima (L) and alligator gar (R), two alien fish species found in Kerala’s rivers after the 2018 floods. Call 1-877-367-4377 to order! Additionally, arapaimas are air-breathers, a feature that could help them survive even in polluted habitats. Size is about 5 inches roughly. "Arapaima is the star of our show. But not all exotic species become invasive, cautions Nachiket Kelkar from the Ashoka Trust for Research, Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) in Bengaluru, who has studied fish communities in the Western Ghats and north India. At the state level, multiple government departments such as revenue, fisheries and district administrations would have to come together along with research institutes, the forest department and local authorities to implement management interventions, said Basheer. Also find here related product comparison | ID: 20067869648 The presence of these alien fish – which are being farmed illegally in the state – could bode ill for Kerala’s native fish diversity, claim the scientists. For instance, in the case of the African catfish, identifying “recruitment areas” from where invasive fish fingerlings could be dispersing to other connected habitats such as swamps and wetlands (habitats with standing vegetation and slush where the catfish thrives very well and breeds) could be important, added Basheer. And the team recorded only six arapaima and gar in total: a number that seems barely enough to ‘threaten’ river systems. While alligator gar can measure up to three metres in length, arapaima is five metres long and weigh up to a whopping 200 kg. The Arapaima or Paicheis one of the largest species of freshwater fishes. There is a list of species that are prohibited from being imported into India, and the alligator gar does fall in this category, said Aneish P. Rajan, Kerala Joint Commissioner Customs (Preventive). Physical removal of catfishes from these areas would also help counter the situation, he suggested; in Periyar, the NBFGR along with the Periyar Foundation has taken up a programme to remove African catfish from the lake by involving tribal fishermen, he said. It measured six feet long and weighed a whopping 41 kilograms. Image credit: Smrithy Raj. Banner image: An alligator gar caught from a river in Kerala after the 2018 floods. The arapaima is a river fish that appears in late summer.It was not present in Animal Forest, but appeared in subsequent games, and it will only appear between the hours of 4pm and 9am.Its rarity attributes to its sell price of 10,000 Bells.Its shadow size is huge, and likewise it is the largest river fish. However, there are no studies on the actual impacts these species could have on freshwater systems in India. Arapaima (L) and alligator gar (R), two alien fish species found in Kerala’s rivers after the 2018 floods. Arapaima is a non-migratory fish and it’s stationary in the Amazon River; the Arapaima hunts and swims within a 100km radius of its birth location. Alligator gar too are formidable predators; they are piscivorous generalists with an affinity towards live fish, said Raghavan, an assistant professor at KUFOS. Photo from Smrithy Raj. Nevertheless, lack of mechan-isms for implementing and enforcing these provisions facilitates the illegal farming of top predators like arapaima and alligator gar in Kerala… Kumar, who documented how ornamental exotic South American suckermouth armoured catfishes (genus Pterygoplichthys) were invading the drain networks of Thiruvananthapuram city in a study in 2015, found that traders and aquarium hobbyists were releasing these fish into drains when they grew too large for their aquariums or tanks. A couple of photos and videos making rounds on social media suggest that an Arapaima, a genus native to the Amazon and Essequibo basins of South America was caught by some locals from the Chalakudy river in Thrissur District. Alligator gar in Kerala’s waters could indeed be a potential concern because the species is primarily carnivorous and can feed on native fish, said V. S. Basheer, principal scientist at Kochi’s National Bureau of Fish Genetics Resources (NBFGR). “No new licenses should be given to farms for importing alien species,” he added. There are news reports of alligator gar sightings from waterbodies in the states of Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The team called for an urgent need to develop and implement a nationwide ‘alien species management and eradication scheme’. “To be billed as an invasive, the species must proliferate to unnatural abundances in the habitats where they get naturalised, and also outcompete other species,” he wrote in an email. Mongabay-India is a conservation and environment news and features service that aims to bring high quality, original reports from nature’s frontline in India. “However, there is no data on this, as most of the farms that were growing these fish are illegal and no one has background information on the number of fish stocked in these ponds along these flood plains.”. But this diversity is at risk due to ‘fugitive’ fish such as the arapaima and gar that escaped from aquaculture facilities … CITES approved for export. ‘Tankbusters’ – fish that are capable of outgrowing most domestic aquaria — are a problem too. Arjun (of Thiruvananthapuram’s Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management) and Unmesh Katwate and Rajeev Raghavan (of Kochi’s Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies – KUFOS) – also obtained information on the presence of the alligator gar, another fish never recorded in Kerala’s waters before. The head of the arapaima is copperish-green in color, their bodies are black with a white center and their tails are red. So are many illegally-introduced species (such as the red-bellied pacu and African catfish), which do not figure in the list of 92 species permitted to be imported into the country as per the guidelines laid down by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries. 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