Kufos manage to breed endangered Indian ornamental fish in captivity

Researchers from the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) have developed an artificial breeding technique for the Indigo style (Pethia setnai), an ornamental fish from western India that is threatened with extinction due to overfishing. The indigo woodpecker is a visually appealing species characterized by two vertical stripes on its olive-gray body. It has been found in freshwater streams in Goa and Karnataka. The price of the rare species is about 3 USD per fish plant in the international ornamental fish market. Due to high demand from ornamental fish lovers around the world, the species has become a target of the unregulated aquarium trade and its fauna is under pressure from tourism, urbanization, and agricultural pollution. The fish belongs to the endangered category of the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

 Kufos researchers in collaboration with the Goa-based Central Coast Agricultural Research Institute (CCARI)  conducted a two-year study to develop artificial breeding technology for indigo collectors. The research was led by Anvar Ali, associate professor of the Kufos Fisheries Department. CCRI supported the team in obtaining progeny (farmed fish) collected from freshwater streams in the backwaters of Goa. The team developed artificial breeding technology based on experiments at the Kufos hatchery. The species was reared in captivity with and without hormone induction under indoor and outdoor conditions, and larvae were reared in a mixed zooplankton culture.  With this simple grower-friendly technique, it is possible to produce more than 75-100 juveniles from a mother fish. Ali said fish farmers had to use an 80-day process to commercially produce indigo fingerlings in artificial ponds and bring them to market. The package of practices developed by Kufos for indigo seed production would provide alternative livelihoods to local communities in Goa and eventually in other parts of the country, Kufos said in a release. The  Kufos Project Implementation Unit was supported by the Government of Kerala from its Plan Fund. Besides Ali, the research team included Melbinlal, a junior researcher, CCARI researcher Sreekanth G.B. and Trivesh Mayekar.

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