Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

Age, Growth, and Fisheries of Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Val., 1844) in Gobindsagar Reservoir, India

Hamid Reza Esmaeili, Mohinder Singh Johal


Silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Val., 1844) is recognized throughout the world because of its versatility in aquaculture operations. Silver carp has ranked first in the global fish production for the last 10 years, at 3,146,410 metric tons in 1997 (FAO 1999). The share of China, the world’s most populous country in this production, was 3,070,465 metric tons (97.59%), and India produced only 12% (3,809 metric tons) of the world’s total production (FAO 1999). This carp species represents the Chinese lowland faunistic complex and occurs naturally in the river systems of the south and central China (Yangtze, West, Kwangsi, Kwangtung, and Pearl rivers) and in the Amur River drainage of the former USSR (Li and Fang 1990). The Yangtze River in China harbors the most important natural population of this carp (Lu and Li 1997). There are now 84 records of the introduction of silver carp into the 73 countries, and the fish is now established in more than 35 countries. Aquaculture, stocking, establishment of wild population, filling a vacant niche, experimentation, sport, and use of its pituitary extracts have been the main reasons for its introduction (Welcomme 1988; Johal and Esmaeili 2000).

Silver carp is considered an excellent candidate for culture. In the countries where it has been introduced, fishery biologists have studied various characteristics of this fish as well as native fishes: reproductive biology (Kamilov et al. 1994; Kamilov and Salikhov 1996; Kamilov and Komrakova 1999), use for algal control (Liberman 1996), capacity for the digestion of plankton (Voros et al. 1997; Domaizon et al. 2000), length–weight relationship (Pandey and Sharma 1998), and age determination using urohyal bone and postcleithrum (Johal et al. 2000a, 2000b). Such studies are useful for increasing fish production both in capture and fisheries culture and in minimizing the impact of introductions on the native fish fauna.

This paper deals with the age, growth, and fishery of this exotic Chinese fish in Gobindsagar Reservoir, India, where silver carp has shown the maximum potential for establishment out of its native range. Because the introduction of silver carp has drastically altered the ichthyofaunal composition of the reservoir, the present study may suggest strategies for managing this fishery in the near future.

The freshwater resources of this water body support excellent fish fauna. Fifty-one species have been recorded from this reservoir and its rivulets (Bhatnagar 1973; Johal et al. 1998), dominated by Cyprinidae (60%), followed by Balitoridae (10%), Cobitidae (8%), Sisoridae (6%), Schilbeidae (4%), Chanidae (4%), Bagridae (2%), Belonidae (2%), Mastacembelidae (2%), and Salmonidae (2%). The fish species spectrum of the reservoir is distinct because of the subtemperate climate and the zoogeographic affiliations with the Himalayan region. Commercially important fishes of this reservoir are silver carp, common carp Cyprinus carpio, grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella, catla Catla catla, rohu Labeo rohita, calabasu Labeo calbasu, kalabans Labeo dero, giant river catfish Aorichthys seenghala, golden mahseer Tor putitora (Hamilton), and mrigal Cirrhinus mrigala. Regular commercial fishing is conducted under the strict supervision of the Himachal Pradesh Fisheries Department.