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Fish Faunal diversity of the rivers of maharashtra

14 September 2014 Comments::DISQUS_COMMENTS



We surveyed the freshwater fish fauna of western Maharashtra on a survey trip as a group of four members conducted during the month of last December 2012. We recorded many species of fishes both endemic and rare.

About Eight endemic fish species are known to be threatened because of various anthropogenic activities and invasion of exotic fishes like guppy and gambusia. This survey trip was conducted based upon a mega project handed over by MPEDA to Mr.Heikobleher a well know German explorer and also a finder of new species of fish and introduction them to aquarium hobby. I also took part in this survey trip based upon my personal interest in fish taxonomy and to look out for new species and to study the fish ecology. The Western Ghats of India has a rich freshwater fish fauna with a high level of endemism (Shaji et al. 2000; Dahanukar et al. 2004). However, current knowledge of the threats faced by Western Ghats fishes suggests that a major part of this fauna is threatened by human activities and invasive alien fish species (Dahanukar et al. 2004). Thus, knowledge of the diversity and distribution of the fish fauna is essential for designing and implementing conservation strategies. However, data on the fish fauna of the Western Ghats of Maharashtra have limitations as most of the rivers have not been surveyed extensively and checklists for individual rivers are not available. In the present study, we documentedthe freshwater fish fauna of some rivers of western Maharashtra. The rivers such as Kundalika river at Kolad, Krishna river mouth at Wai village,Nira river at Serola village,a tributary of Krishna river at venegoan. From the mentioned rivers some of the surveyed rivers were untouched and less explored by the scientists. The fishes collected were photographed and documented and some were brought to aquarium for taxonomical studies.


The materials used for fish collection were mainly rectangular scoop nets made of good netting material and large seine nets. The rectangular nets had a dimension of 1mx .5m (LxB) and were very efficient in catching small fishes hidden among weeds and crevices.


A photography tank in the size of 10 cm x 5 cm (LxB) was used to photograph the fishes and a SLR and a NIKON camera of 15 and 12 megapixel were used for taking appropriate photography shots.


The collected fish were identified in the field itself by our experience and knowledge in fish identification and some of the fishes were brought alive for further identification and identified using available literature (Menon 1964, 1987, 1992; Talwar & Jhingran 1991; Jayaram & Dhas 2000; Jayaram & Sanyal 2003; Jayaram 1991, 2010).


After travelling many hours leaving Mumbai city we took the road of Malshejghat (Sahayadri range) and stopped at a village called Shakra. We found a dam constructed over the one side of  the shakra river and some anthropogenic activities going on another side. We observed the river bank carefully for fishes. There we found a good population of Puntiuspookadensis, Aplocheliuslineatus, Rasboradaniconius and Devariomalabaricus moving in shoals.The river had a rocky bottom with a clear water and we could also able to see Garrine fishes, loaches,miniature gobies and killifishes in their spawning colors.We used our scoop nets and collected some beautiful Killifishes and Danios.

Fig 1.The rocky stream of Shakra river                                                    Fig 2. Collecting Garrine fishes

Fig 3.Puntiuspookadensis                                                                       Fig 4.Aplocheliuslineatus

Fig 5.Rasboradaniconius                                                                        Fig 6.Devarioaquipinnatus

Fig 7. Pseudogobiopsisoligactis


After the survey at the site no. 1 we moved to a Nira river dam. It was a very big stretch of river overgrown with some thorny bushes and aquatic plants like Cryptocornespiralis. We collected some unreported species of Oryzias spp. (Indian rice fishes) and some unknown gobies.

Fig.8 A low water area at Nira dam                                                         Fig.9 Agrowth of cryptocornespiralis

Fig 10.A biotope of Oryzias spp.


After the survey at site no.2 we arrived at a village called Wai where the mouth of Krishna River originates. It was a pristine river with rocky bed and had aquatic vegetation like Pisitia and Myriophyllum. We collected about nine species of fishes of which two were endemic and rare.The river had a good population of Tor khudree and loach species. We also found a biotope which had a population of rare Bariliusbarna and we could able to collect beautiful freshwater prawns belonging to the class cardinia as well.

Fig 11.A male Puntiussahyadrensis                                                         Fig 12. A male Bariiiusbarna

Fig 13.A juvenile Tor khudree                                                                Fig 14.Channagachua

Fig 15.Caridina species                                                                         Fig 16.Garra species

Fig 17.Puntiusticto


The Koynariver is situated at a altitude of 1400 meters above sea level. We arrived at Mahabaleshwar, where a small effluent of Koyna river runs below a valley unfortunately the effluent had scarcely some water left in it. We tried by our hands and tried to scoop out a shoal of juvenile loaches and gobies.Thewater in the effluent was very eutrophic and infested with hairy algae still the juveniles fishes manage to survive the heavy oxygen depletion.


Fig 18.A juvenile Garra species                                                               Fig 19.Indoreonecteseverzardi

Fig 20.Pseudogobiopsis spp.                                                                  Fig 21.Shisturadenisoni


The survey at Koynariver has yielded very less species due to lack of water and harsh cold in theMahablesharregion.We headed to drainage of Krishna situated at venegoanvillage Maharasthra district. We were in search of a new species of stone loach called Balitoralaticauda from Krishna river previously reported by a group of scientist from zoological survey of India. Wetried our level hard but couldn’t find any specimens but we were able to collect other beautiful species like Acanthocobitismoreh,Mastacembalusarmatus, ParambassisthomassiNemachelius Anguilla, Glossogobiusgiurius, Lepidcephalitysthermalisand Devariospp.

 Fig. 23.Krishna river bridge at venegoan                          Fig 24. Collection below the bridge


Fig 25.A fast flowing tributary of Krishna                                                 Fig 26.Parapsilorynchustentaculatus

Fig 27.Lepidocephalicthysthermalis                                                        Fig 28.AcanthocobitisMoreh

Fig 29.Parambassisthomassi                                                                 Fig 30.Mastacembalusarmatusinphoto tank


The river Kundalika is situated at the Mumbai-Goa border and it is about three hours ride from Mumbai city. The river is very pristine due to less anthropogenic activity and is inhabitated by very big catfishes likeWallagoattu and cyprinids group like Tor kudree,there exist a good fish species  of the Malabar danio (Devariomalabaricus), Garramullya, Aplocheliuslineatus, Schisturadenisoni, Channagachua, Dwakinsiafilamentosus, Mastacemabalusarmatus,Lutjanusargentimaculatus, Ompokmalabaricus. Puntiusticto, freshwater pipefish (Microphiscuncalu)s, Puntiussarana, Puntiussophore etc.

Fig 31.Channa cf.gachua                                                                      Fig 32.Devariomalabaricus 

Fig 33.Devarioaquipinnatus                                                                   Fig 34.Puntiussarana

Fig 35.Microphiscuncalus                                                                      Fig 36.Paralusisomadaniconius

Fig 37.Lutjanusargentimaculatus                                                            Fig 38.Mastacembalusaramatus


The rivers of Maharashtra have a good fish faunal diversity since it is starting zone of Western Ghats which is a biodiversity hotspot and it is also an least studied and unexplored. The survey trip conducted by us had made some fish species to get concern and to the aquarium hobby. Still more areas of the Maharashtra have to be studied in our upcoming survey trips.


Annandale, N. (1919). Bombay streams fauna: notes on fresh water fish mostly from the Satara and Poona Districts. Records of the Indian Museum 16: 125-138.

Dahanukar, N., R. Raut& A. Bhat (2004).Distribution, endemism and threat status of freshwater fishes in the Western Ghats of India.Journal of Biogeography 31(1): 123-136.

Daniels, R.J.R. (2006). Introduced fishes: a potential threat to the native freshwater fishes of peninsular India.Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 103(2-3): 346-348.

David, A. (1963). Studies on fish and fisheries of the Godavari and Krishna river systems.Part 1.Proceedings of the National Academy of Science India 33(2): 263-293.

Jayaram, K.C. (1995). The Krishna River System: A Bioresources Study. Occasional Paper No. 160.Records of Zoological Society of India, 167pp.

Jayaram, K.C. (2010). The Freshwater Fishes of the Indian Region.Second Edition.Narendra Publishing House,Delhi, 616pp.

Menon, A.G.K. (2004). Threatened Fishes of India and Their Conservation.Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, 170pp.

Last modified on Sunday, 14 September 2014 18:37