An innovative approach towards captive breeding of Magur fish (Clarias Batrachus) or the Catfish in Amranga in Kamrup district, Assam, can be groundbreaking in terms of large scale breeding of the gradually declining species.
Farm in-charge of Fish Breeding-cum-Research Centre at Regional Fisheries Training Institute at Amranga, Raben Das has been captive breeding Magur without stripping or sacrificing the male.
Traditionally, while captive breeding of the species the male and female pair is injected with a synthetic hormone.
After 12-14 hours the Male is cut to take out its sperm before mixing with eggs taken out from the female.
In this process, the female generally suffers injuries as it involves pressing its body to take out the eggs.
The Male’s body is later stitched after taking out its sperm.
Magur fish from a very young age, need moving water to live.
The seeds while growing up the adequate temperature, moving water facilities are utmost necessary for their survival.
Moreover, farmers opting for the traditional breeding technique complained of high the mortality rate of the Magur seeds which led many of them abandoning the breeding process on commercial purpose.
They said the survival rate of the seeds was not more than 20 -40 per cent.
“I started doing captive breeding of Magur fish way back in 2009. But due to the high mortality rate of the seeds, I abandoned doing the process,” said Ajibur Ahmed, a fish farmer from Golaghat.
“If we can reduce the mortality rate the farming can really be beneficial financially. In my case around 40 per cent died,” he added.
Das, who is also a Fishery Development officer at the Assam Fishery department, claimed 100 per cent success in terms of zero mortality of the Magur seeds.
Das, after injecting a single dose of synthetic hormone into the male and female would release the pair in a cemented tank.
Artificial aeration is then provided to the confined waters. Breeding of the species is generally done from May to June.
Within 24 hours the female would lay eggs in the tank itself and the male releases the sperm.
The Pair is then taken out of the tank to avoid rupture of the eggs. Then again within 24 hours the eggs hatch to spawns or seeds and they are fed with live feed and natural feed after 4 days of hatching.
“The spawns being small in size they cannot feed on natural feed ie. zooplanktons. Immediately when they are able to eat they are given other live feed like Artemia or Phytoplankton,” Das told Northeast Now.
According to Das, an average healthy pair of Magur fish of 150 to 200 gram laid 5000-7000 eggs per season.
He has been captive breeding without sacrificing the male since 2013.
In contrast to the high mortality of Magur fish from the spawn to fingerling size, Das claimed that the rate has been gradually declining. In the current year, he managed to save all the Magur seeds with zero mortality.
Das claimed that the pair used for breeding can be used in the subsequent seasons traditionally a pair can be used only once given the stripping method applied on them.
Das has even managed to provide seeds to farmers in Sonari, Nagaon, Lakhimpur districts etc.
Das has also started induced breeding of Pavo fish (Butter cat) which is another indigenous fish breed and Vietnam Koi fish.
Why Induced Breeding?
The induced breeding of fish species that are witnessing population decline has been a welcoming step for large scale production.
Magur fish lives in moving waters and found in rivers, ponds, marshy lands and swamps and even in paddy fields.
They like digging holes in mud paddy fields and lay eggs in suitable climatic conditions.
Increased water pollution, expansion of dumping grounds and most importantly harvesting of fish during their breeding time led to the decline of some species including Magur.
The high market value of the fish has attracted farmers to opt artificially breed Magur in captive conditions.
In a way, induced breeding has shown rays of hope for the revival of some species.
A Kg of Magur fish is generally sold at Rs 800 to Rs 1000. Dishes made of Magur Fish have been cherished as one of the most loved delicacies in Assamese cuisine.