The Sikkim government has declared Neolissochilus Hexagonolepis, commonly known as Chocolate or Copper Mahseer and locally named as Katley as a State Fish of Sikkim.
In a Gazette notification, the Sikkim government stated: “The Government of Sikkim is hereby pleased to declare the Neolissochilus hexagonolepis, commonly known as Chocolate or Copper Mahseer and locally named as Katley as a State fish of Sikkim.”
In India, Neolissochilus hexagonolepis (Katley) are mostly found in Himalayas especially in Northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland.
In Sikkim, Katley fish are found in varied altitudes covering the entire state predominately confined in Teesta and Rangit rivers and their tributaries.
“Because of the morphological body colour of the fish, the name Chocolate Mahseer has been given,” the notification said.
Katley fish is freshwater benthopelagic in habitat, omnivorous feeder and potamodromous in migration within freshwater for breeding and feeding.
Katley migrate upstream for breeding purpose and spawning takes place on stones and gravel.
“Spawning occurs from April to October with a peak in August to September,” the Gazette notification said.
The fecundity of the fish is 3500 numbers per kg body weight while the maximum growth and length of Katley fish recorded is 11 kg and 120 cm respectively.
Katley fish is the most sought fish by the fishermen in Sikkim as the fish is having high consumer demand and comparatively high market value.
In 1992, the ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (ICAR- NBGR), Lucknow has categorized Katley fish as endangered species.
In 2014, the fish was categorized as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).