Category: Fishes | Resource

Small Indigenous Species (SIS) of Fishes

What is SIS?

According to Rahman (1989), there are 260 species of freshwater indigenous fishes in Bangladesh. Among them, which grow to a size of 25 cm or 9 inches at mature or adult stage in their life cycle are known as  Small Indigenous Species (SIS; Felts et al. 1996). However, people may argue over this definition as maximum size of several species (e.g. Puntius sarana, Clarias batrachus, Channa barca, Xenentodon cancila, Heteropneustes fossilis etc.) have been reported more than 25 cm in water bodies of Bangladesh.

Felts et al. (1996) included 45 fish species to the list of SIS including carps and minnows (18 species), catfishes (9 species), perches (9 species) and others . They also sub-categorized SIS into following three main groups-

  • Species which reach to a maximum length up to 7.5 cm (3 inches).
  • Species which reach to a maximum length up to 15 cm (9 inches).
  • Species which reach to a maximum length up to 25 cm (12 inches).

Importance of SIS:
Fish is considered an easily digestible food item and rich source of animal protein. SIS species contains a huge amount of vitamin-A and vitamin-D which are essential for human bones, teeth, skin, and eyes. SIS also supply good amount of calcium, phosphorus, iron, iodine etc. These minerals are essential for developing body resistance against disease. Some SIS like punti (Puntius spp.) contains double the amount of iron compared to many aquacultured carps including silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and rohu/rui (Labeo rohita); another SIS, mola (Amblypharyngodon mola) contains three times more calcium and fifty times higher vitamin-A than that of silver carp and rui (Villif and Jorgensen, 1993). Chemical composition of some SIS are shown in the following table-

Name of SIS Water (%) Fat (%) Protein (%) Ash (%) Calcium (mg/100 g) Phosphorus (mg/100 g) Iron (mg/100 g)
Anabas testudineus 70.0 8.80 14.8 2.00 410 390 135
Channa punctatus 74.0 0.60 19.4 2.60 610 530 130
Glossogobius giuris 79.7 0.60 14.5 2.30 370 330 104
Heteropneustes fossilis 68.0 0.60 22.8 1.70 670 650 226
Labeo bata 79.0 2.48 14.3 2.00 79.0 200 1.09
Notopterus notopterus 73.0 1.00 19.8 2.50 590 450 169
Oxygaster bacaila 77.5 4.30 14.6 2.10 590 340 1.96
Puntius sarana 70.2 9.50 16.5 1.53 220 120 0.54
* Source CSIR-India (1962).
Number of SIS in Bangladesh:
Ali (1997) listed 143 species of SIS in Bangladesh. Selected list of small indigenous fish species of Bangladesh is below in the table (maximum size are based on Bangladesh)-

Scientific name

Bangla name

Fishbase name Max. size (cm)
Ailia coila Kajuli, Baspata Gangetic ailia 16.3 (Hussain, 1999)

Amblypharyngodon mola

Mola, Moa

Mola carplet 9.20 (Hussain, 1999)

Anabas testudineus


Climbing perch 22.0 (Bhuiyan, 1964)
Aspidoparia morar Pioly 13.0 (Rahman, 2005)
Badis badis Napit koi Badis 6.80 (Hussain, 1999)

Botia dario

Bou, Rani

Bengal loach 15.1 (Rahman, 2005)
Botia lohachata Bou, Rani Reticulate loach 11.0 (Author)
Chanda nama Nama chanda Elongate glass-perchlet 10.3 (Hussain, 1999)

Chanda ranga


Indian glassy fish 8.70 (Hussain, 1999)
Channa orientalis Gachua Walking snakehead 19.0 (Author)

Channa punctatus


Spotted snakehead 31.5 (Hussain, 1999)

Clarias batrachus


Walking catfish 37.9 (Hussain, 1999)
Colisa fasciata Khalisa Banded gourami 10.0 (Rahman, 2005)
Colisa lalia Lal khalisha Dwarf gourami 8.80 (Rahman, 2005)
Corica soborna Kachki Ganges river sprat 4.50 (Author)
Danio devario Chap chela Dind danio 10.6 (Hussain, 1999)
Esomus danricus Darkina Flying barb 13.6 (Hussain, 1999)

Glossogobius giuris


Tank goby 29.2 (Rahman, 2005)

Gudusia chapra


Indian rivershad 20.0 (Rahman, 2005)

Heteropneustes fossilis


Stinging catfish 30.0 (Author)
Labeo bata Bata Bata 29.0 (Rahman, 2005)
Lepidocephalus guntea Gutum Guntea loach 10.4 (Author)

Macrognathus aculeatus

Tara Baim

Lesser spiny eel 32.7 (Hussain, 1999)
Mastacembelus pancalus Guchi Barred spiny eel 15.8 (Author)

Mystus tengara


7.00 (Bhuiyan, 1964)
Mystus vittatus Tengra Striped dwarf catfish 11.7 (Rahman, 2005)

Nandus nandus


Gangetic leaffish 18.0 (Bhuiyan, 1964)

Notopterus notopterus


Bronze featherback 35.5 (Rahman, 2005)

Ompok pabda


Pabdah catfish 26.9 (Hussain, 1999)
Parambassis lala Lal chanda Highfin glassy perchlet 3.20 (Author)
Puntius conchonius Kanchan punti Rosy barb 9.90 (Rahman, 1989)
Puntius phutunio Phutani punti Spottedsail barb 4.00 (Rahman, 2005)

Puntius sarana


Olive barb 52.6 (Hussain, 1999)
Puntius sophore Jat punti Pool barb 12.3 (Hussain, 1999)
Puntius ticto Tit Punti Ticto barb 11.3 (Hussain, 1999)
Rohtee cotio Dhela 10.8 (Rahman, 2005)
Salmostoma bacaila Chela Large razorbelly minnow 16.8 (Hussain, 1999)

Salmostoma phulo

Ful chela

Finescale razorbelly minnow 9.90 (Bhuiyan, 1964)

Securicula gora

Ghoro chela

24.5 (Rahman, 2005)

Xenentodon cancila


Freshwater garfish 27.4 (Hussain, 1999)

Present status of SIS in different water bodies of Bangladesh:
According to Hoq (2006), in the Chalan Beel, a total of 121 species of SIS are available including 41 riverine, 29 migratory, and 51 floodplain species. In the Padma River, this number is 119 consisting of 45 riverine, 25 migratory, and 44 floodplain species. In the Tanguar Haor, 123 SIS are recorded of which 33 riverine species, 29 migratory species, and 61 floodplain species. Hoq (2006) also recorded 145 SIS from Baraindra Tract region and a total of 129 SIS from Chittagong region.

However, many SIS may still available in different water bodies (e.g. beels, rivers, khals, haors, baors etc.) of Bangladesh but their existence is at stake. Due to indiscriminate exploitation of brood and young SIS using destructive fishing gears and methods leads SIS to a high level of risk of extinction. Although illegal but small meshed fishing nets are widely used throughout the country. Moreover, harvesting of fish by dewatering the particular portion or entire area of a water body makes the available stock more susceptible to extinction.


Ali, M.Y. 1997. Small Indigenous Fish Species culture in Bangladesh, Proceedings of National Workshop on Small Indigenous fish culture in Bangladesh, IFADEP-SP 2, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Bhuiyan, A.L. 1964. Fishes of Dacca, Asiat. Soc. Pakistan, Pub. 1, No. 13, Dacca, pp. 1-148.

CSIR-India. 1962. Fish and Fisheries, Vol. IV, p. 132.

Felts, R.A., F. Fajts and M. Akteruzzaman. 1996. Small Indigenous Fish Species Culture in Bangladesh (Technical brief), IFADEP Sub Project 2, Development of Inland Fisheries, p. 41.

Hoq, Enamul. 2006. Bangladesher Chhoto Mach, Published by Graphic Sign, 8 GKMC Shah Road, Chhoto Bazar, Mymensingh 2200, p. 20.

Hussain, M.M. 1999. Fishes and Fisheries of the River Atrai in Rajshahi with Reference to its Limnology, Ph.D. thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh, pp. 5-200.

Rahman, A.K.A. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 1-285.

Rahman, A.K.A. 2005. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 2nd ed., Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 1-263.

Villif, A. and L.B. Jorgensen. 1993. Analysis of naeringgsstoffet I, in An Environmental Monitoring System for GOLDA Project: CARE-Bangladesh Interim Report.

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Shams works in freshwater ecosystems, primarily on fish diversity in terms of their availability, and richness; he is also interested in aquatic invasive species and their impacts on ecosystem. Email: [email protected] More...

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