Bangladesh is enriched with extensive potential water resources distributed all over the country. Kaptai Lake is one of the most important freshwater body which is the largest man-made freshwater resource in the South-East Asia as well as in Bangladesh. The Kaptai Lake was created by damming the river Karnaphuli near Kaptai of Rangamati district in 1961. This lake was primarily created for hydro-electrical power generation.

 Physical structure:

Kaptai Lake has ‘H’ shaped structure and two arms of this lake is joined near Shuvalong which is a part of Karnaphuli river.  Total surface area of Kaptai Lake is 68,800 hectare and average water depth is about 9 meters with maximum depth of 32 meters. The shoreline and basin of this water body are very irregular.

Kaptai Lake
Fishing in Kaptai Lake

Fish and other fisheries items of Kaptai Lake:

Like other water bodies of the Bangladesh, diversified and many fish species and some other fisheries items are found in Kaptai Lake. Many scientist and organization recorded the fish and other fisheries items of Kaptai Lake in different times. ARG (Aquatic Research Group) (1986) recorded 49 indigenous fish species and 5 exotic fishes in this lake. Halder et al. (1991) recorded a total of 71 fish species including 5 exotic fishes and 2 species of prawn. A study by Chakma (2007) shows that 74 freshwater fish species and 2 prawn species are available in the Kaptai Lake.

 Fish production:

The Kaptai Lake continues to serve as a good and important source for fish production. Commercial exploitation of fish from Kaptai Lake started in 1965. From then considerable amount of fish are producing every year from this lake which is an  important part of the total inland water catch. Recent fish production from this lake are shown in the following table-


Fish production (MT)

Production/Area (kg/ha)













At the start of commercial exploitation of fishes from Kaptai Lake, major carp were the dominant fish species contributing 60% plus production from this lake. But, now, production of major carp species in Kaptai Lake decreased much. In the year 2004-2005, caught fish species were Rui (Labeo rohita) 45 MT, Catla (Catla catla) 117 MT, Mrigel (Cirrhina mrigala) 26 MT, Kalbaus (Labeo calbasu) 189 MT, Gonia (Labeo gonia) 29 MT, Boal (Wallago attu) 26 MT, Aiye (Mystus aor and M. seenghala) 384 MT, Shol/Gazar (Channa straita and C. marulius) 46 MT, Chital (Notopterus chitala) 6 MT, Shingi/Magur (Heteropneustes fossilis and Clarias batrachus) 76 MT, Pholi (Notopterus notopterus) 45 MT, Bacha (Eutropiichthys vacha) 12 MT, Kazoli (Ailia coila) 70 MT, Tengra/Pabda (Mystus tengra and Ompok pabda) 39 MT, Baim (Mastacembelus sp.) 13 MT, Chapila (Gudusia chapra) 2085 MT, Kachki (Corica soborna) 3284 MT, Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) 5 MT, Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) 21 MT, Tilapia (Tilapia sp.) 224 MT and others 637 MT (FRSS, 2006). From the statistics, it is very conspicuous that production of major carps species decreased greatly whereas Chapila (Gudusia chapra) and Kachki (Corica soborna) contributed more than 50% Kaptai Lake production.

In the year 2007-2008, species wise fish production of Kaptai Lake was found as Rui (Labeo rohita): 69 MT, Catla (Catla catla): 171 MT, Mrigal (Cirrhinus cirrhosus): 80 MT, Kalbasu (Labeo calbasu), 149 MT, Gonia (Labeo gonius): 2 MT, Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus):1 MT, Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix): 3 MT, Boal (Wallago attu): 60 MT, Air/Guizza Air (Sperata aor / Sperata seenghala): 437 MT, Pangas (Pangasius pangasius): 51 MT, Sarpunti (Puntius sarana): 3 MT, Shol/Gazar/Taki (Channa striatus/C. marulius/C. punctatus): 74 MT, Chital (Chitala chitala): 4 MT, Singi/Magur (Heteropneustes fossilis/Clarias batrachus): 19 MT, Phali (Notopterus notopterus): 66 MT, Bacha (Eutropiichthys vacha): 9 MT, Punti (Puntius spp.): 3 MT, Tengra/Pabda (Mystus tengra /Ompok pabda): 18 MT, Baim (Mastacembelus spp.): 8 MT, Chapila (Gudusia chapra): 2,459 MT, Tilapia/Nilotica (Oreochromis mossambicus/O. niloticus): 222 MT, Kachki (Corica spp.): 2,466 MT and Others: 1,874 MT (FRSS, 2009).

Production of exotic fishes from this lake got attention because fish like Tilapia considered threat to indigenous fish species. Fish harvested from Kaptai lake meets local demand and also supplied to other parts of the Bangladesh.

Kaptai Lake
Kaptai Lake


At present Kaptai Lake is suffering from many problems. Fertilizers and pesticides used in lake adjacent crop fields polluting lake water. Again, water level become reduced much than previous years. 

People living around the lake depends on the lake water for drinking, cooking, washing and breathing. Local fishermen also caught fish in this lake. To get more and sustainable production, proper and scientific management system need to be introduced for this lake. Also government and associated authorities should take immediate steps to make a good solution of existing problems of the lake.

Kaptai Lake
Kaptai Lake


ARG (Aquatic Research Group), 1986. Hydrobiology of the Kaptai Reservoir, Final Report, FAO/UNDP Contract No. DP/BGD/79/015-4F1, Institute of Marine Science, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, p. 192.

Chakma, I.L., 2007. Fish Culture in Hill Tract Regions, Desio Projatir Matshya Sakgrakkhon O Shamprasaran Ovijan 2007, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Dhaka, p. 68.

FRSS (Fisheries Resources Survey System). 2006. Fishery Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh 2004-2005, Department of Fisheries (DoF), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Bangladesh, p. 16.

FRSS (Fisheries Resources Survey System). 2009. Fisheries Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh 2007-2008. Department of Fisheries (DoF), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Bangladesh, 25(1): 1-42.

Halder, G.C., M.A. Mazid, K.I. Haque, S. Huda and K.K. Ahmed, 1991. A Review of the Fishing Fauna of Kaptai Reservoir. Bangladesh J. Fish., 14(1-2): 127-135.

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Kaptai Lake

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Shams Galib

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: More...

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