Gangetic hairfin anchovy: Setipinna phasa
Gangetic hairfin anchovy: Setipinna phasa

Systematic position
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray- finned fish)
Order: Clupeiformes (Herrings)
Family: Engraulidae (Anchovies)
Genus: Setipinna
Species: S. phasa

Common/local names
English: Gangetic hairfin anchovy
Bangladesh: Phassa (ফ্যাসা),Fewa (ফেওয়া) and Faisa (ফাইস্যা)
India: Phasa (ফ্যাসা), Bindi (বিন্দি), Patara (পাতারা), Phasia (ফ্যাইসা) and Tamparia (তামপারিয়া)(Talwar and Jhingran, 1991)

Distribution: Ganges river system (Bangladesh and India) and Orissa (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). East Pakistan, Orissa, West Bengal, Cachar and Myanmar (Bhuiyan, 1964).

Conservation status: Non threatened in Bangladesh (IUCN Bangladesh, 2000).

Clupea phasa
Hamilton, 1822
Clupea telara Hamilton, 1822
Engraulis telara
Hamilton, 1822
Setipinna megalura
Swainson, 1839
Setipinna truncata
Swainson, 1839

Gangetic hairfin anchovy, Setipinna phasa
Gangetic hairfin anchovy, Setipinna phasa

Morphology: Body fusiform and strongly compressed. Dorsal and abdominal profiles evenly arched.  Belly strongly keeled. Eyes sub-cutaneous. Mouth slighty oblique, maxilla enlarged at mandibular joint and reaches angle of pre-opercle, just reaches gill opening. 15-17 (Rahman, 1989) or 18-19 (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991) number of gill raker present, gill raker serrae even or slightly clumped in smaller fishes. Teeth in a single row in jaws, palate and vomer. Pectoral filament long, reaching to base of 15th to 39th anal finray. Caudal fin forked its upper lobe truncated, shorter than lower. Origin of dorsal about one eye-diameter behind that of anal, much nearer to snout than to caudal base. A short spine in front of dorsal. Pelvics much nearer to anal origin than to pectoral origin. Outer ray of pectoral produced and reaches first half of anal. Lower lobe of caudal longer. Head length 5.5-6.4 times in standard length. About 52 scales along median series. Pectoral with axillary scale. Scuted 22; 15 pre-pelvic and 7 post-pelvic.

Fin formula
B xiii; D 1/14-15; P. 15; V. 7; A. 70-80; C. 19 (Bhuiyan, 1964)
D. 1+2-3/11-12;  P1.1/11-12;  P2.1/6;  A.54-57 (Rahman, 1989)
D i 14-15; A iii 66-78; P i 14; V i 6 (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991)
B VIII; D. 1/14-15; P. 15; V. 7; A. 70-80; C. 19 (Shafi and Quddus, 2001)

Color: Greenish along the back, silvery below. Dorsal and caudal yellow. Upper margin of dorsal black. Pectoral fin hyaline but blue black in adult excepting the elongated ray which is colorless.

Maximum lengths: 17.5 cm (Bhuiyan, 1964), 29.2 cm (Rahman, 1989), 28 cm standard length (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991) and 40 cm (Shafi and Quddus, 2001).

Habitats: Rivers and estuaries throughout India and Bangladesh (Rahman, 1989; Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). Found mostly in estuaries during rainy season, abundantly found in baor and beel. Surface dweller and can not found in shallow water (Shafi and Quddus, 2001). Estuarine but in the rainy season it is abundantly found in rivers, streams and even in the beels (Bhuiyan, 1964).

This species was recorded in Chalan Beel by Hossain et al. (2009).

Food and feeding habit: Unicellular and multicellular algae, protozoans and crustaceans (Bhuiyan, 1964)

Breeding: It breeds possibly throughout the year, but with peaks in Oct-November in the hoogly estuary or March-May in the Ganga at Allahabad (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). According to Nair (1940), this fish breeds between February and March.

Economic importance: Used as food fish in Bangladesh. According to Talwar and Jhingran (1991), this fish is a major item in artisanal catches in the Hoogly estuary.



Bhuiyan AL (1964) Fishes of Dacca, Asiat. Soc. Pakistan, Pub. 1, No. 13, Dacca, pp. 13-15.

Hossain MAR, Nahiduzzaman M, Sayeed MA, Azim ME, Wahab MA and Olin PG (2009) The Chalan beel in Bangladesh: Habitat and biodiversity degradation, and implications for future management, Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management, 14:3-19.

IUCN Bangladesh (2000) Red book of threatened fishes of Bangladesh, IUCN- The world conservation union. xii+116 pp.

Nair KK (1940) On some early stages in the development of the Gangetic Anchovy, Engraulis telara (Ham.), Rec. Indian Mus. Calcutta, 42 (Pt. II), 277.

Rahman AKA (1989) Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 1st edition, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 242-243.

Swainson W (1839) The natural history and classification of fishes, amphibians, & reptiles, or monocardian animals. Spottiswoode & Co., London. The natural history and classification of fishes, amphibians, & reptiles, or monocardian animals. v. 2: i-vi + 1-448.

Shafi M and Quddus MMA (2001) Bangladesher Matsho Shampad (Fisheries of Bangladesh) (in Bengali), Kabir publication. Dhaka, Bangladesh. pp. 48-49.

Talwar PK and Jhingran AG (1991) Inland Fishes of India and Adjacent Countries, Vol. I, Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi-Calcutta, pp. 136-137.

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Gangetic hairfin anchovy, Setipinna phasa (Hamilton, 1822)

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