Estuarine ricefish, Oryzias melastigma
Estuarine ricefish, Oryzias melastigma

Systematic position
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Beloniformes (Needlefishes)
Family: Adrianichthyidae (Adrianichthyids)
Subfamily: Oryziinae (Medakas or ricefishes)
Genus: Oryzias
Species: O. melastigmus

Aplocheilus melastigmus McClelland, 1839
Haplochilus melastigma (McClelland, 1839)
Panchax argenteus Day, 1868
Panchax cyanopthalma Blyth, 1858
Panchax melastigma (McClelland, 1839)

Common/local names
English: Estuarine ricefish
Bangladesh: Bechi (বেচি) and Kanpona (কানপোনা)
India: Ilisha (Andhra Pradesh); Mundakanni (Tamil Nadu); Poochhutti and Manathakannan (Kerala) and Kudabaddu and Kuddian (Karnataka) (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Distributions: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka (?)(Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Conservation status: Data deficient in Bangladesh (IUCN Bangladesh, 2000).

Morphology: Strongly compressed body is somewhat elongate with large eyes. Eyes are 3 times in head length and equal to interorbital width (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). Mouth small, large scales and caudal fin rounded. Large back mark on occiput (Rahman, 1989 and 2005). 27 scales in longitudinal series (Rahman, 1989 and 2005; Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Body color green on back and silvery below with several dark blotches on flanks. A thin dark line runs through the middle of the body and ends in a dull spot at caudal fin base. Edge of anal fin white and other fins are hyaline.

Fin formula:
D. 7; P1. 11 (1/10); P2. 6; A. 23-24 (Rahman, 1989 and 2005)
D 6-7; A 20-24; P 15; V 6 (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Maximum lengths: 3.4 cm (Rahman, 1989 and 2005) and 4 cm (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Habitats: Estuarine and brackish waters; also inhibits freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). Estuaries and tidal rivers of Bangladesh (Rahman, 1989 and 2005). Recorded from Gollamari canal near Khulna (Rahman, 1989 and 2005).

Spawning: Perennial breeder in both freshwaters and brackish waters, specially from November to March (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). The eggs remain attached to the flattened genital pad of the female and carried by the mother until they are hatched (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Fishery info: Accidentally introduced in Andaman Island with rohu (Labeo) fry (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).



Blyth E (1858) Report of Curator, Zoological Department, for May, 1858. Journal and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 27(3): 267-290.

Day F (1868) On some new or imperfectly known fishes of India. Proceedings of the General Meetings for Scientific Business of the Zoological Society of London 1867 (pt 3): 699-707.

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

McClelland J (1839) Indian Cyprinidae. Asiatic Researches 19(2): 217-471, Pls. 37-61.

Rahman AKA (1989) Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 1st edition, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 63-64.

Rahman AKA (2005) Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 2nd edition, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 78-79.

Talwar PK and Jhingran AG (1991) Inland Fishes of India and Adjacent Countries, Vol. 2, Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi-Calcutta, pp. 745-746.

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Estuarine ricefish, Oryzias melastigmus (McClelland, 1839)

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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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