IMPHAL, April 10 - Manipur is home to a number of fish species which are highly prized for their ornamental values and therefore the State has good potential for aquarium fishes.
�Most of our indigenous (endemic) fishes have their unique ornamental characters when we talk about the potential of ornamental fishes in the region,� said Laishram Nilakumar, Fishery Officer of Manipur Science Aquarium here. �Our centre has about 30 different fish species which have ornamental values.�
The centre has displayed as many as 60 fish varieties including 30 exotic fishes in 50 aquarium tanks, in the ongoing week-long 4th State Level Aquarium Exhibition cum Flower Show in Imphal since March 31.
Approximately 200 species of freshwater fish from Eastern Himalaya are caught and exported as ornamental fish. This is said to account for about 85 per cent of all exports of ornamental fishes from India, Dr Heok Hee Ng of National University of Singapore in IUCN�s report on Status and Distribution of Freshwater Biodiversity in Eastern Himalaya.
According to researchers, out of 250 potential ornamental fish species in North East, Assam recorded the highest number of species(187), followed by Arunachal Pradesh (165), Meghalaya (159), Manipur (139), Tripura (103), Nagaland (71), Mizoram (46), and Sikkim(29). A team of Assam University�s Department of Biotechnology had reportedly recorded a total of 61 ornamental fish � most of them said to be fresh water fish in Jiribam area, out of the State�s total 139 fish species.
Interestingly most of the small food fish which are treated as unwanted for conventional farming in the region, have good potential as ornamental fish. �But for a successful ornamental fish business in the region, we need to develop necessary awareness programmes, markets, besides research activities,� Nilakumar opined.
�Even the popular Nganap (Pangio pangia) fish could be used as scavenger in our aquarium as it survives on decomposed substances.� Those who want to take up ornamental fish as a business require just a small rooftop space or racks, the Fishery Officer added.