12 Most Popular Freshwater Fish of Indian Rivers

Providing employment to over 14 million people, Indian Fishing industry is one of the most important industries for the country! According to the surveys of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), the Indian Fishing industry has grown 10 times from 1947 to 1990, and has an ever growing scope. The fresh water resources of India has about 195,210 kilometers (121,300 mi) of rivers and canals, 2.9 million hectares of small and large reservoirs, 2.4 million hectares of ponds and lakes. The Freshwater aquaculture alone accounts for nearly 55% of the total fish industry of India.

Since the last decade, Rivers in India have emerged as not only the source for irrigation system and agriculture, but also for producing and contributing in the fishery sector. 1 percent of India’s total annual GDP rate is the contribution of the Fishing and Aquaculture . West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are most reputed contributors in the fishery sector in India.

Indian subcontinent is blessed with some of the rarest and tastiest fishes in the world. This fishes are not only famous as a food delicacy but also well known for their benefits in Medicine. Fish oil, Fish emulsion and even Fish glue are important for export industry. Thus here, we have curated a list of 12 Most Popular of Indian Rivers: 


1. Rohu – Labeo Rohita

The Rohu Fish

The Rohu, belonging to the species of Carp family, is found in rivers of Indian subcontinent. They contribute extensively in the aquaculture of the country. The large silver coloured Rohu fish is not only an important fish for the fish industry but also a very famous and tasty delicacy in India. It is most commonly eaten in Bhojpur, Madhya Pradesh. It is cheap and tasty which makes it a popular choice among masses! Adult fish can reach 45 kg (99 lb) of maximum weight and 2 m (6.6 ft) of maximum length  (but average Rohu has length around 12 m (1.6 ft).)


2.Hilsa – Ilish Shad

Ilish or Hilsa shad is a type of freshwater (brackish water) fish. It is very popular in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Tripura, Assam and Andhra Pradesh. Illish fish is especially popular in Andhra Pradesh and Bengal.

~ Pulasa Fish
In, Andhra Pradesh it is known as Pulasa, found in the Godavari river. It is one of the tastiest and costliest of all the varieties of the found in India. A popular saying in Andhra Pradesh says–

“Pustelu ammi ayina Pulasa tinocchu”

The Hilsa Fish

Meaning: It is always worth eating Pulasa Fish even if you have to sell the Mangalsutra.


3. Catla – Indian Carp

The Catla fish

The Katla or Catla, also famous as ‘Major Indian Carp’, is commonly found in rivers and lakes of Indian subcontinent. It is one of the most renowned species of freshwater fish. The Catla, The  Rohu Labeo and The Mrigal carp are the most important Carp fish of the aquaculture freshwater fish in India. It attains a length of upto 182 cm (6.0 ft) and a weight of about 38.6 kg (85 lb).


4. Tilapia – Cichlid Fish

The Tilapia Fish

Tilapia, the “Cichlid Fish”, are mainly freshwater fish have a home in shallow waters, rivers, lakes and also commonly found residing in brackish water of India. Tilapia are among the few of the world’s most consumed fish, along with the types of Carps and Salmon. It is also one of the most important fish in the aquaculture of India.


5. Tengra – Mystus Tengara

A captured Mystus Tengara

Tengra, also known as, Tengna is a small catfish and one of the tastiest fish in Bengal. Most famous of these Bengali recipes is ‘Tangra Macher Jhal’. Tengra fish is found mostly in fresh water rivers in the states of Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Bengal of Indian subcontinent. It has a total length of 18.0 cm (7.08 in).


6. Magur – Walking Catfish

The Walking Catfish

Magur is a medium sized walking catfish species of fish, which is native to the rivers of Indian subcontinent. The Magur or ‘walking catfish’ is an omnivorous species. It is a renowned delicacy in the states of Assam, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh of India. It has an elongated body type which reaches almost 0.5 m (1.6 ft) in length and 1.2 kg (2.6 lb) by weight. It has got its name “Walking Catfish” for its ability to “walk” or wiggle across dry land in search of food or suitable habitat.


7. Kajoli – Ailia Coila

Pile of caught Kajoli Fish

Kajoli, also known as the Gangetic ailia or Ailia Coila, is mostly found in large freshwater systems and connected water bodies. This species has a lot of importance to local commercial fisheries of Indian subcontinent. This species grows to 30 centimetres (12 in) in length.


8. Rani – Pink Perch

The Rani Fish

The Rani fish or Pink Perch is a freshwater type gamefish, which is found in variety of geographical regions of Indian subcontinent. The Rani fish is generally small in size and is commonly available for sale in India. A perch is generally around 30 cm (1 ft) / 1 lb (0.45 kg) or less in length, and any over 40 cm / 2 lb (0.91 kg) is considered a great catch.


9. Rita Rita

Rita Rita

Rita is a species of bagrid catfish that is found majorly in the freshwaters of the state of West Bengal. It is majorly fished commercially for human consumption. It is native to the countries of India, Pakistan, Mayanmmar, Nepla, Afganistan and Bangladesh. in its genus, it is considered to be a gaint, growing to a length of 150 cm. It is commercially fished for human consumption. It is a sluggish, bottom-dwelling catfish.


10. Tor Tor –  Mahseer

Mahseer Fish

Tor tor, commonly known as The Mahseer or The Golden Mahseer, are a type of popular game fish,  freshwater sport and food fish. Mahseer majorly present in Wayanad, Kali river and also in Sarda river and the Himalayan rivers. Out of the total of 47 types of Mahseer species in existence in the world, India provides a habitat to 15 of them!


11. Karimeen- Green Chromide

The Green Chromide Fish

The Karimeen fish is also well known as the Pearl Spots. It is a type of Green chromide, (one of the species of ‘Cichlid fish’found in the backwaters of the state of Kerala. The Green chromide is native to coastal areas of Indian Subcontinent, which lives in brackish water habitat types, for example: river deltas. It mostly grows to reach 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in length and the maximum length it may attain is twice of that.


12. Trout – Rainbow Trout

The Trout fish is a type of freshwater fish and are closely related to Salmon fish and Char fish and can be found in the Himalayan Region of India. The Himalayan rivers of Indian subcontinent are rich in German Brown and Rainbow Trout. Fishing in these Himalayan rivers is quite restricted and requires a special permit from the state government with a policy of ‘catch and release’. A normal adult rainbow trout generally has a weight of about 2–3 kg, while its maximum length is 120 cm total,  and maximum weight is 25.4 kg and 11 years of age.

Underwater photograph of Trout Fish.

Fishing Industry is ever blooming and thus very crucial for its contribution towards the economical development of our nation. India has one of the longest coastlines and some of the richest freshwater rivers in the world, thus hold a lot of scope for development in the fishery sector. We hope you liked our list to 12 Most popular freshwater fish of India Rivers!

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