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Armoured Sailfin Catfish

Published: 14th May, 2024

Context

Researchers at CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have discovered that the invasive armoured sailfin catfish has spread to 60% of the water bodies in the Eastern Ghats. This catfish, once introduced for its unique appearance and algae-cleaning abilities, has multiplied rapidly, damaging fishing nets and disrupting the local ecosystem.

About Armored catfish (Family: Loricariidae) 

  • Origin: The armoured sailfin catfish, known as the Rakashi or devil fish, come from South America.
  • Feeding Habits: They mainly eat algae and are active at night. They have a distinct sucker on their underside.
  • Invasion Impact: Once these catfish invade a new area and start reproducing, it's extremely difficult to get rid of them.
  • Negative Effects: They harm native plants and animals by competing for resources, altering food chains, and causing water to become murky due to their burrowing. They also disrupt the feeding habits of large aquatic mammals like manatees.

Fact Box:  About eDNA

  • To track the spread of invasive species like the armoured sailfin catfish, scientists developed a new method called the ‘eDNA-based quantitative PCR assay’.
  • This method involves collecting eDNA (environmental DNA (Deoxyribonucleac Acid)) from water samples to specifically detect the presence of the catfish.
  • Unlike traditional methods, the eDNA approach is reliable, cost-effective, and accurate, making it suitable for large-scale monitoring projects like the Eastern Ghats water bodies.
  • Using this innovative technique, researchers can quickly and accurately assess the presence of invasive species in multiple water bodies simultaneously.

Recent Interventions to control Invasive Species

  • Legal Framework: Biological Diversity Act of 2002, National Biodiversity Authority Act of 2002.
  • National Action Plan on Invasive Alien Species (NAPINVAS): Prevention, early detection, control, and management of invasive species.
  • National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC): To provide information and resources about invasive species in India.
  • Measures taken at international level:  United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD – 1992), Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, Global Invasive Species Programme, International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
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