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Invasion of Armoured Sailfin Catfish Threatens Eastern Ghats Ecosystem


Scientists from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have revealed alarming findings regarding the proliferation of invasive armoured sailfin catfish in the Eastern Ghats. Their research indicates that these catfish now inhabit 60% of the region’s water bodies, posing significant threats to the local ecosystem. The presence of these invasive species has led to damage to fishing nets and disturbances in the delicate balance of the aquatic environment.


GS III: Species in News

Key Facts About Sailfin Catfish:


  • The sailfin armoured catfish belongs to the genus Pterygoplichthys of the Loricariidae family and is native to South America. However, it has been introduced to freshwater environments worldwide, leading to serious ecological impacts.

Invasive Species:

  • Sailfin catfish is considered one of the most serious invasive species due to its wide distribution and negative effects on local ecosystems.

Introduction in India:

  • Originally introduced in India for its distinctive appearance and algae-eating capacity in tanks and aquariums, the sailfin catfish population has significantly increased over time.

Physical Characteristics:

  • Sailfin catfish feature worm-like dark markings on a dark-golden background, stout pectoral fins with rough surfaces, and a disc-like, protrusible mouth used for suction feeding on algae.
  • Female sailfin catfish are typically smaller, while males larger than 18 inches are common.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Sailfin catfish inhabit various slow-moving water bodies, primarily near the shore and in shallow waters.
  • They are known to create spawning burrows along shorelines, which can undermine canal banks and lake shorelines.


  • Sailfin catfish can grow to lengths exceeding 20 inches and weigh up to 3.0 pounds.

-Source: The Hindu

June 2024