Golden Mahseer goes by many names, such as the Himalayan mahseer, Putitor mahseer, king mahseer, and mighty mahseer. Its scientific name is Tor putitora.
Mahseer is the union of Mahi (meaning fish) and sher (meaning tiger). That's why it is also referred to as the tiger of the water or the tiger among fish.
Characteristics of the Golden Mahseer
The Golden Mahseer is a striking fish with attractive golden colour and elusive nature. It is characterised by reddish-golden fins, thick lips, and large shiny scales. This cyprinid can grow up to 9 feet in length and about 54 kg in weight. It counts among the most powerful freshwater fish.
This species is a column feeder in freshwater. It follows omnivorous feeding habits during the adult stage.
The fish migrate upstream twice a year under monsoon conditions to breed. The spawning season extends from May to September. It can swim over small to mid-size rocky boulders and against gravity. The sexual productivity of this fish is low and ranges from 6,000 to 10,000 eggs per kg.
It is a bioindicator species. Its large size, agility, sustenance, and liveliness make it a highly popular and fascinating game fish.
Habitat and Distribution of the Golden Mahseer
Golden Mahseer mainly inhabits fast-moving rivers, rapid streams, and riverine pools in the Himalayan region. It has been introduced in large reservoirs and lakes. The basins of the Gange, Indus, and Brahmaputra rivers are its native range. It is also found down south in the Tambraparini, Cauvery, Balamore, and Kosi Rivers.
This fish is found in Himachal Pradesh, the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, and Sikkim.
Reasons for the Decline of Golden Mahseer Population
- Unabashed fishing of juveniles and brooders.
- The adverse impact of hydrological projects and dams.
- Hunting of the species using poison, dynamite, and even electrocution.
- Loss of feeding and breeding habitats.
- Physical and chemical alterations of their native habitats.
- Urbanisation, pollution, and illegal encroachment.
- Lack of information related to their feeding, breeding, and habitat ecology.
- As a sensitive species, they can barely sustain in modified water conditions.
Conservation Issues of Golden Mahseer
The Golden Mahseer population is believed to have declined by more than 50%. It is an important fish from an economic and ecological perspective. But there are no legal provisions in India for protecting this species.
Facts to Know About Golden Mahseer
- The Himalayan Golden Mahseer has been placed on the Red List of endangered species by IUCN.
- It is the state fish of Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttarakhand.
- Golden Mahseer is the national fish of Pakistan.
- They normally exist in temperature ranges of 5°C and 25°C.
- Over the last century, the fish has been decreasing in size.
- Artificially bred stock of this species has been recently released into the Irrawaddy River basin in Nagaland, the Hira Bambai reservoir, and parts of the Tapti River basin in Maharashtra.
- There are several angling camps and resorts in Uttarakhand where this fish is caught and released with full enthusiasm by anglers.
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Given the declining population of Golden Mahseer, there is an immediate need to take steps towards its conservation. The government and the local communities need to help sustain the population of this species through protecting migratory routes, restoring habitats, and developing conservation reserves.
FAQs on Golden Mahseer
Q.1. What is the lifespan of the Golden Mahseer?
Golden Mahseer has a lifespan of about 20-25 years.
Q.2. Is Golden Mahseer a dangerous fish?
Golden Mahseer possesses no threat to human beings. But it can be aggressive towards its predators and smaller fish.
Q.3. What is the average growth rate of Golden Mahseer?
Golden Mahseer grows at an average rate of 10cm every year.
Q.4. When does the Golden Mahseer attain maturity?
Golden Mahseer males attain maturity at 3+ years of age while the females do so at 5+ years.
Q.5. Are there any specific names for the males and females of Golden Mahseer?
There are no specific names for the males and females of Golden Mahseer.