In this issue:

Habitat breeding and seed rearing of a near threatened featherback, Chitala chitala; Wild seed collection and modified-extensive farming of Mystus gulio in inland water bodies of South 24 Parganas, West Bengal; Freshwater pearl culture practices and challenges in India; Next generation probiotics: Future therapeutics for sustainable aquaculture; NACA Newsletter.

In 1987, ICAR-CIFA initiated research on the culture and production of freshwater pearls and since then it has been working towards the development of the technology of producing pearls in freshwater environments. Though the breeding protocol for seed production of Lamellidens marginalis is under progress, the culture practice for pearl production has already been standardised. This article describes the culture practices used for freshwater pearl farming in India, including site selection, implant techniques, post-operative care and growout conditions. Challenges and future prospects of the industry are also discussed.

The cultivable small- to medium-sized bagrid catfish Mystus gulio is an estuarine species sold as a high-priced food fish in retail markets in cities and towns of southern West Bengal. M. gulio is a good addition to mixed species culture-based fisheries in canals in the Indian Sundarbans region. It adapts and grows well in freshwater ponds and is recommended for freshwater fish culture in areas of the Sundarbans vulnerable to saline water intrusion. This article describes the seed collection, nursery and grow-out practices of M. gulio as practiced in modified-extensive mixed culture systems in West Bengal, India.

The humped featherback, Chitala chitala is considered to be one of the most commercially important food, sport, aquarium and highly priced cultivable fish in Assam. However, over exploitation, habitat degradation and pollution has caused wild populations to decline in recent decades, to the point where the species is categorised as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Here we present the biological aspects of breeding and larval rearing protocols of the humped featherback, which has been prioritised as a new candidate species for freshwater aquaculture in India. The information will also aid in stock enhancement and conservation of this species.

In this issue:

Opinion: Benefits of animal welfare in Indian aquaculture; Imparting skill on formulated fish feed preparation to women’s self-help groups in villages – an experience; Farming of the anadromous shad, Tenualosa ilisha: Signs of taking off in India; Some facts on cannibalism in Wallago attu and its management during captive seed production; NACA Newsletter.

Wallago attu is a large catfish reaching 45 kg found in the Indian subcontinent, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. Early attempts at captive production encountered high losses due to cannibalism during early life stages. This article discusses the causative factors governing cannibalism in this catfish, including rapid transfer from live to commercial feed, size differences during stocking, seasonal changes, feeding at long intervals, high density rearing, feed distribution, feeding method and size of feed, and management strategies for minimising losses during the seed rearing period.

The andadromous shad Tenualosa ilisha (also known as hilsa) is an economically important food fish in south and southeast Asia. Populations of the species are declining globally, largely due to overexploitation and habitat modification. Its fishery has drastically declined in the Bay of Bengal bordering India. Considering the excessive demand and very high market price there have been efforts for domestication and farming of the species in India. Early efforts were not measurably successful. However, momentum on developing captive breeding and farming technologies for this species has been re-invigorated with research funding from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Preparation of locally made floating pelleted fish feed can be a profitable and sustainable income generating entrepreneurial activity for women's self-help groups in rural areas. Using such feed can also help small-scale marginal fish farmers to improve production and reduce their operating costs. This article describes initiatives to train women's self-help groups in formulated feed production in West Bengal, India.

Parasites and disease are amongst the greatest issues affecting Indian aquculture, incurring substantial economic losses every year. Due to disease risk, some farmers may use antibiotics as a prophylactic measure, with consequent risk of increasing anti-microbial resistance. Organic aquaculture has the potential to allow reduced chemical inputs, but must be coupled with other paradigms to alleviate disease issues. The Fish Welfare Initiative believes that measures to improve animal welfare, in particular water quality and stocking density, can contribute to improved animal health outcomes.

Videos from our recent webinar Status of the use of Artemia cysts in fish and crustacean hatcheries around the world are now available on NACA's Youtube channel. Please consider subscribing for more technical aquaculture content!