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Giant Murrel Farming an Urgent Need for Indian Fish Farmers

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  • FISH FARM L.L.C

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42 Ju N e 2010
Giant murrel farming, an urgent
need for Indian fish farmers
M.a. ha n i F F a ,1 M. ja M e s Mi L t o n , y. an a n t h Ku M a r , s.v. ar u n si n G h
a n d r. ar t h i Ma n j u
Among air breathing shes, murrels constitute a unique
group of food shes fetching high market value because of
their taste, few intramuscular spines and medicinal value
(Haniffa et al 2004). Murrels are air breathers and survive
in oxygen depleted water bodies; hence, they are suitable for
protable culture in shallow systems. In as much as the head
resembles that of snakes they are termed snakeheads. About
28-30 Channa species have been reported in the global sce-
nario and 8-10 species occur in India (Table 1). As a result
of anthropogenic stresses, murrels are under threat and, ac-
cording to CAMP (1998), captive breeding and river ranch-
ing are urgently needed for conservation of threatened na-
tive sh species.
The giant murrel, Channa marulius, the striped murrel,
C. striatus and the red line murrel, C. micropeltes, are widely
preferred in India as well as Southeast Asia because of their
large size as food shes (Ng and Lim 1990). When compared
to the striped murrel, the giant murrel is fast growing and
reaches a maximum size of 5.3 kg with longevity ranging
from 5-9 years (Parameswaran 1975). There are reports
from Nepal for a maximum length of 2.5 m and weight of
Table 1. Channa species and categories of threat in Indian rivers and reservoirs (IUCN 1994, CAMP 1998).
S. No Species Name Reference Country Status Purpose
1 Channa amphibeus (Chel or Borna McClelland 1845 India Food
snake head) /Ornamental
2 Channa barca (barca or tiger snakehead) Hamilton 1822 India
3 Channa bleheri (rainbow or jewel Vierke 1991 India Ornamental
snakehead)
4 Channa gachua (dwarf, gacha or frog) Hamilton 1822 India Vulnerable Ornamental
5 Channa marulius (bullseye, murrel, Hamilton 1822 India Lower Risk- Near
snakehead) Threatened Food fish
6 Channa micropeltes (giant or red) Cuvier 1831 India Critically endangered Food fish
7 Channa orientalis (Ceylon or ceylones) Schneider 1801 India Vulnerable Ornamental
8 Channa punctata (dotted or spotted Bloch 1793 India Lower Risk – Near
snakehead) Threatened Food fish
9 Channa stewarti (golden snakehead) Playfair 1867 India Ornamental
10 Channa striata (chevron or striped Bloch 1797 India Lower Risk – Least
snakehead) Concern Food fish
Giant murrel - Channa marulius
15 kg for C. marulius. The giant murrel is widely distributed
in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, China
and Thailand. In India it inhabits freshwater in almost all
the states, including West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya
Wo r l d Aq u A c u l t u r e 43
Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Orissa, Assam, Andhra Pradesh,
Tamilnadu, Kerala and Karnataka (Chakrabarthy 2006).
Murrel culture is about four decades old in our country
with the rst demonstration on the Madras Sunkesula sh
farm (now in AP) by the State Fisheries Department. Fur-
ther attempts made by the State Fisheries Department of
Hyderabad and Bombay and CIFRI Bhadra Centre (Kar-
nataka) have not produced tangible results. Fish farmers in
India are unable to culture murrels because of non-availabil-
ity of ngerlings and lack of feeding and culture techniques.
Fish farmers who have attempted murrel farming have not
succeeded because they have sustained severe mortality from
Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS).
Even though giant murrel culture has a wider scope, it
has not yet become popular for various reasons. Fish farm-
ers in India are not familiar with brood sh nutrition, n-
gerling production, larval rearing and growout culture. In
other words ngerlings and feed are the two major problems
in murrel farming. The latter is not yet standardized because
murrels are carnivorous, piscivorous and cannibalistic. A
technology package for striped murrel culture was devel-
oped by the CARE research team with nancial assistance
from the Department of Science and Technology, New Del-
hi, Government of India (SSP/RD/001/96). The technology
developed was successfully transferred to sh farmers with
assistance from Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi,
Government of India (BT/PR1892/SPD/16/137/2000) by the
research team of the Center for Aquaculture Research and
Striped murrel - Channa striatus
Extension. To popularize giant murrel culture among sh
farmers, the CARE research team collected giant murrel n-
gerlings from Bhavanisagar reservoir, with assistance from
shermen using dragnets. The ngerlings were transported
to the CARE Aquafarm using plastic containers. They were
reared in cement tanks, 4.5 m×4 m×2 m, for a period of one
week during which they were fed beef liver and semi-moist
feed dough (Table 2).
After one week, 200 uniform sized ngerlings were se-
44 Ju N e 2010
Table 2. Biochemical composition of semi moist
dough. Values are reported as percentage
of body weight.
Ingredient Protein Carbohydrate Fat
Anchovy 50 4.9 7.2
Chicken intestine 62 5.2 10.8
Soy flour 52 32 1
Wheat flour 12 65 1.5
Tapioca flour 10 60 1.3
Red line mur-
rel - Channa
micropeltes
After six months, the pond was completely drained and
all the murrels were harvested and measured for length and
weight. No dead sh was observed during the culture period
and we suggest that cannibalism was avoided because equal
size ngerlings were introduced and food was supplied ad
libitum.
In the present study, C. marulius increased from 8 cm and
5 g in the rst month to 34 cm and 280 g after six months of
culture (Table 3). In Bangalore under excellent forage condi-
tions C. marulius attained a size of 45 cm in derelict tanks
in 7 months (Murugesan et al. 1978). Devaraj (1973) studied
the length-weight relationship of C.marulius in Bhavanisa-
gar reservoir. In a study on the length-weight relationship of
C. marulius between CARE-cultured and Bhavanisagar-cap-
tured sh, Devaraj (1973) showed that C. marulius cultured
at the CARE Aquafarm attained 83 percent better growth
(R²= 0.8325) than the captured sh (70 percent; R²= 0.7032;
Figures 1 and 2). From the present study we suggest that 50
kg of giant murrel could be produced from a small earthen
pond of 75 m² within skix months (15,000kg/ ha/year). The
results of this study suggest that murrels can be cultured
more protably than carp.
Notes
1Centre for Aquaculture Research and Extension (CARE),
St.Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Palayamkottai- 627002,
TamilNadu, India. E-mail: haniffacare@gmail.com
Acknowledgments
This work was supported by CSIR Emeritus Scientist
Grant (No.21(0670)/07/EMR-II) to Dr.M.A.Haniffa. We
are grateful to Rev. Dr. Alphonse Manickam, S.J., Principal,
St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai for providing necessary
facilities.
References
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Report of the Workshop on Conservation Assessment and
EUS affected murrel
Fingerlings of giant murrel
lected (length = 8.05 ± 0.52cm, weight = 5.08 ± 0.26g) were
introduced into a culture pond. The culture pond was rect-
angular (15 m×5 m) 1 m deep. All four sides were covered
with cement, whereas the bottom was lled with clay to
a depth of 25 cm. Cow manure and lime were added one
week before the introduction of the ngerlings. To adjust
for water loss from seepage and evaporation, water was sup-
plied from a nearby bore well to maintain the water depth.
Water temperature ranged from 27-29ºC, dissolved oxygen
from 6.5-7.1 ppm, pH from 7.0-7.2, salinity was 1.77±0.005
ppt, and ammonia was measured at 0.26±0.02 mg/L during
the culture period. The ngerlings were fed semi-moist feed
dough (Table 2) along with minced chicken intestine during
the rst four months. Afterwards they were fed exclusively
on minced chicken intestine. Every month sh samples were
collected from using the drag net. Length and weight mea-
surements were recorded periodically after which the sh
were returned to the pond.
During the six month study period water was completely
drained from the pond only once, after 3 months, and all the
murrels were measured for length and weight and observed
for diseases and deformities. In our previous study with
striped murrel, we documented deformities in the thoracic
and tail regions. In this study one murrel showed a verte-
bral deformity, whereas all the other murrels were normal,
healthy and showed no signs of EUS.
Wo r l d Aq u A c u l t u r e 45
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Table 3. Length and weight of C.marulius cultured
at CARE Aquafarm.
Month Length (cm) Weight (g)
1 8.05 ± 0.52 5.08 ± 0.26
2 10.5 ± 0.72 7.15 ± 0.86
3 15.7 ± 0.19 28.09 ± 0.97
4 21.3 ± 4.42 129.1 ± 6.84
5 27.6 ± 6.3 203.3 ± 4.63
6 33.9 ± 2.60 277.5 ± 3.56
Harvest of giant murrels
Fig. 1. Length-weight relationship of C.marulius cultured at
CARE Aquafarm.
Fig. 2. Length-weight relationship of C.marulius captured from
Bhavanisagar Reservoir (Devaraj 1973).
... The spotted snakehead C. punctatus (Bloch 1793) is one of the most prized freshwater food fish species in India for its good taste, high nutritive value and recuperative as well as medicinal qualities (Vijayakumar et al. 1998) As an air breather, they can survive in oxygen-depleted water bodies, hence are suitable for profitable culture in shallow systems. Over the last few years, its wild population has waned due to over-fishing, loss of habitat and introduction of alien species (Haniffa et al. 2004(Haniffa et al. , 2010. Besides, environmental pollutants are other anthropogenic factors responsible for the decline in its general health status and population Usmani 2013, 2015). ...
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Full-text available
The present study aimed to investigate the direct effect of endocrine disruptor, bisphenol A (BPA), on phagocytosis, superoxide production and nitric oxide release by splenic phagocytes of the teleost Channa punctatus. BPA is a xenoestrogen and has been identified as potent exotoxic agent in aquatic ecosystems. Our observations indicated differential immunomodulatory effects on teleost phagocyte activities. Fish splenic phagocytes were incubated in RPMI-1640 culture medium for 16 h with either BPA or E2 at varying concentrations ranging from 10⁻⁹ M to 10⁻⁶ M. Incubation with both BPA and E2 showed a significant (P < 0.05) increase in superoxide production. Conversely, phagocytosis was depressed at all concentrations, while NO release was significantly less (P < 0.05) at 10⁻⁸ M to 10⁻⁷ M concentrations of BPA and 10⁻⁹ M to 10⁻⁶ M concentrations of E2. The present study thus indicated that BPA can modulate innate immune responses in teleost C. punctatus by altering fish immune cell activities, thereby affecting general fitness of the entire population.
Biology of the large snakehead Ophicephalus marulius (Ham.) in Bhavanisagar waters
  • M Devaraj
Devaraj, M. 1973. Biology of the large snakehead Ophicephalus marulius (Ham.) in Bhavanisagar waters. Indian Journal of Fish 20:280-307.
Some salient features of fishery of Air breathing fishes in Karnataka
  • V K Murugesan
  • P Kumaraiah
Murugesan, V.K. and P. Kumaraiah. 1978. Some salient features of fishery of Air breathing fishes in Karnataka. Proceedings. All India Society on Ichthyology Modinagar:13-19.
Snakehead (Pisces: Channidae) natural history, biology and economically importance. Pages 127-152
  • P K L Ng
  • K K P Lim
Ng,P.K.L. and K.K.P.Lim. 1990. Snakehead (Pisces: Channidae) natural history, biology and economically importance. Pages 127-152. In C.L. Ming and P.K.L. Ng, editors. Essay in Zool-ogy papers commemoration the 40
Murrels & murrel culture
  • N M Chakrabarty
Chakrabarty, N.M. 2006. Murrels & murrel culture. Narendra Publishing House, Delhi, India.
Investigation on the biology of some fishes of the genus Channa gronovius
  • S Parameswaran
Parameswaran, S. 1975 Investigation on the biology of some fishes of the genus Channa gronovius, Ph.D. Thesis Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, India.
CAMP) for Freshwater fishes of India. Zoo Out reach Organization and NBFGR
  • Management Plan
Management Plan (CAMP) for Freshwater fishes of India. Zoo Out reach Organization and NBFGR, Lucknow, India. Chakrabarty, N.M. 2006. Murrels & murrel culture. Narendra Publishing House, Delhi, India.
International Union for Conservation of Nature). 1994. The Conservation on Biological Diversity. An explanatory guide International Union for Conservation of Nature. Environ
  • Iucn
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). 1994. The Conservation on Biological Diversity. An explanatory guide International Union for Conservation of Nature. Environ. Law Center of World Conservation Union.