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Inventory of Ichyofaunal Diversity, Fishing Gear and Craft in Turag River, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Naser Ahmed Bhouiyan, Mohammad Abdul Baki*, Anirban Sarker and Md. Muzammel Hossain

Department of Zoology, Jagannath University, Dhaka-1100, Bangladesh

Corresponding Author:
Mohammad Abdul Baki
Assistant Professor
Department of Zoology
Jagannath University
Dhaka-1100, Bangladesh
Tel: +8801610184562
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: November 03, 2015; Accepted Date: April 13, 2016; Published Date: April 20, 2016

Citation: Bhouiyan NA, Baki MA, Sarker A, Hossain Md M (2016) Inventory of Ichthyofaunal Diversity, Fishing Gear and Craft in Turag River, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fish Aquac J 7:165. doi:10.4172/2150-3508.1000165

Copyright: © 2016 Bhouiyan NA, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Biodiversity of many Bangladesh Rivers is seriously threatened by industrial and municipal pollution. The study was conducted in the Turag River starting from Amin Bazar bridge (23°47' N 90°20'E) to Kamarpara bridge (23°53' N 90°23'E). This inventory survey was sampled at a fortnightly interval usually between 7.00 am to 5.00 pm by a team using a boat from December 2012 to November 2013. Detailed information on catch by species, fish length & weight, different types of gear & craft were collected through direct observation. A total of 71 (65 indigenous and 6 exotic) fish species (under 25 families of 9 orders) have been identified. 17 different types of gears of two categories (active and passive gear) and 8 different types of crafts were observed to harvest fish in the study area. The survey revealed that rising floodwater stimulated an increase in fishing activities in the study area from July to October. Fish numbers were recorded lower from November to July (dry and pre-monsoon period) likely due to reduced water flow and adverse water quality of this river. A paired t-test indicate that fish species numbers were significantly difference between Dry and pre-monsoon (P=0.02), Dry and monsoon (P=0.02) and Dry and post-monsoon season (P=0.03) respectively. However, fisheries resources contribution is very limited for livelihood of the surrounding people.


Fish species; Fishing activity; Flood water; Water quality; Extinct


Population growth has resulted in increasing demand for the use of rivers to satisfy a diverse range of human needs, including solid waste disposal and the discharge of industrial, sewage and mining effluents. The modifications to rivers disrupt the aquatic ecosystem and diminish its integrity [1-3] affecting the capacity of fish and other organisms to survive. However, most of the wild populations have seriously declined in rivers and streams of Bangladesh due to over exploitation augmented by various ecological changes and degradation of the natural habitats [4]. Water quality has been affected by a combination of factors including sewage and industrial wastes and agricultural runoff [5]. The large input of organic matter to aquatic flood plain habitats may reduce dissolved oxygen and result in the emigration or death of a great number of fishes [6]. It has been established that pollution of the river impacts key physiochemical properties of water thereby causing reduced dissolved oxygen (DO) level [7]. Fishes are relatively sensitive to changes in their surrounding environment. The concept of using fish communities as biological indicator has been historically followed by several authors [8,9]. Their size, community composition and structure often reflect nutrient status of a water body. Fish health may therefore reflect and give a good indication of the status of specific aquatic ecosystem [10,11].

Turag River of Bangladesh is a tide-influenced River passing through west-north and north of Dhaka City [12]. In the recent past, the human population, different industries, agricultural land converted into industrial and housing development land, brick fields around the Turag river basin has increased tremendously caused serious environmental pollution through discharging their untreated effluents directly or indirectly into river water. Industrial area possesses about 29 heavy industries and this cluster of industries of the capital city generates 7,159 kg effluents daily discharge and pollutants enter freely into the river [13]. In September 2009, four rivers around the Dhaka city-the Buriganga, the Sitalakhaya, the Turag and the Balu, were declared as Ecologically Critical Areas (ECAs) by the Government of Bangladesh. Therefore, it is imperative to monitor the aquatic fauna of this river. However, the documented sources of pollution in this river are widely varied and range from Industrial Effluents; Solid Waste; Textile Dyeing Industries; Municipal and Sewerage Disposal; Heavy Metal in sediment and water; Oil discharge. These industries discharge untreated wastewaters into river containing various types of hazardous chemicals including enzymes, detergents, dyes, acids, alkalies, salts and toxic heavy metals [14-18].

Most of these wastes are non-biodegradable and continuously leaching pollutant into the water body. However, several studies indicated that the Turag river water and sediment are highly contaminated [5,19,20]. Therefore, the need for water body specific detailed biodiversity studies [21]. No quantitative data for assessing fish abundance is available for this river system. The objective of this study is to assess the ichyofaunal diversity of River Turag. We will classify fish species, how seasonal changes in water level impact the diversity of species.

Materials and Methods

Study area and period

The Turag is 75 km long of which only about 18.4 km are within the study area starting (Figure 1) from Amin Bazar bridge (23°47’ N 90°20’E) to Kamar para bridge (23°53’ N 90°23’E). Turag is the upper tributary of the Buriganga, a major river in Bangladesh. Turag River is supposed to derive massive pollutant loadings from industrial effluents directly as industries, textiles, dyeing and pharmaceuticals have clustered here. There are numerous canals, channels, and pipes directly discharging industrial, municipal and domestic sewage into the Turag, these observed by our study period (Figure 2). During the monsoon season, the water quality improves moderately, but on the advent of the dry season, pollution concentration increases abruptly because the water level of the rivers reduces a lot at this time, but the rate of pollutants released into the rivers remains identical. This inventory survey work of the Turag River was sampled inside at fortnightly interval for a total of 12 months from December 2012 to November 2013.


Figure 1: Map of Turag River.


Figure 2: Different types of threats for fish in the Turag River.

Sampling procedure

A team of two biologists carried out continuous survey using a boat. Detailed information on catch by species and different types of gear and craft were collected while fishermen were harvesting fish in the river. Survey procedure also included recording individual fish length and weight. Survey was usually made between 7.00 am to 5.00 pm. Materials were included digital camera, measuring tape, spring balance, polythene bags, data sheet, pencil, rubber band, map and other field logistics. The samples were photographed, immediately prior to preservation. The fish specimens caught by each fishing gears were also recorded separately.

Fish and gear identification

Fish identification, common and scientific names used throughout this study are in accordance with pictorial books and gear identified by Ahmed N [22-24].

Type of habitat preference categories

Fish species were divided into three categories according to [25] which are define below.

Riverine: Species usually found in rivers and estuaries throughout their life cycle with no dependence on the floodplain, although some of these species can be found more extensive floodplains.

Migratory: Species which move between river and floodplain during different stages in their life cycle. It remains unclear whether such movements are obligatory for their survival.

Floodplain resident (sedentary): Species which are generally sedentary and are capable of surviving in the perennial waters on the floodplain throughout the year. Many of these species also in habit a variety of other habitats including large rivers.

Hydrological year

Hydrological year can be divided into four seasons according to [25].

Rising flood (pre-monsoon): May-June.

Full flood (monsoon): July- September.

Flood drawdown (post monsoon): October-November.

Dry season (winter): December-April.

Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) set up a water level monitoring station at Turag River for forecasting the flood situation of Dhaka city. This station was located at 23°78’33’’ and N 90°34’E for the daily monitoring of the water level of Turag River which included a staff gages. Therefore, this study collected the daily water depth data during study period from BWDB office, 72 Green Road, Farmgate, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh metrological department showed that pre-monsoon, monsoon, post-monsoon and dry period in 2013 received average rainfall in Dhaka city was 339.9, 330.0, 103.35 and 54.3 mm respectively.

Statistical analysis

We used a paired t-test to test whether the fish species number in different seasons were significantly different between dry season and pre-monsoon, dry season and monsoon, dry season and post monsoon or not. Correlation analysis was also done among water depth, fish species and fishing activity.



The measurement of water depth, increased and depletion of Turag River water in different months are shown in Figure 3. Depth of Turag River water starts to rise in May due to pre-monsoon water. This initial increase in discharge is followed by very sharp rise, usually occurring in July to reach flood peaks in August and September. This is result of monsoon. Depth of water normally decreases after peaks of September onwards, reaching a minimum level in March. Water depth data clearly show that water depth is lower in the winter and pre-monsoon (from December to June) periods compared to monsoon and post-monsoon period (July to November). There is no detectable change of water depth in Turag during winter period due to flow of water in this period.


Figure 3: Daily water level of Turag River for study period.

Identification of fish species in Turag River

A total of 71 species of freshwater fishes (65 indigenous and 6 exotic species) belonging to 9 orders and included under 25 families were found in Turag River. Each of the individuals of all the species length and weight observations were recorded for the 71 fish species analyzed in this study also. Among fish species, 9 endangered, 5 critically endangered and 12 vulnerable species were classified respectively (Table 1).

Order Family Scientific name English name Local name Length (cm) Weight (gm) Local Status
Osteoglossiformes Notopteridae Chitala chitala Humped Featherback Chital, Chetol 24 90 En
Notopterus notopterus Grey Featherback Foli, Fholui 16 40 Vu
Cluperiformes Clupeidae Tenualosa ilisha River Shad, Hilsa Shad Ilish, Ilsha 10 10  
Engraulidae Gudusia chapra Indian river shad Chapila 10 10  
Channiformes Channidae Channa punctata Spotted Snakehead Taki, Lata, Lati 20 67  
Channa striatus Snakehead Murrel Shol 13 48  
Channa marulius Great Snakehead Gajar, Gajari 19 170 En
Channa orientalis Walking Snakehead Gachua, Cheng 13 15 Vu
Cypriniformes Cyprinidae Amblypharyngodon mola Mola carplet Mola, Moa 5 5  
Barbonymus gonionotus Java Barb Thai Sarpunti 27 300  
Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Silver Carp Silver Carp 29 210  
Aristichthys nobilis Bighead Carp Bighead 46 1250  
Labeo calbasu Black Rohu, Kalbasu Kalibaus, Baus 23 200 En
Catla catla Catla Catla, Katla 440 31  
Cyprinus carpio Common carp Carpu 42 2450  
Cirrhinus cirrhosus Mrigal carp Mrigal, Mirka 13 45  
Labeo rohita Rohu, Rohu Carp Rui, Rohit 220 27  
Labeo gonius Kuria Labeo Ghannya, Goni 22 520 En
Labeo bata Bata Labeo Bata, Bhangan Bata 13 45 En
Cirrhinus reba Reba Tatkini, Bata 10.5 15 Vu
Labeo boggut Boggut Labeo Ghania , Gohria 14 50  
Osteobrama cotio Cotio Keti, Dhela, Dhipali 4.5 2 En
Puntius sarana Olive Berb Sar Punti 7 7 Cr
Puntius sophore Spotfin Swamp Barb Punti, Jat Punti 6 5  
Puntius chola Swamp Barb, Chola Barb Chalapunti, Punti 6 5  
Puntius terio One spot Barb Teri Punti 6 6 Vu
Puntius guganio Grass barb Mola punti 6 5  
Puntius conchonius Rosy Barb, Red Barb Kanchan Punti 6 5  
Rasbora daniconius Common Rasbora Darkina 6 1  
Salmostomaphulo FinescaleRazorbelly Minnow Fulchela 7 3  
Salmostoma bacaila Large Razorbelly Minnow Narkalichela 6 4  
Aspidoparia jaya Jaya Jaya, Peali 7 3  
Cobitidae Botia dario Queen Loach, Bengal Loach Rani 8 7 En
Lepidocephalichthys guntea Guntea Loach Gutum 8 5  
Siluriformes Bagridae Mystus bleekeri Stripped Dwarf catfish Bajari Tengra, Bujri 11 9  
Mystus tengara Day's Mystus Gulsha Tengra 6 4  
Mystus cavasius Gangetic Mystus Kabashi Tengra, 8 7 Vu
Mystus vittatus Stripped Dwarf catfish Tengra 7 8  
Sperata aor Long Whiskered Ayre 21 120 Vu
Siluridae Wallago attu Boal Boal, Boali 14 15  
Schilbeidae Ailia coila Gangetic Ailia Kajuli, Bashpata 10 5  
Ailia punctata Jamuna Ailia Kajuli, Bashpata 10 5 Vu
Clupisoma garua Garua Bacha, Gagra Garua Bacha 18 50 Cr
Eutropiichthys murius Murius vacha Muri bacha 15 30  
Eutropiichthys vacha Batchwa vacha, Bacha Bacha, Garua Bacha 15 30 Cr
Pangasiidae Pangaius pangaius Pungas Pangas 10 15 Cr
Sisoridae Bagarius bagarius Gangetic Goonch Baghair 14.5 245 Cr
Gagata cenia Indian Gagata Cenia, Jungla 7 8  
Heteropneustidae Heteropneustes fossilis Stinging Catfish Shing, Jiol 15 25  
Loricariidae Hypostomus plecostomus Suckermouth catfish Choshok machh 18 75  
Synbranchiformes Synbranchidae Monopterus cuchia Cuchia Kuchia,Kuicha 51 180 Vu
Perciformes Ambassidae Pseudambassis lala Highfin Glassy Perchlet Lal Chanda 3.5 1  
Pseudambassis baculis Himalayan Glassy Perchlet Kata Chanda 3.5 1  
Chanda nama Elongate Glass-perchlet Nama Chanda 5 2 Vu
Pseudambassis ranga Indian Glassy fish Ranga Chanda 6.5 2 Vu
Sciaenidae Otolithoides pama Pama Croaker, Pama Poa, Poma 13 50 C
Nandidae Nandus nandus Mottled Nandus Bheda, Meni 13 50 Vu
Cichlidae Oreochromis mossambicus Tilapia Tilapia 21 200  
Oreochromis niloticus Nile Tilapia Nilotica,Tilapia 26 325  
Gobiidae Glossogobius giuris Tank Goby Bele, Bailla 7 3  
Anabantidae Anabas testudineus The Climbing Perch Koi, Kai 17 60  
Osphronemidae Colisa lalia Red Gourami Lal khalisha 4.5 4  
Colisa fasciata Stripled Gourami Khalisha, cheli 5.5 12  
Ctenops nobilis Indian paradisefish, Frail Gourami Naftani, Napit khailsha 5 2 En
Mastacembelidae Macrognathus pancalus Striped Spinyeel Guchi Baim 10 10  
Macrognathus aculeatus Lesser Spiny Eel Tara Baim 25 20 Vu
Mastacembelus armatus Tire-track Spiny Eel Sal Baim, Bro Baim 28 70 En
Mugilidae Rhinomugil corsula Corsula Mullet Khalla 4 8  
Beloniformes Belonidae Xenentodon cancila Needle Fish Kankila, Kakila 18 10  
Tetraodontiformes Tetraodon Tetraodon cutcutia Ocellated pufferfish Tepa, Potka 9 6  
Tetraodon fluviatilis Green puffer fish Potka 3.5 4  

Table 1: Identification of Fish species in the Turag River.

Seasonal impact on fish distribution

Seasonal changes in the fisheries of rivers may be determined by fishing activities, cyclical changes in discharge, water velocity, water level and water pollution which in turns greatly influence the relative abundance of different species of fish. Clear seasonal patterns in the variation of total number of species recorded in this study area were evident (Figure 4). Most of the species was observed from August to November (during monsoon and post monsoon period) for 4 months only. It can be seen that the higher species numbers were captured from July to November with two peaks in August and October (Figure 4) respectively. Correlation analysis between water depth and fish species number (r=0.74) and fishing activities (r=0.96) showed strong correlation. A paired t-test indicate that fish species numbers were significantly difference between dry and pre-monsoon (P=0.02), dry and monsoon (P=0.02) and dry and post-monsoon season (P=0.03) respectively. Fish species numbers rose fairly sharply from July when floodwaters also rose during monsoon (July-September) (Figure 4). So peak observed in August may be associated with monsoon because there is different kind of fishes which breeding cycle and migrations up and down river related with monsoon. Whilst second and highest peak in October was associated with flood drawdown (October-November) coincided with the entry of floodplain fishes into the river. The importance of the flood drawdown period to the catch of other species can clearly be seen as number of species increased (Figure 4) which had migrated from the rapidly drying floodplains. However, highest fish diversity was observed in October compared to August peak. These results support that the fish species composition was greatly influences by the flood water situation. Also is showed that the study proportion of the length of the rivers is fish less during this period. Despite this, water level and flow also sharply reduced in this period (Figure 3).


Figure 4: Monthly distribution of Fish species.

Gear and its distribution, number of species in gear

List of gears, trap and hooks are presented for this river in Figure 5. A total of 17 different types of fishing gears of two categories (active and passive gear) were observed to harvest fish in the study area. Dominant gear was cast net observed for 10 months followed by lift net (khora jal) observed for 7 months. Higher numbers (7-14) of the gears were used from July to November while extremely lower numbers (1-3) from December to June (Figure 6). The highest numbers of fish species were found in lift net (khora jal) and the lowest number of fish species was found in Box trap (Chai).


Figure 5: Different types of gears used for fishing in the Turag river: 1. Bel jal/Khora jal (Lift net, active gear) 2. Bash jal (Drag net, active gear) 3. Borshi (Hand line) 4. Borshi (Long line) 5. Carrent jal (Gill net, passive gear) 6. Uthar jal (Cast net, active gear) 7. Dharma jal/ toni jal (Lift net, active gear) 8. Moi jal (Drag net, active gear) 9. Jhaki jal Cast net) 10. Ber jal (Seine net, active gear) 11. Chai (Box trap) 12. Anta (Box trap). 13. Felun jal (Triangle trap, active gear).


Figure 6: Monthly Gear distribution in Turag River.


No previous statistics of fish fauna in this river was found and thus comparison of the present findings with previous one was not possible. This problem seemed not new in Bangladesh while working with fish diversity [21,26] and indicates the need for water-body specific fish diversity study in Bangladesh. The fish species of study area has been classified in terms of “endangered”, “critically endangered”, or “vulnerable” fish species by IUCN Bangladesh 2000 [27]. This same characteristic was noted in rivers Jamuna and Padma [25]. However, fish species numbers gradually decrease from October to November when gear number gradually increased in these months. This results indicated that reduce number of fish in these months may be associated with increased fishing activities. But fish species and gear numbers were sharply decreased starting from November. This continues till June with more or less constant number of fish and gear respectively. Our data indicated that there was almost zero catches during these periods.

Very low dissolved oxygen (DO) 1.9 mg/l to 0.7 mg/l) were recorded in this river from November to June (Dry and Pre-monsoon period) by Sharmin [28]. Furthermore, Rahman measured the DO concentration of Turag was lower from December to April and lowest value was 0.11 mg/l [5]. When DO goes below 4 to 5 mg/l, the survival of water organisms begin to go down, when anaerobic condition exists, higher life form like fish may be driven out. Furthermore, our data indicated that only Channa puctata, Heteropneustes fossilis and Anabas testudinus were observed during Dry and Pre-monsoon periods in the study area. Heteropneustes fossilis can respire aerially by gulping in air at various intervals when the oxygen content of water is low, [29]. The air-breathing apparatus of these species enables it to exist in almost any kind of water. Ahmed mentioned that Black fish have a broad environmental tolerance and can sustain the harsh conditions during the dry season [30]. Black fish include members of the Clariidae, Siluridae and Ophiocephalidae. However, only presence of these species during Dry and Pre-monsoon periods indicated that the health of river is highly polluted. Coates indicated that environmental degradation and habitat loss, not excessive fishing effort, is reported as the major cause of declining fisheries in most rivers under stress situation [31]. Furthermore, Naidu mentioned that the amount of catch depends upon its productivity of the fishing grounds [32]. Therefore, the extreme significantly lower number and diversity of fishes (almost zero) were recorded in Dry and Pre-monsoon period mainly due to adverse water quality of this river not for increased fishing activities. The lowest quality in fish assemblages occurred near cities that receive large amount of organic and industrial pollutants [33,34]. Considering the mentioned fact, it is noted that observed almost zero catch from December to June caused by reduced water flow and adverse water quality which may lead towards extinct of fishes from this river at least in this period if something is not done for their conservation.

In conclusion, this study provides the first basic and baseline information on ichyofaunal diversity, fishing Gear and Craft in the Turag river that would be beneficial for fishery biologists and conservationists to impose adequate regulations for sustainable fishery management and conservation of biodiversity for the river as well as for other rivers in Bangladesh.


Special thanks to professional staff associated with the Turag River Biological Survey, for field collection assistance and for professional training and other courtesies. Funding for this study was provided Jagannath University in support of the Baki’s Lab as research grant 2012-2013.



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  1. Acrl
    Posted on Aug 18 2016 at 5:43 pm
    The article represents the faunal diversity of river turag with classification of fish species, with seasonal changes in water level with effect on diversity of species. Authors have cleanly provided first baseline information on management and conservation of river biodiversity. The document is a significant addition to the scientific literature in this field.

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