Reviving a local species of Garfish
Scientists of Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) have successfully invented an artificial breeding technique for the almost-lost freshwater garfish, known as Kakila in Bangladesh.
They have also succeeded in adapting this open water fish to a closed environment. As a result, they hope the abundance of Kakila will return in the country.
The research behind the invention was conducted by the BFRI freshwater substation, Jashore's Principal Scientific Officer Dr Md. Rabiul Awal Hossain, Senior Scientific Officer Md Shariful Islam, and Scientific Officer Shishir Kumar Dey.
Speaking to The Daily Star on Wednesady, Shariful said success has come after three years of intensive research.
"We can expect the Kakila to rise again in the water instead of fearing its extinction… This is the first artificial propagation of Kakila in Bangladesh, and no information was found about this fish being artificially bred anywhere else in the world."
BFRI scientists say Kakila is a kind of fish found mostly in open inland freshwater bodies, especially rivers, canals and haors etc. The fish is rich in beneficial micronutrients for the human body.
Once upon a time, Kakila was found in abundance in inland water bodies, but due to climate impacts, natural disasters and various man-made habitats, breeding grounds were damaged and the number of the fish began decreasing drastically. In this context, BFRI began its research to bring back the abundance of this fish.
According to the scientists, Kakila or "Kakhle" is an endangered fish. The type found in Bangladesh is of the freshwater variety. The fish is better known as Kaikala or Kaikka in most parts of Bangladesh.
It is also found in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand. However, there are some differences in colour and size.
Md Rabiul Awal Hossain, the head of the research team and the principal scientific officer, said Kakila mainly eats small fish and breeds in naturally flowing water bodies, especially in rivers and flooded areas during monsoons.
Once mature, the fish live in places with no floating aquatic plants, but their females lay eggs under leaves or floating roots of aquatic plants.
The research team said they collected Kakila brood (mother-father fish) fish from the Padma in Kushtia, adjacent to Rajbari district and released it in a pond in Jashore freshwater sub-station after ensuring oxygen supply in a special method.
Live carp fry produced in hatcheries and other small fish collected from various reservoirs were fed to the fish in the confined environment of the pond.
Following the scientific protocol from May this year, a certain number of mother and father fish were given hormone injections in different doses in the hatchery of the sub-station for the purpose of artificial propagation.
Even though different doses were given several times, there was no success in fish breeding. Finally, on August 25, the eggs hatched and the artificial propagation of Kakila came to fruition.
Rabiul further said that PG (Pituitary Gland) hormone was used for the propagation.
On August 18, four pairs of parent fish were selected from the pond. The pairs were kept together in the pond with a water hyacinth placed. After about 48 hours, the mother fish laid eggs.
The various stages and development of the foetuses inside the eggs were monitored regularly with a microscope. About 90 to 100 hours after the eggs were laid, they hatched.
According to the scientists, 100 grams of edible Kakila fish contains 18.1 percent protein, 2.23 percent lipid, 2.14 percent phosphorus and 0.94 percent calcium, which is much higher than other small fish.
In a press release sent to The Daily Star, Director General of BFRI Dr Yahia Mahmud was quoted as saying that the BFRI has already achieved success in artificial insemination of 30 of 64 endangered fish species of the country. Kakila was added as the 31st.
The BFRI says a live gene bank has been set up at the institute's headquarters in Mymensingh to conserve native fish.
The BFRI had won the Ekushey Padak in 2020 for its special contribution in domestic fish conservation research.