Advances in Fishery, Aquaculture and Hydrobiology

Commentary - (2021) Volume 9, Issue 3

Ornamental fisheries of India
Chandrasekar Pabhu*
Central Marine Fisheries, Research Institute, Kochi, Kerala, India
*Correspondence: Chandrasekar Pabhu, Central Marine Fisheries, Research Institute, Kochi, Kerala, India,

About the Study

What is ornamental fish?

They are aquatic species that are mostly sold or reared for their beauty, decorative and exhibition purpose rather than for consumption. Goldfish, tropical fish, koi etc. are some of the ornamental fish. Ornamental fishes are also known as “live jewels” because of their colour and playful nature.


Fish keeping is an age old practice, ancient people used various container and vessels for such purpose that permitted them viewing from top. Vivarium was the first type aquarium used in that age which was usually displayed in restaurants. Later, vivarium got modified to aquarium. First public aquaria as established in Paris and London in 19th century. India’s first aquarium was established in first 20th century. The aquaria has now established in homes schools, offices, laboratories, tourist places etc. Today, culture of ornamental fish for aquarium is a rewarding industry and in more of demand and fish keeping indoors has become a more popular practice.

India’s ornamental fisheries

Today, India contributes almost 1% of total ornamental fish trade in the world. An India rank 31st among the world’s exporting countries. Due to presence of rich biodiversity of species, climatic conditions and availability of cheap labour, India has great potential in ornamental fish production. In India, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are states mainly practicing ornamental fish farming fish. India is rich resources of highly attractive and varied types of ornamental fish which are majorly obtained from viz., rivers, streams, the lagoons and coral reefs.

Types of fish farming

Fish farming can be done in two ways: Extensive and Intensive

Ornamental species are divided or categorized into indigenous species and exotic species. Indigenous species are mostly found in North-eastern states, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. From India, majorly wild varieties are exported, which are majorly obtained from rivers of the Northeast and Southern States. Great demand for exotic species is also seen due to its colour, shape and appearance. 90% of India exports go from Kolkata which is followed by 8% from Mumbai and then 2% from Chennai. In India, trade of ornamental fish, mostly deals with freshwater fish (90%) of which 98% are cultured and 2% are captured from wild and remaining 10% are marine fishes of which 98% are captured and 2% culture. In India, breed exotic fishes are breed more compared to indigenous, marine and brackish water fish.

Some indigenous freshwater ornamental fishes:

Puntius arulius

Puntius filamentosus

Aplocheilus panchax

Amblypharyngodon mola

Horabagrus brachysoma

Mystus vittatus

Some indigenous marine ornamental fishes:

Pomacentrus caeruleus

Ostracion cubicus

Scarus ghobban

Odonus niger

Narcine timlei

Some commercially important ornamental fishes cultured in India

Freshwater ornamental fishes


Koi Carp





Marine ornamental fishes



Rabbit fish

Moorish Idol

Among all the species, Goldfish has more demand and preference.

Some recent initiatives towards ornamental fisheries development in India

NFDB: National Fisheries Development Board It provides financial assistance for the development of ornamental fisheries in the country Provides backyard rearing units, medium scale rearing units,Also provides integrated (breeding-cum-rearing) units, Gives aquarium fabrication units and Ornamental fish markets

CMFRI: Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute It was initiated for preparing document on green certification of marine ornamental fish. It gives assistance for seed production techniques standardized for variety of Marine ornamental fishes and supply of fingerlings to farmers.

MPEDA: Marine Products Export Development Authority It helps in Organizing Domestic Fairs at various locations over the country to disseminate the vast potential of the fisheries, aquaculture and ornamental fish sectors.

Conducts skill development programmers in ornamental fish farming.

India has recently introduced a scheme to award incentives on export of ornamental fishes

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