Detrimental impact by a certain type of ornamental fish


Nobody will think that certain cute ornamental fishes usually found in aquarium glass boxes are detrimental to human foodchain while posing a threat to aquatic lives. Now the war between those ornamental fishes and the fish species native to the Ayeyawady river has been waging for two decades.

Problematic ornamental fish
The problem is that this species of ornamental fish Hypostomes plecostomus commonly known as suckerfish may destroy other aquatic lives and the environment in Myanmar. These sucker fish are not native to Myanmar, but their origin is from South America, and they are one of the species of fish imported to Myanmar by ornamental fish importers, according to the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association-BANCA.
Those who breed the fish have difficulty maintaining them when they grow up, so they release them into the nearby rivers and lakes next to monasteries, and the majority of them are growing quickly in many parts of Myanmar.
U Aung Myint Oo, Project Coordinator of the BANCA said that these problematic fishes were first found in fish breeding ponds in Yangon Region’s Thanlyin Township around 2010. Afterwards, by 2018, thousands of these suckerfish had arrived in the fish breeding ponds in Yangon Region’s Twantay Township.
As of today, these problematic sucker fishes are not only found in fish breeding ponds in Yangon Region’s Thanlyin and Twantay townships but they are also reported in Bago Region’s Waw Township and Moeyungyi Wildlife Sanctuary. And it has already spread to Inlay Lake in Shan State. As the suckerfishes are also inhabiting in rivers and creeks, some environmentalists start thinking the ways to tackle the issue.

Detrimental impact by suckerfish fishes
Although it is listed as an ornamental fish, the suckerfish is not so beautiful to look at. A sucker fish is usually 16 to 18 inches in length from the tail to the tip of the head. Some aquariums have suckerfish that grow up to 20 inches. Each one weighs between 46 and 48 ticals (one tical = 16.33 grammes (0.576 ounce)). The length of the front fin is usually up to 8.9 inches.
Fishery workers in fish farming ponds often call them viper catfish because they have small poisonous spines along their body and if other creatures come and contact with them, they may accidentally injure them. But the injury is not too serious.
Fish-eating birds, such as cormorants and waterfowls and carnivorous fish such as snake-head or Murrel fish and boal fish do not catch and eat them, making the suckerfish population increase. In addition, they prey on other fish’s food, such as food capsules, scaring farmed fishes with their poisonous fins to steal their food. So, the farmed fishes are deprived of food and many of them die later.
In natural lakes, ponds and fish breeding ponds, if these types of fish have arrived, the population of existing fish species that people use to eat will gradually become less and less and only suckerfish will be left there. And if the problem of this fish species cannot be tackled, then many problems may come next.

The future of fish species native to the Ayeyawady
There are a total of 388 species of fish living in the Ayeyawady River basin, of which 311 species are found only in Myanmar. Among them, 193 fish species are found only in the Ayeyawady River basin, and 100 fish species are native to Myanmar, according to a report published by Fauna and Flora International -Myanmar Programme.
If suckerfish population continues growing in the Ayeyawady River, the population of other fish species will be reduced, with BANCA calling for urgent solutions to take place.
Translated by TH
Source: Fauna & Flora International- Myanmar Programme
BANCA Suckerfish

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