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Fish Farming and Seed Production in Cold Regions of Arunachal Pradesh

Many species of fish are consumed as food in virtually all regions around the world. Fish has been an important source of protein and other nutrients for humans from time immemorial.

Chander Mohan

Many species of fish are consumed as food in virtually all regions around the world. Fish has been an important source of protein and other nutrients for humans from time immemorial.

Mountain countries and regions are characterized by the presence of cold waters, many of which harbour fish and support largely subsistence fisheries. Among the largest mountain systems of the world are the ranges of Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Pamir and Himalayas in Asia. The Himalayan ranges feed several large river systems including those of the Rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus. These rivers, together with their tributaries, support and at the same time threaten the livelihoods of millions of people in the region, before they flow to the sea. Countries situated in these mountains are characterized by poverty and very low level of development.

In Asia, the living aquatic resources of the mountain rivers, lakes and reservoirs constitute an important source of animal protein, but they have been rarely considered in rural development initiatives, perhaps because fish stocks are limited and easily overexploited. They are also vulnerable to activities resulting from human pressure on the environment, such as deforestation and water pollution. High altitude lakes, rivers and streams mostly have a low fish production and can be easily overfished.

While ponds in regions with only mildly cool winters can be filled with nearly any kind of fish without difficulty, areas that are subject to bitter cold, copious snow and thick ice have fewer options. That does not mean, however, that your cold weather pond can't be stocked with a variety of interesting fish. Different types of fish that are hardier in winter ponds include:

Archerfish; Bluegills; Fathead Minnows; Golden Rainbow Trout;Goldfish; Koi; PumpkinseedsRedears; Rosy Red Minnows;  Sterlets;  and Sticklebacks The exact fish that will thrive best in your winter pond will depend on a number of factors, including your pond size and condition, the water depth and the severity of your winters. How well you winterize your pond and what steps you take to protect it from the worst of winter weather can also be crucial for how well different fish survive freezing conditions. If you plan to stock your pond with fish and hope to have them survive the winter, be aware that if your pond freezes solid from top to bottom, no fish will survive, no matter how cold-weather hardy they may be or how well you have winterized the pond.

To give your cold-hardy fish the best chances of survival through the winter. The deeper your pond, the more likely it is that it will not freeze all the way to the bottom and your fish will have room to hibernate through the winter. The entire pond does not need to be deep, but at least one side or section should be 24-36 inches deep or even more if your landscape permits. Larger ponds will also have much higher water volumes to minimize temperature shock during seasonal transitions. Take all the necessary steps to winterize your pond so fish can be healthy and safe through the coldest part of the year.

This may include proper fall cleaning and ensuring there will be adequate ventilation and aeration during the winter months. Remove debris from the pond, including fallen leaves, dead aquatic plants and other detritus that can rot and introduce toxic gasses to the water. If necessary, consider heaters or other winterizing equipment to keep the pond viable as winter progresses. As fish enter their dormant cycle in the fall, be sure you adjust their food accordingly to minimize waste and feces. First, transition to a low-waste autumn food, then slow the feeding schedule, eventually stopping feeding altogether as the fish go dormant. If there is a lot of excrement or excess food left in the water as the temperature drops and the surface begins to freeze, that food will rot and generate gasses that are toxic to the fish. Without an open surface to freshen the water, the fish will slowly suffocate over the winter.

Even with the best preparations to protect the hardiest fish, some losses are to be expected over the winter, especially if the season is unexpectedly harsh or long. With proper care, however, many of your cold-hardy fish will easily survive the winter and return to their thriving activity in spring, bringing your pond to life again.

In view of all these Cold Water Fisheries Research, Bhimtal, Nainital organized a Farmers-Officers-Scientist Interactive Meet at Hari village, Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh on 22nd March 2018 on "Fish farming and seed production in cold regions of Arunachal Pradesh". About 200 participants including 150 women fish farmers attended the program.

A coldwater fish hatchery established by ICAR-DCFR at Hari Village, Ziro was inaugurated during the Meet and fish seed was also distributed to the women farmers.

Shri Er. Tage Taki, Parliamentary Secretary Food and Civil Supplies and MLA was the Chief Guest of the occasion. He urged the farmers to take up fish farming seriously as their vocation which can improve their livelihood security in the region.

Dr. Debajit Sarma, Director, ICAR-DCFR emphasized the role of quality fish seed production in this hilly region to make state self-sufficiency in fish production and enhancing farmers income.

Shri Kemo Lollen, Deputy Commissioner, Lower Subansiri district and Shri Hage Kobin, Zilla Parishad Chairperson were also present on the occasion along with officers from State departments, KVK and other societies.

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