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‘Tank cleaners’ end up on the plate

21 December 2013 01:56 am - 4     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The fresh water fish popularly known as “tank cleaners” or “scavenger fish” may become part of our diet soon with its numbers showing a drastic increase in rivers, canals and streams.

Already the fish is being caught and sold near the Victoria Reservoir in Kandy at Rs.400 a kilo.

Peradeniya University Animal Science Department Professor Udeni Edirisinghe said the scavenger fish were non-poisonous and suitable for human consumption either in the form of fresh fish or as canned fish similar to what’s done with Mackerel and Salmon.

He said the increase in numbers was having an effect on the biodiversity of waterways and therefore fishing it could be beneficial.

“The research carried out in the Victoria Reservoir had revealed that the presence of other kinds of fish including Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio) have reduced by 20 per cent amid the scavenger fish increasing in numbers. They are herbivorous in their eating habits but eggs laid by other fish among water plants may be accidently consumed by the scavenger fish when feeding on plants,” Professor Udeni Edirisinghe said adding that this species could be found in almost all branches of the Mahaveli River.

He said this fish grew to a length of two feet and could survive for hours on shore.

Prof. Edirisinghe said this species was a threat to the fresh water fishing industry because their thickened scales were known to damage fishing nets.

“In an effort to stop the increase in the population of scavenger fish, I suggest that a fine of Rs.10,000 be imposed on those who breed this fish as a hobby and a fine of Rs.50,000 be imposed on aquariums which sell them as pet fish. I also suggest that the breeding of this species be banned in Sri Lanka as done in Singapore,” Prof. Edirisinghe said.(Chaturanga Pradeep)

  Comments - 4

  • zavahir Saturday, 21 December 2013 04:28 AM

    After long time media publish professional article.

    Shehan Sunday, 22 December 2013 10:56 AM

    The article is not about destroying inland fish.
    It is about a particular breed of fish detrimental to other fresh water fish species.

    DR ANURA WEERERATNE Sunday, 22 December 2013 01:54 AM

    The suggestion that this inland fish should be destroyed is outrageous. Sri Lanka needs more and more proteins. Inland fish is a non expensive source of proteins. To harvest sea water fish, the country has to expend foreign exchange on fuel and expensive fishing equipment. Three decades back the writer who was the Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Chairman of the Fisheries Corporation encouraged the inland fishery by offering a 90% subsidy for people to buy canoes and nets to fish in the reservoirs. About 5000 inland fishermen accepted the offer and commenced fishing in our tanks. The country's total fish catch was increased by 20%. A FISH FILLETING factory was started next to the Pimburatawa tank. The frozen produce was marketed in the cities and named "WEVSEER". It was very popular.
    I do not know what happened to this factory.

    Dr Anura Weereratne

    Calistus Jayatilleke Saturday, 21 December 2013 10:31 AM

    At this rate, not only scavengers but one might be forced to eat scavenge too.

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