Native Fish Species Of Pakistan

A dwarf gourami.
A dwarf gourami.

Pakistan is a country of diverse landscapes, wildlife, and ecosystems. This variety of landscapes and habitats are especially prominent in its North West frontier province. The rivers and lakes in Pakistan provide habitat for fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Pakistan is home to both indigenous and exotic fish species. There are over 25 native cold water fish species and three exotic fish species restricted to the northern area of the country. The native fish species have been threatened by changing environmental conditions and overfishing in most of the rivers and lakes. Some of the native fish species in Pakistan are looked at below.

Indian Glassy Fish

The Indian Glassy Fish (Parambassis ranga), also referred to as the Indian X-ray fish, is a species of freshwater fish in the Order Perciformes. The fish has a transparent body which reveals its internal organ hence the name Indian X-ray. An adult Indian Glassy Fish measures 85 millimeters in length. The dorsal fin of the male develops a dark edge. Indian Glassy Fish inhabit still water and breeds mainly during the rainy season. It feeds on worms, crustacean, and other small invertebrates. However, this species is also prey for larger fish and other river animals. Indian Glassy Fish are kept as pets in the aquarium despite their delicate nature. In some instances, the species have been dyed to make them more attractive and sometimes sold to unsuspecting fish keepers.

Dwarf Snakehead

The Dwarf Snakehead, Channa gachua, belongs to the group of snakehead fish species. The name “dwarf” was given to the fish to denote the smaller Channa species. The species has a pretty coloration and is small in size usually kept in an aquarium. The adult Dwarf Snakehead grows up to a length of 20 centimeters. It is a mouth brooder and feeds on insects and other small fish. Dwarf Snakehead is a hardy fish which can survive in varying water temperatures and acidity.

Indian Carp

The Indian Carp, Catla catla, also known as the Major carp, belongs to the Carp Family Cyprinidae. This species is found mainly in rivers and lakes in the South Asian countries including Nepal, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Indian Carp has a large, broad head, an upturned mouth, and a large lower jaw. Its scales on the dorsal side are large and grayish in color while the belly is whitish. Indian Carp feeds mainly on the water surface or sub-surface. An adult species feed on zooplankton while the young Indian Carp feeds on phytoplankton in addition to the zooplanktons. The Indian Carp is an important aquacultural fish species, raised in freshwater ponds by many fish farmers in Pakistan.


The Rohu, Labeo rohita, belongs to the carp family, and is found in freshwater rivers across much of South Asia. The species is omnivorous with different feeding styles for different ages. It feeds mainly on zooplankton and phytoplankton. The Rohu is a large fish with a cyprinid shape. The fish is silver-colored and has an arched head. The adult species can grow up to a length of 2 meters and a weight of 50 kilograms. The fish reaches sexual maturity between the age of two and five and spawn during the monsoon season. Fish keepers in Pakistan collect spawns and rear them in ponds and tanks. Rohu is a delicacy in South Asia, and thus it is overfished in most rivers and lakes their, affecting the local Rohu populations significantly.

Native Fish Species Of Pakistan

Native Fish of PakistanScientific Name
Indian Glassy FishParambassis ranga
Dwarf SnakeheadChanna gachua
Indian CarpCatla catla
RohuLabeo rohita
MahasherTor putitora
Snakehead MurrelChanna striata
Dwarf GouramiTrichogaster lalius
Gangetic LeaffishNandus nandus
Banded GouramiTrichogaster fasciata
Blue PerchBadis badis

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