Considering the invasive nature of the species, Bangladesh has finally banned the cultivation, breeding, transportation, sale and conservation of suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus), as it gradually encroaches on local water bodies and puts local species at risk.

  • Considering its aggressive breeding nature and the threats the species poses to native fish populations, the Bangladesh government has recently banned suckermouth fish.
  • The suckermouth catfish is mainly an aquarium species that was imported into Bangladesh in the 1980s as an ornamental fish and later introduced into water bodies that are home to the country’s main sources of native fish.
  • However, in recent years, the number of suckerfish has increased manifold as local fish species have decreased.
  • Earlier, in 2002, Bangladesh banned two other fish species: African catfish and piranhas.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock issued a gazette notification on Jan. 11 in this regard, said Md. Zia Haider Chowdhury, a senior official of the Department of Fisheries.

With an aim to declare the species as invasive and harmful to other aquatic species, on Sept. 25, the ministry issued a public notification to elicit comments from the public as well as experts on the decision to declare the fish “malicious and banned” by amending the existing Protection and Conservation of Fish Act 1950.

Prior to that, the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) conducted a study to find out the reasons behind the abundance of this exotic species and its negative impacts on local fish resources.

Researchers found the species to be different from the other local species due to its omnivorous dietary habits as well as higher reproductive capacity, said Md. Anisur Rahman, director of BRFI, who led the study.

“Based on our findings and concern over our local fishes, we termed the fish species as malicious,” he said, adding that the fish species even grows and breeds in extremely polluted water like the Buriganga River, where the level of dissolved oxygen is far below acceptable levels.

Another study on U.S. aquatic habitats also suggested suckermouth catfish have unusual food habits as well as reproduction capacity, which together made them densely populated and larger in size, turning them into threats to native fish species.

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