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A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andrew Rao.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:29 pm
Andrew Arunava Rao is a well known native Indian fish expert and fish collector.


Standing on the 'Phum' or floating vegetation at the Loktak Lake, Manipur (Photo Credit: Nilanjan Mukherjee)[/center]
Question: When were you attracted towards fishes?
Answer: When I was in Class 8, that was in 1978.

Question: When did you setup your first fish tank?
Answer: In 1978, at our School (La Martinere) we class mates had participated in the Science Exhibition and our theme was Aquatic Life in around our city. Among the many aquarium exhibits we had put up there was old iron frame triangular tank which was borrowed for usage. After the exhibition the person told me I could have that tank and thus started my hobby in fish keeping.

Mirik loach.jpg

Grizzled Loach (Schistura inglisi) from high up in the Darjeeling Siwaliks at Rhimbi ck nearby the Singalila Wild life Sanctuary, West Bengal.[/center]

Question: Which Indian native fish is your most favorite and why?
Answer: Well, most Indian natives I like and in my formative years I’ve kept plenty of Gouramies such as Dwarf, Honey and Striped and was successful in breeding these and it was a joy to see the fries hatching and eventually growing out to adulthood.

Question: Have you faced any accident/problems during any collection trip?
Answer: Luckily no accidents, but small falls and slips resulting in minor injuries are quite common. Problems !!! That’s a different story altogether. Have faced plenty, from hoodlums and security forces and a few times from wild elephants.


Saddleback Loach (Schistura devdevi) introduced this year to the trade from the Torsa river in Cooch Behar, West Bengal.[/center]

Question: What is the view of your family/close relatives towards your hobby and business?
Answer: From family great support in every way. From relatives close or distant in the beginning when I had commenced in small trade, the response was I’ve gone ahead and wasted / spoilt my life. When business developed and financial situation improved there were requests for pointers to start a similar business.

Question: Have you found any new species ever?
Answer: Plenty, many described or in the process. This year in the first quarter I’ve got around seven species of fish unknown to science. One species the Slaty Leaf Fish was named after me : Nandus andrewi.

Question: Which region of India has plenty of fish species?
Answer:South Western India and the entire North East.


Red Bee Catfish (Pseudolaguvia cf. shawi) a diminuitive species of catfish from the Manas river at Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Assam.[/center]

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andew Rao.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:36 pm
Question: You are well known to breed most of native Indian fishes. Please share some of your secrets behind your success. Have you developed any new technique by your experience?
Answer: Unfortunately not so, in the formative and early years of my hobby I have bred Anabantids such as the three species of Colisa but later into the trade I have largely focused my energies in exploring new areas to look for new fish and color variants of existing species. I have since then specialized in transporting these safely and conditioning for eventual distribution for aquaria around the globe.

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Red Rimmed Goby (Acentrogobius viridipunctatus) a medium sized brackish goby from Canning, West Bengal.[/center]

Question: How many tanks are you running at present?
Answer: I have both cement as well as glass tanks totaling more than 500 currently.

Question: Please tell us about your published research papers, books etc.
Answer: I have done a few articles for the OFI Journal and a couple of aquarium magazines, one from England and the other from Japan. Coauthored a paper on wild Zebra Danio for the Washington University. Coauthored a book on Indian Native fish published in 1999.

Question: You have done expeditions in mostly biotopes of Indian sub-continent. Please elaborate some of those biotopes.
Answer: I have put great efforts in collecting fish from temperate zones and even cold water areas at altitudes above 4000 feet Above sea Level (ASL) which was immensely challenging. Not all fish from these areas have proved successful commercially but much contribution has been provided to science and fisheries. In addition in 1996 I had explored extensively various lush tropical fish habitat in Kerala and have subsequently introduced to aquarists the world over for the very first time such favorites as the Dwarf Puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) and the Red Line Torpedo Barb (Puntius denisonii) and from the Western Ghats in Karnataka the Canara Banded Cichlid (Etroplus canarensis)


Pink Burrowing Goby (Trypauchen vagina) from the Matla mudflats at Jharkali, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal[/center]

Fish anatomy

Question a. How to measure fishes? Please explain about Standard Length, Total Length and Body Depth etc.
Answer: Standard Length (SL) is the length of the fish from tip of snout to base of caudal fin. In simple terms the length of the fish without the tail. The Total Length (TL) is the length of the fish including the tail. Body Depth (BD) is the measurement across the deepest part of the fish body, in most case measured at the origin of the dorsal fin.

Question: b. How to count scales of fishes?
Answer: There are many methods to count scales, the simple is the Lateral line scale count. If you look at a fish closely you will see that a row of scales with small indentions running along the middle of the body horizontally. This is the Lateral line, counting these scales carefully is the Lateral Line scale count.

Question: c. How to count fin rays of fishes?
Answer: Spread out the fins carefully and count the rays (keratinized structures that support the fin) at the base and never at the tip of the fin.
d. Distinguish between rays and spines?
Spines are like thorns, rays are like simple brushes.

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andew Rao.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:25 pm
by vijendra_s123
Andrewda a true inspiration for native fish keepers...... :thumup :thumup

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andew Rao.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:49 pm
by aamir
:goodpost :thumup :thumup :thumup :thumup love to meet him one day.

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andew Rao.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:06 pm
by jack
KUDOS !!!! excellent piece of info for Native lovers :goodpost

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andrew Rao.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:12 am
by parthapratim22
500tanks :o

Love the way he always guide Native fans.

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andrew Rao.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:00 am
by marsaiko
Great stuff team, real nice job to get such people out in public. :clp :clp
Or else we always kept wondering about sources.

Keep going :goodpost

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andrew Rao.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:10 pm
by Abhishek
Lovely Interview and Andrew Da rocks :)

Can some native shrimp images also be posted ;)

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andrew Rao.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:19 pm
by Romi
Andrew Rao is a true pioneer, the type we need to discover the endless wonders of nature our country is blessed with. we need to do it before we lose the species to habitat loss and other pressures, let loose by saturation-level corruption and ever-worse population explosion in India.

Kudos to Andrew Arunava Rao. La Martiniere, a famous and historical school where my maternal uncle stuided also, must now count him among its successful alumni!

Re: A talk to Native Indian Fish Expert Andrew Rao.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:05 pm
by Rohan
All i can say is that he is my native fish Guru :)

Thanks a lot Andrew Da for your immense contribution in native fish study,collection and research :)