India is blessed with a rich diversity of freshwater fishes both in the Western Ghats and North Eastern Hills. The Western Ghats of India is one of the 34 biodiversity ‘hotspot’ areas of the world. The rate of endemism is well reflected in the case of lower vertebrates especially with regard to fishes. Of the 300 species of freshwater fishes in the Western Ghats, 155 are considered ornamental fishes, of which 117 are endemic to the Western Ghats. At present, only a small fraction of the endemic fish diversity is utilized in ornamental fish trade.
All the ornamental fishes marketed in India are exotic. Even though there are quite a lot of indigenous fishes, having high potential as ornamental fishes, they have not been properly exploited. The fish fauna of the Western Ghats includes a variety of barbs, rasboras, killifishes, glassfishes, catfishes, catopra, hill trouts, and danios, which are ideal candidates for the ornamental fish industry. They are exceptionally beautiful with a wide variety of bands, blotches, spots, and colourful fins on their body. In spite of the fact that the Western Ghats of India is a gold mine of endemic freshwater fishes suitable for the ornamental fish trade, no concerted efforts have so far been undertaken for the development of a sustainable market for these resources. Lack of scientific information on this native aquatic fauna is the main reason for the poor performance of this sector.
In view of the tremendous significance of these indigenous ornamental fishes in the international ornamental fish market, a database on these valuable biodiversity is very essential. Aquarium hobbyists have no reliable source of information on this rich resource, as there is no publication on this subject in India. This book is aimed at helping ornamental fish hobbyists, breeders, farmers, traders, exporters, students and researchers to get an insight into the various indigenous ornamental fishes in India, their aquarium requirements, food and feeding habits under captivity and their behaviour in aquarium conditions.