L-6 Major River Systems of India Topographical features, Fish Faunastic Diversity & Fisheries BY:-COLEGE OF FISHERIES PANTNAGAR GBPUAT

Himalayan RS: Ganga, Brahmaputra & Indus

& Southern RS: PECRS & PWCRS

Indian River Systems {At a Glance}
River system of country·s comprises of14 major rivers (catchments>20,000km2) 44 medium rivers (catchments 2,000 to 20,000km2) Combined linear length of all rivers= 29,000km Total surface water runoff= 167.23 mhm Fish-faunastic diversity comprises of 930 species belonging to 326 genera accordingly India stands 9th in world for reference freshwater mega-fishdiversity 
The Ganga and the Brahmaputra river systems5Combined linear length= 16,523km (36.72% of total) 5Drainage basin area 1.0million km2 & 0.9million km2 respectively 5Total water discharge= 19,000m3 / second

Number of River systemsThe Northern / Himalayan river systems (Ganga, Brahmaputra & Indus) The Southern / Peninsular river systems (PECRS & PWCRS)

Topographical features of drainage & basin

The profile of various river system of India

Potential yield of Indian rivers based on their length & basin area

Ganga River System

At Haridwar

‡ Ganges (Ganga)- The Ganges at Haridwar ‡ Countries- India, Bangladesh ‡ Major cities- Haridwar, Moradabad, Rampur, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna ‡ Length- 2,510 km (1,560 mi) ‡ Watershed- 907,000 km² (350,195 mi²) ‡ Discharge at mouth - average14,270 m³/s (503,940 ft³/s) ‡ Source- Gangotri Glacier ‡ Location- Uttarakhand, India ‡ Coordinates- 30°59 N 78°55 E ‡ Elevation- 7,756 m (25,446 ft) ‡ Mouth- Ganges Delta ‡ Location- Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh ‡ Coordinates-22°05 N 90°50 E ‡ Elevation- 0 m (0 ft) ‡ Major tributaries- (Left): Brahmaputra, Gomti, Kosi, Gandak, Ghaghra (Riight): Yamuna, Son

The Ganga River System {Topography, Fish Fauna & Fisheries}
Topographical Featuresi. One of the largest RS of the world having combined linear length= 12,500km ii. Catchment area= 9.71 lakh km2 iii. It drains Southern slope of central Himalayas covering states of UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan & W. Bengal iv. Originates at MSL 3129m (Bhagirathi) from Gangotri and joins Alakhnanda at Deoprayag v. After covering 220km in mountains, enters n plain at Haridwar vi. Its tidal confluence/ deltic region is about 320km

vii. Its tributaries are5At left flank: Koshi, Gandak, Ramganga & Gomati 5At right flank: Yamuna with its tributaries (Chambal, Betwa & Ken), Tons and Sone

Pattern of Primary Producers & Consumers Production and Productivity5Plankton production in general shows µBimodal¶ pattern of production. 1st peak falls in June 2nd peak falls during December to March Minimum production during July to October 5Dominant group of Phytoplankton: Belonging to familiesBacillariophyceae, Chlorophyceae, & Myxophyceae. 5Dominant group of Zooplankton: Belonging category of Rotifers- Brachionus, Conochilus, Trochosphaera etc. 5In general, the Ganga is more productive above rather than the zone below its confluence with the Yamuna. 5Peak of benthic fauna production happens in June and minimum during August to September / January to February.

Ecological Zonation of the Ganga3-Zones: Sluggish, Aggressive & Recovery
i. Sluggish Zone (Kanpur-Allahabad-Varanasi): Slow current, bottom with muddy-mixed fine sand & conducive for insect production. Aggressive Zone (Balia-Patna): Water current very fast & unproductive for insect production.


iii. Recovery Zone (Bhagalpur-Rajmahal): Slow current, bottom with fine sand & black muddy patches, good for production of insects, gastropods, annelids«

Fish-faunastic Diversity & FisheriesThe Ganaga RS harbors 265 fish species belonging to 36 families, out of which 34 species are of commercial importance including prized Gangetic carps, large catfishes, featherbacks and murrels. The mainstay of fisheries are the species belonging to cyprinids (carps-176 species) & silurids (catfishes).
Species Distribution Pattern:
i. ii. In Head Water Stretch: Schizothorax, Acrossocheilus, Tor (putitora / tor), Labeo (dyocheilus / dero / gonius), Pangasius pangasius species etc. In Plain Stretch: 5Major Carps- Catla catla, Labeo rohita Cirrhinus mrigala 5Minor Carps- Labeo (calbasu / bata), Cirrhinus (reba / bacaila) 5Catfish: Wallogo attu, Mystus aor, Mystus seenghala, Mystus vittatus Pangasius pangasius, Bagarius bagarius, Clarias batrachus, Heteropneustes fossilis, Ompak (pabda / bimaculatus)« 5Clupeids: Hilsa ilisha & Hilsa filigera 5Miscellaneous: Notopterus species, Gudasia chapra, Setipinna phasa, Mastecembelus species« and freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium malcomsonii)

Relative distribution of Gangetic carps in different stretches of the Gangai. Cirrhinus mrigala: It is the most dominant species of the Ganga in its upper stretch from Kanpur down to Allahabad and also in the Yamuna. ii. Catla catla: It is moderately distributed in complete plain stretch of the Ganga having its moderate catch at all landing centres. iii. Labeo rohita: More like mrigal, abundant in upper and lower stretc and less impotant in middle stretch. Hilsa ilisha: Being true anadromous migratory fish, before development of Farakka in 1975, 476km away from the estuarine mouth of Ganga, its significant catch was on record upto Kanpur which is now ±Nil-.

Estimated mean annual landings (metric tons) at different centers of the Ganga: Commercial
fisheries exists in the middle stretch ranging from Kanpur to Farakka: 1,005km.

Group-wise fish yield at Allahabad landing centre of Ganga S. No. Fish Group Catch (kg / ha) 1961-70 Major carps Catfish 21.25 10.11 4.86 10.59 1981-90 9.95 5.07 -Nil13.58

i. ii.

iii. Hilsa ilisha iv. Miscl. fishes

Brahmaputra River System

The Brahmaputra River System {Topography, Fish Fauna & Fisheries}
Topographical Featuresi. Originates from a great glacier mass near Mansarower lake in Tibet at MSL 3600m, flowing eastward and thereafter westward passing through Arunachal Pradesh for 160km enters the valley of Assam above Sadiya. Last flowing for 480km in Bangladesh it joins Ganga at Goalando forming a common river Padma (Width= 9.6km) meets in Bay of Bengal through a Great Meghana estuary. Thus it drains the northern slope of central and eastern Himalayas. Combined linear length of RS= 4023km, Brahmaputra alone= 2900km. Catchment area= 51 million ha and water runoff= 38 mhm.
Topographically Brahmaputra valley is interspersed with abandoned beds of river which are subjected to annual inundation resulting development of wetlands considerably in the districts of Lakhimpur, Nowgong, North Kamrup and Goalpara.


iii. iv. v.


Pattern of Primary Producers & Consumers Production and Productivity5Through out its stretch rich in inorganic contents (Phosphates, Nitrates, Silicates & Iron). 5 Zooplanktons dominate in upper reach (Brachionus, Cyclops, Daphinia & copepods nauplii). 5Phytoplanktons dominate in lower reach (Spirogyra, Ulothrix & Oscillataria) 5In general, phytoplanktons dominate over zooplanktons





The Brahmaputra RS harbors 126 fish species belonging to 26 families, out of which 41 species are of commercial importance. Over all fish faunastic diversity similar to Ganga RS. Upper sector of the river is not having commercial fishery of any significance. This segment harbours coldwater fishes (T. mosal, T. tor, T. putitora, T. progenius, Neolissochelus hexagonolepis and catfish B. bagarius«). The commercial fishery is dominated by catfishes. Miscellaneous group of fishes also contribute significantly to total catch. S. No.

Major carps

Fish Catch Trends (%)
Minor carps Catfish Miscl. Hilsa Prawns

i. Upper iii. Lower

17.46 11.00


28.40 54.14 28.00 -



ii. Middle 16.00

18. 00 4-7

24.00 34.00 7.00

Common estuarine reaches of Ganga & Brahmaputrai. Deltic region confluence is 320km being common and constitutes a zone dynamic interaction between freshwater and tidal (marine) water thus maintaining high level of productivity. ii. The lateral expansion of the alluvial soil deposits and the break-up of the main channel into number of distributaries, and tidal creeks impart the terminal part of rivers having deltas with its sea-ward face fringed with coastal mangroves.

Potamic Reaches of both riversi. Present streams of high ecological order and are subjected to force of erosion (in upper reaches) and deposition in the lower reaches. ii. The channels in potamic zone of Ganga RS is meandering type whereas in Brahmaputra it is of braided type.

Indus River System

The Indus River System
Topographical Features-

The major portion of Indus river system lies within Pakistan but its 5 tributaries, viz. Jhelum, Chinab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej originate from the Western Himalayas.
Fish Fauna & Fisheriesi. In headwaters of these rivers, commercial fisheries are absent. ii. The common fish species inhabiting are Salmo trutta faria, Oncorhynchus mykiss, Tor tor; T. putitora, Schizothorax spp., Labeo dero, Gara gotyla, Botia spp. and Nemacheilus spp. iii. The Beas and Sutlej contain indigenous carps and catfishes akin to the Ganga River. iv. The Jhelum in Jammu and Kashmir is reported to support commercial fisheries. The species caught are Schizothorax spp., Labeo dero, L. dyocheilus, Crossocheilus latius, Puntius conchonius, Cyprinus carpio (C. carpio communis and C. carpio speclllaris), loaches and Glyptothorax spp.
Note5Beas and Satluj soecially harbor rainbow & brown trouts in upper reaches. 5The trout streams of Kashmir constitute one of the world¶s richest sport fishing waters attracting anglers and tourists from all over the world. 5Exotic C. carpio (communis & specularis) contribute significantly to comercial catch. 5Landing of snow trouts and Schizothorax sps ranges from 70-80%.

Peninsular East Coast River System
Mahanadi Godavari Krishna Cauvery

PECRS at a Glance
‡ Combined linear length= 6,437km with a total catchment area of 121 million ha ‡ It drains the entire peninsular India includingEast of Western Ghats in the West & Southern parts of central India ‡ Mahanadi has its own major carp species common with Gangetic carps ‡ Other rivers have carp species but not the Gangetic carps which have been transplnted ‡ Tributaries of Cauvery originating from Niligiri hillsharbour coldwater fish like trout & tench

Mahanadi River System 
The upper reaches harbor game fishes but commercial fishery is non-existent due to inaccessible terrain.  The ichthyofauna is similar to that of the Ganga river with addition of peninsular species.  Hilsa is confined to lower reaches and together with major carps and catfishes forms lucrative fishery.  Data on fish production and catch per unit effort (CPUE) is not available.  Serves as important source of natural spawn collection of hill-stream fish who harbor in it from its source of origin up to Hirakud reservoir in Sambhalpur district of Orissa.

Godavari River System
Topographical Features Godavari originates in Deolali hills near Nasik in the Northern Western Ghats having tidal limits below Rajahmundry in A.P. meeting in Bay Bengal.  Linear length= 1440km and catchment area= 315980Km2.  Having 2-large µWeirs¶: 1st at Dowlaiswaram for irrigation & navigation and 2nd at Dummagudem for navigation only.  In general wetlands (Jheels / Bheels/ Ox-bow lakes) do not exist in rivers of Deccan plateau and under this RS also.  Stretch of 189km between Dowlaiswaram to Dummagudem fetches commercial fishery being only of its plain zone.  This plain stretch has been divided into 3-zones for fisheries point of view I- Dowlaiswaram to Pattiseema (33.6km) II- Polavaram to Jidiguppa (59.2km) III- Kunavaram to Dummagudem (96.2km)

Fish FaunaCarps: Catla catla, C. Mrigala, L. fimbriatus (+) & L. calbasu Catfish: M. seenghal, M. aor, Silonia childreni, W. attu, P. pangasius & B. bagarius Hilsa ilisha Miscellaneous: Comprising less than 0.5% individually in total catch at any time Prawn: Macrobrachium malcolmsonii

FisheriesThe headwater harbours a variety of game fishes but do not support commercial fishery. It has been observed that during 1990 the river was maintaining a fish production of 1 tonne/km/annum. However, the commercial fisheries consist of carps (major carps and L.fimbriatus), large catfishes (Mystus spp., Wallago attu, Silonia childreni and B. bagarius) and freshwater prawn (M. malcolmosonii).

Relative Trend of Gears to be used in 3-Zones: Basically of 2-typesI. Gill-Nets {Set, drift, drag (Bendu vala) & barrier (Katu vala)}: Catch by these gears contributes to 33.9& of fishing efforts in all3-zones and accordingly constitutes 12.7% of total fish yield.Use of drag gill-nets are confined to zone-III. II. Seine-Nets {Shore (Jarugu vala), large (Alivi vala) & drag (Konte vala):
5In zone I & II large sheine-nets are used for the catch of carps and catfishes. 5 In zone II & III shore sheine-nets are used for the catch of miscellaneous group of fishes and also prawns.

Relative catch by using different gears
L. fimbriatus: Most abundant in all 3-zones. C. mrigala: It is a transplanted species and more abundant in zone I & II than III. C. catla: Ctach is of low magnitute in all 3-zones. M. seenghala: Most abundant among all catfish and equal catch from all 3-zones. Hilsa ilisha: Has moderate catch from all 3-zones. M. malcolmsonii: It is only prawn species present and has moderate catch from all 3-zones.

Krishna River System Topographical Features, Fish-Fisheries  

It originates from Western Ghats range in south of Poona and meeting in Bay of Bengal. Linear length= 1120km and catchment area= 233229Km2. Having 2-tributaries1. Bhima: Meeting on northern flank in Karnataka, being a seasonal river 2. Tungbhadra: Meeting on southern flank, being a perennial river having more water volume and flow than Krishna

Note: 1. Physico-chemical characteristics of Godavari & Krishna are similar as both have common origin from major terrain of Deccan Plateau and accordingly they have common fish faunastic diversity. 2. Several dams have been constructed on this river, which have altered the ecology of this river.

Cauvery River System
Topographical Features It is largest perennial river in south of the Krishna and originates from Brahmagiri hills on Western Ghats at MSL 1340m.  Meeting in Bay of Bengal flowing southeasternally in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.  Largest masonry dam is Mettur (T. Nadu).  In Thanjavur delta it has been divided into two distributaries1. Northern branch (Coleroon): Having lower Anicut 2. Southern branch (Cauvery proper): Having upper & Grand Anicuts

Fish FaunaCarps: Acrossocheilus hexagonolepis, T. putitora,T. khudree & T. mussullh, Barbus carnaticus, Barbus dubius, L. kontius & L. ariza, Ci. Cirrhosa, Osteochilus brevedorsalis & O. nashi« Catfish: M. seenghal, M. aor, S. silonia & S. childrenii, W. attu, P. pangasius & Glyptothorax madraspatanum« Murrel: Channa marulius Featherback: Notopterus notopterus Transplanted Species: Gangetic carps and exotics: C. carpio species & Osphronemus goramy

Fisheries Trend The water resource of the river is extensively exploited as numerous reservoirs, anicuts and barrages have been built on the river.  The game fishes like Tor khudree and T. mussullah are found all along length of the river except the deltaic stretch.  The commercial fisheries comprise carps (Tor spp., Barbus carnaticus, B. dubius, Neolissocheilus hexagonolepis, Puntius pulchellus, Labeo kontius) and catfishes Glyptothorax madraspatanum, Mystus spp., P. pangasius, W. attu, S. childreni and Silurus wynaadensis).

Peninsular WestCoast River System

{Narmada & Tapti}

PWCRS at a Glance
Combined linear length= 3,380km It drains the Narrow belt of Peninsular India (West of Western Ghats)

Narmada River System
Topographical Features5 It originates from Amarkantak hills in Bilaspur district of M.P. at MSL 1,057m from a pond and last flowing through Gujarat falls in Arabian Sea through µGulf of Cambay / Khambhat¶. 5 Total linear length of 1312km covering 3-states: 1o77km (M.P.), 75 (Maharasthra) & 160km (Gujarat) 5 Maximum of total catchment (94,235km2) area lying in jurisdiction of M.P & Gujarat. 5 As the river having massive drop during its long course of flowing, it has provided better opportunity for dam and barrage constructions. 5 Narmada has 41 principal tributaries of which longest one is TAWA. 5 Besides 50 rivulets also join it.


Narmada river harbours 84 fish species belopging to 23 genera of 23 species are of commercial importance. S. Category No. of Species Catch Trend (commercial No.

1 2

Carps Catfishes

10 (57-64%) 08 (24-38%)

Mahseer 23-27%, Labeo fimbriatus 1819%, L. calbasu 5-6%... Rita pavimentata 12-14%, M. seenghala, 8-10%, M. aor 4-5%, Wallago attu 78%, M. cavasius 1%... C. marulius (2%) & C. stiatus (1%) N. notopterus M. armatus & M. pancalus

3 4 5


02 (3-4%)

Featherbac 01 (1-2%) k Spiny Eels 02 (2-3%)

Tapti River System
Topographical Features5 It originates from Mount Vindhya of Satpura range at MSL 670-1000m. 5 Last flowing west ward through M.P., Maharasthra & Gujarat falls in Arabian Sea through µGulf of Cambay / Khambhat¶. 5 Catchment 48,000km2

Fish-FaunaIn general similar to Narmada river system. Harboring more number of Labeo species (fimbriatus, boggut, calbasu, bata«).

Fisheries Trend Seasonal fishing (Sept. ± June), extensive fishing after January-February.  The commercial fishery mainly consists of Tor tor, Labeo fimbriatus, L. boggut and L. calbasu among carps followed by catfishes such as Mystus spp. and W. attu.  Commonly used gears (cast-net, gill-net & long-lines) for catch of t.to, L. (fimbriatus, calbasu, bata, boggut), M. (seenghala & aor), W. attu«  In winter µCheer¶ fishing for the same species.  Significant catch composition: T. tor (21-60%) followed by M. seenghala (19-44%).  In its lower reaches Hilsa ilisha forms lucrative fishing in the vicinity of Surat and down stream.

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