See text for species.
Mahseer is the common name used for the genera Tor, Neolissochilus, and Naziritor in the family Cyprinidae (carps). The name mahseer is however more often restricted to members of the genus Tor. The range of these fish is from Malaysia, Indonesia, across southern Asia including the Indian Peninsula and Pakistan. They are commercially important game fish, as well as highly esteemed food fish. Mahseer fetch high market price, and are potential candidate species for aquaculture. Several of the larger species have suffered severe declines, and are now considered threatened due to pollution, habitat loss and overfishing.
The taxonomy of the mahseers is confusing due to the morphological variations they exhibit. In developing strategies for aquaculture and propagation assisted rehabilitation of mahseer species, there is a need to resolve taxonomic ambiguities.
Mahseers inhabit both rivers and lakes, ascending to rapid streams with rocky bottoms for breeding. Like other types of carps, they are omnivorous, eating not only algae, crustaceans, insects, frogs, and other fish, but also fruits that fall from trees overhead.
The first species from this group were scientifically described by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in 1822, and first mentioned as an angling challenge by the Oriental Sporting Magazine in 1833, soon becoming a favorite quarry of British anglers living in India. The golden mahseer is the largest member of the group and one of the largest cyprinids; it has been known to reach 2.75 m (9 ft 0 in) in length and 54 kg (119 lb) in weight, although specimens of this size are rarely seen nowadays. In addition to being caught for sport, mahseer are also part of commercial fishing and ornamental or aquarium fish.
The Hindi name of mahāsir, mahāser, or mahāsaulā is used for a number of fishes of the group. Several sources of the common name mahseer have been suggested: It has been said to be derived from Sanskrit, while others claim it is derived from Indo-Persian, mahi- fish and sher- tiger or tiger among fish in Persian. Alternatively, mahā-śalka, meaning large-scaled, as the scales are so large that Francis Buchanan mentions that playing cards were made from them at Dacca. Another theory by Henry Sullivan Thomas suggests mahā-āsya: great mouth. The name mahasher is commonly used in Urdu, Punjabi and Kashmiri languages in Pakistan for this fish and is said to be made up of two local words: maha = big and sher = lion as it ascends in the hilly rivers and streams of Himalaya courageously. It is also found in Nepal, where it is called sahar. (British anglers in India called them the Indian salmon.)
Sen and Jayaram restrict the term mahseer to members of the genus Tor. However, the few species of genus Neolissochilus and single species of genus Naziritor are also called as mahseer due to their big size scales and some similarities.
The genus Tor includes:
- Tor ater, Roberts, 1999
- Tor barakae, Arunkumar & Basudha, 2003, Barakae mahseer
- Tor douronensis, Valenciennes, 1842, khela mahseer or river carp
- Tor hemispinus, Chen & Chu, 1985
- Tor kulkarnii, Menon, 1992, Dwarf mahseer uncertain only one specimen found till now.
- Tor khudree, Sykes, 1839, Black mahseer, Deccan mahseer
- Tor laterivittatus, Zhou & Cui, 1996
- Tor macrolepis, Heckel, 1838, uncertain species
- Tor malabaricus, Jerdon, 1849, Malabar mahseer
- Tor polylepis, Zhou & Cui, 1996
- Tor progeneius, McClelland, 1839, Jungha mahseer
- Tor putitora, Hamilton, 1822, Himalayan mahseer or Golden mahseer
- Tor qiaojiensis, Wu, 1977
- Tor remadevii, Madhusoodana Kurup & Radhakrishnan, 2011
- Tor sinensis, Wu, 1977, Chinese mahseer
- Tor soro, Valenciennes, 1842
- Tor tambra, Valenciennes, 1842
- Tor tambroides, Bleeker, 1854, Malayan mahsheer
- Tor tor, Hamilton, 1822, Red-finned mahseer, Short-gilled mahseer or Deep-bodied mahseer
- Tor yingjiangensis, Chen & Yang, 2004
- Tor yunnanensis, (Wang, Zhuang & Gao, 1982)
The genus Neolissochilus includes:
- Neolissochilus baoshanensis, (Chen & Yang, 1999)
- Neolissochilus benasi, (Pellegrin & Chevey, 1936)
- Neolissochilus blythii, (Day, 1870)
- Neolissochilus compressus, (Day, 1870)
- Neolissochilus dukai, (Day, 1878)
- Neolissochilus hendersoni, (Herre, 1940)
- Neolissochilus heterostomus, (Chen & Yang, 1999)
- Neolissochilus hexagonolepsis, (McClelland, 1839), Chocolate mahseer
- Neolissochilus hexastichus, (McClelland, 1839), Brown mahseer
- Neolissochilus longipinnis, (Weber & de Beaufort, 1916)
- Neolissochilus namlenensis, (Nguyen & Doan, 1969)
- Neolissochilus nigrovittatus, (Boulenger, 1893)
- Neolissochilus paucisquamatus, (Smith, 1945)
- Neolissochilus soroides, (Duncker, 1904)
- Neolissochilus spinulosus, (McClelland, 1845)
- Neolissochilus stevensonii, (Day, 1870)
- Neolissochilus stracheyi, (Day, 1871)
- Neolissochilus subterraneus, Vidthayanon & Kottelat, 2003
- Neolissochilus sumatranus, (Weber & de Beaufort, 1916)
- Neolissochilus theinemanni, (Ahl, 1933)
- Neolissochilus tweediei, (Herre & Myers, 1937)
- Neolissochilus vittatus, (Smith, 1945)
The genus Naziritor includes:
Represents the National fish of Pakistan (unofficial).
Current problems in Himachal Pradesh
In Himachal Pradesh, golden mahseer is depleting at a fast rate from the state even though it was categorised as an endangered species by the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources(NBFGR)as early as in 1992.
The factors leading to this situation are mainly: 1. Distortion of rivers due to the construction of river valley projects, 2. Multipurpose dams, 3. Shrinking habitat, 4. Poaching, and 5. Exploitation.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). Species of Tor in FishBase. April 2008 version.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). Species of Neolissochilus in FishBase. April 2008 version.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). Species of Naziritor in FishBase. April 2008 version.
- Sen TK, Jayaram KC, 1982. The Mahseer Fish of India – a Review. Rec. Zoological Survey of India. Misc. Publ. Occasional Paper 39, 38p.
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- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Tor in FishBase. November 2012 version.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Neolissochilus in FishBase. November 2012 version.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Naziritor in FishBase. November 2012 version.
- Nautiyal, Prakash, ed. 1994. Mahseer: The Game Fish. Natural History, Status and Conservation Practices in India and Nepal. Rachna.
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- Rainboth, W. J. 1985. Neolissochilus, a new group of South Asia Cyprinid fishes. Beaufortia. 35(3): 25–35.
- Mirza, M. R., and Javed, M. N. 1985. A note on Mahseer of Pakistan with the description of Naziritor, a new subgenus (Pisces: Cyprinidae). Pakistan Journal of Zoology. 17: 225–227.
- Arunkumar; & Ch. Basudha. 2003. Tor barakae, a new species of mahseer fish (Cyprinidae: Cyprininae) from Manipur, India. Aquacult. 4(2): 271–276.
- Ambak,M.A., Ashraf,A.H. and Budin,S. 2007. Conservation of the Malaysian Mahseer in Nenggiri Basin through Community Action. In: Mahseer, The Biology, Culture and Conservation. Malaysian Fisheries Society Occasional Publication No.14, Kuala Lumpur 2007:217–228
- National Agricultural Technology Project, 2004. Germplasm inventory, evaluation and gene banking of freshwater fishes. World Bank funded Project MM, No: 27/28/98/NATP/MM-III, 18-32p. National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Lucknow India.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Mahaseer.|