The Deccan Mahseer or Black Mahseer (Tor khudree) is a large freshwater game fish of the Carp family found in fast flowing rivers of India. The local name is Mahseer or Maha seer and this was considered as one of the greatest of game fish in India. Found throughout India, but found of the largest size and in the greatest abundance in mountain-streams or those which are rocky.
The fish moves to upper reaches of small streams to spawn. They feed on plants, insects, shrimps and mollusks and may be grown in ponds. While large fish of over a metre and 45 kg in weight have been recorded in the past, such sizes are no longer found.
Length of the head is 4 to 5 inches and the widest point of the body is at 4.3 to 5.5 inches from the snout. The eyes are at 6.25 to 7.5 inches behind the snout in moderate sized specimens but as much as 3.5 inches smaller specimens. The lips are thick, with an uninterrupted fold across the lower jaw, and with both the upper and lower lips in some specimens produced in the mesial line. The maxillary pair of barbels are longer than the rostral, and extending to below the last third of the eye. Fins the dorsal arises opposite the ventral, and is three fourths as high as the body; its last undivided ray is smooth, osseous, strong, and of varying length and thickness. Himalayan, Bengal, and Central Indian specimens generally have the spine strong, and from one half to two thirds the length of the head, it rarely exceeds this extent. In Canara, Malabar, and Southern India, where the lips are largely developed, the spine is very much stronger and as long as the head excluding the snout. Pectoral as long as the head excluding the snout ; it reaches the ventral, which is little shorter. Anal laid flat does not reach the base of the caudal, which is deeply forked. Lateral line complete, 2 to 2.5 rows of scales between it and the base of the ventral fin ; 9 rows before the dorsal. Colour silvery or greenish along the upper half of the body, becoming silvery shot with gold on the sides and beneath. Lower fins reddish yellow.
As to my big fish I put it down at 150 lbs., the other 50 have been added in the telling. I had no means of weighing it but I found it was as much as I could lift a couple of inches from the ground by hugging it in my arms ; no one but a big Mussulman peon in camp could do as much as this. I imagine that a man of 11 stone should have no difficulty in lifting a man of his own weight off the ground if lying on his back ; I have since lifted a man of over 10 stone with greater ease than the fish. A native overseer with me, who was formerly in the Ashtagram Sugar Works, put it down at 5 maunds (or 140 Lbs. Mysore) ; he said they were accustomed to deal with 5 maund bags, and he knew the feel of them pretty well. The measurements of the fish were : length, including tail, 60 inches; greatest girth 38 inches; inside lips when open, circumference 24 inches. The skin and head are in the Bangalore Museum." Of course my rough estimate of the fish's weight is valueless as fact, but you may believe that I was not out many pounds. It was an astonishingly thick and heavy fish for its short length. I have caught them 5 ft. 6 in., but not much more than 80 lbs. It had a shoulder like a bullock, steeply hanging over. I have caught about fifty of them, but my next largest was about 90 lbs. I have no doubt in my own mind that they run over 200 or 250 lbs., as I have seen teeth and bones of them far larger than my 150-pounder ; they are often caught by the natives.
- Day, F. (1889) Fauna of British India. Fish. Volume 1.
- FishBase entry for Tor khudree Deccan mahseer
- Thomas, H. S. 1897. The Rod in India. W. Thacker and Co.