month we are entering new territory with the first
factsheet on a relatively new family (Wang et al 2016),
Ailiidae, with the monotypic species, Ailia coila.
Ailiidae is a
family of catfishes native to Asia. They usually have
dorsal fins with a short base and a spine, but Ailia
lack a dorsal fin altogether. Most
of these species in the Ailiidae family were formally
in the Schilbeidae family but were reclassified and
moved by Wang et al in 2016. As of 2019 there are
13 genera in this family.
was originally described as Malapterurus coila
by Hamilton (1822) from freshwater rivers of West
Bengal. Gray's (1830) illustrations of Acanthonotus
hardwickii, Silurus (Acanthonotus) cuvieri
and Malapterus (Ailia) bengalensis and Günther's
(1864) description of Ailia affinisre are
all currently synonymized to Ailia coila
Ailia coila is a widespread species that
has undergone significant decline in its population
due to overexploitation as a food fish in parts, if
not throughout its entire range. However, potential
problems in taxonomy and problems in extrapolating
data from localised studies for the entire subcontinent
(to fully assess population decline) make it impossible
to accurately assess this species. Due to limited
evidence available that suggest significant declines
in population as a result of overfishing, the species
is assessed as Near Threatened (a possible decline
of close to 30% over its entire range over a ten year
period) with urgent need to study the threats, harvest
levels and population changes in this species. (Red
List of Threatened Species 2010)
Pakistan: Indus Plain: India:
confined to the Jamuna, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra
and the Mahanada rivers; Nepal; Bangladesh,
the major rivers.
Ailia coila lives
in shoals in mayor freshwater
rivers and connected waters. Itis heavily
utilized as a food fish (Talwar and Jhingran 1991,
Patra et al. 2005, Mishra et al. 2009). Heavy harvesting
of the fish could be a threat to its population (Patra
et al. 2005, Mishra et al. 2009).
rounded. Four pairs of barbels. Rayed dorsal fin is
absent with a short almost insignificant adipose fin.
Pectoral fin with a slender spine serrated along inner
edge. Pelvic fin small with 6 rays. The anal fin is
very long and the caudal fin is deeply forked with
the lower lobe longer. Lateral
line is complete and simple.
Silvery, some of the fins tipped
grey. Caudal fin often edged with a black tinge.
Anal and caudal bases are slightly yellowish. Occiput
often with black spots.
Nothing is documented in keeping
A. coila in aquariums, but I would hazard
a guess that it would be problamatic due to its predatory
It breeds in the shallow waters
of the largest rivers with distinct pairing. It breeds
during the monsoon season, from July to September.
Fecundity ranges from 600-1300 eggs, and the pelagic
eggs float in clusters.
It is carnivore but occasionaly
feeds on algae, plant materials and debris.
Having only one species, such as a monotypic family
of fishes. Caudal fin:
Caudal peduncle: The narrow part of a fish's
body to which the caudal or tail fin is attached.
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top
of the body. Pectoral fins: The paired fins just
behind the head. Anal fin:The median, unpaired, ventrally located fin
that lies behind the anus, usually on the posterior
half of the fish. Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection
without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin. Lateral line: A sensory line, along
the sides of the body. Pelagic: Pertaining to the open water
Greek, aiolias, -ou = a fish (Scaridae)
P.K. and A.G. Jhingran,
1991. Inland fishes of India and adjacent countries.
Volume 2. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors.
2019.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.
www.fishbase.org, ( 02/2019 ) Ng, H.H. & Dahanukar, N. 2011.
Ailia coila. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
2011 Jayaram. K.C. 2006, Catfishes of
India. Narendera Publishing House. 383p. Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh.
Vol.23. Freshwater Fishes. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
300p. www.mapsofindia.com: 2015.