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Investigation on Ichthyofaunal Assortment and Water Quality Parameters in the Ranganadi River of North-East India

Seuj Dohutia1,2,*, Jai Dayal Mali3, Pavitra Chutia1, S.P. Biswas2
1P.G. Department of Life Sciences, Debraj Roy College, Golaghat-785 621, Assam, India.
2Department of Life Sciences, Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh-786 004, Assam, India.
3epartment of Zoology, Sadiya College, Sadiya-786 157, Assam, India.
Background: The north-eastern region of India well known its innumerable natural resources. Flanked by two of the biodiversity hotspots of Indian subcontinent, North-East India has rich biological diversity of flora and fauna in its every corner. The present study has undertaken to assess the ichthyofaunal resources and physico-chemical parameters of Ranganadi river which will contribute to the scientific knowledge domain and aid in the planning of much needed conservation strategies.

Methods: The ichthyofauna and water quality parameters has been studied from February 2021 to January 2022 on a monthly basis in the three different terrains of Ranganadi river.

Result: The study revealed 76 fish species belonging to 9 different orders and 26 families. The major share contributed by the order cypriniformes (47.36%) followed by siluriformes (23.68%), Perciformes (13.15%), Synbranchiformes (5.26%), Anabantiformes (3.94%), Clupeiformes (2.63%), Tetradontiformes (1.31%), Anguilliformes (1.31%) and Beloniformes (1.31%) constitutes total ichthyofaunal composition of Ranganadi river recorded in the survey. During the survey, occurrence of fishes from Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT) category also documented in the river basin. The water quality parameters were found to be in the suitable ranges in contrast to parameters of healthy aquatic bodies.
India is blessed with nearly 2,118 fish species (8.60%) out of the 24,618 species of the world and a database on these fishes made at National bureau of fish genetic resources (Shahnawaz et al., 2010). In regard of North-East India, one of the most recent comprehensive study states that it harbours 422 species of fish from 133 genera (Goswami et al., 2012). Likewise, the ichthyofauna of north eastern region India has influence of Indo-Gangetic floodplains and to some amount Burmese and South Chinese region (Kalita and Sarma, 2015). The Ranganadi River of north-east India is one of the tributaries of river Subansiri which is one of the main tributaries of the mighty river Brahmaputra. Ranganadi River (27°11ʹ11ʺN, 094°03ʹ54ʺE) originates from Himalayan foothills of Arunachal Pradesh at an altitude of 3,400 m, flows through the Lesser Himalaya, Outer Himalaya and ultimately joins river Subansiri (Mali and Chutia, 2019). Also, a hydroelectric dam of 405 MW ( is already operational in the basin of Ranganadi river which partaking undesirable in regard of aqua-faunas (Kaushik and Bordoloi, 2016). Dams apparently seems to alter the of natural flow of a river and disrupt the exchange of water and sediments within the river and with its riparian spaces (Poff et al., 1997). The downstream impacts of dams do not stay limited to the river hydrology and morphology alone, but also outspread towards the socio-economic conditions of the riparian communities of the affected area (Cernea, 2004). Aquatic ecosystems greatly rely on the water quality parameters and biological diversity (Zhang et al., 2019). The fish faunas are critically reliant on by the physico-chemical parameters of water, more over ichthyofaunal diversity is also vital indicator of aquatic ecosystem’s health and management (Gogoi et al., 2015). The current study has been taken up in to assess the current ichthyofaunal resources in accordance with the analysis of the water quality parameters.
Study site
Three different zones of Ranganadi river has been selected for study and analysis of ichthyofaunal inventorization, physico-chemical parameters of water, viz
I) Kimin (27°19'37"N, 94°58'55"E)
II) Pahumora (27°12'42"N, 94°03'10"E)
III) Pokoniaghat (27°01'46"N, 94°06'12"E)

Research period
The on-site field study was conducted from February 2021 to January 2022, the year based on seasonal changes. The figures are embedded into three different seasons of the year, namely pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon. Data collection were carried out from 6:00 AM- 9:00 AM in three sites of the Ranganadi river basin.
Physico-chemical parameters of water
The water quality parameters were analysed following APHA (2005).
Preservation and identification of specimens
The fish specimens were captured with the help of local fish folks and further preserved in 10% formaldehyde solution for identification to genus and species level following Talwar and Jhingran (1991).
Off-site research and analysis
The off-site research and analysis was mainly carried out at the PG Department of Life Sciences of Debraj Roy College aided by Department of Life Sciences, Dibrugarh University.
The water quality parameters are depicted in Table 1 and the data regarding the fish composition of the Ranganadi river presented in the Table 2, Fig 1 and 2. The survey revealed occurrence of 76 species of fish belonging to 9 orders, 26 family and 54 genera. On the basis of species composition, the Cypriniformes order were dominant having 36 species followed by siluriformes with 18 species, followed by Perciformes, Synbranchiformes, Anabantiformes and Clupeiformes respectively 10,4,3 and 2 numbers of species. Only 1 species from the order Anguilliformes, Beloniformes and Tetraodontiformes were recorded during the study period.

@table 1

Table 2: Records of various fish species noted during the field visit.

The water quality parameters and bionetwork of a particular water body have vital role in the growth and development of fish and ichthyofaunal diversities (Akhter et al., 2021). Such a way, temperature is viewed as one of the most important factors which effects the fish composition of that area. The water temperature recorded during the survey ranged from 15.2-26.5 (°C) which is suitable for the sustainability of the fishes recorded in the eastern Himalayan region (Sehgal, 1999).

Fig 2.1: Pie-chart 1 (Composition of recorded fish species in terms of order).

Fig 2: Pie-chart 2 (Fish composition of recorded species in terms of family).

Another important parameter of water is transparency which helps to assess the quality, transparency is directly related to dissolved oxygen content, sunlight penetration and plankton and macrophyte growth (Boyd and Lichtkoppler, 1979). During the study period, a range 16.7-34.6 cm transparency has been recorded which is give the impression to be adequate for fish health (Bhatnagar and Devi, 2013). However, seasonal variation of transparency is very much distinct in the river basin.

The water level of Ranganadi river found to be in the range of 36-175.8cm throughout the year from hilly stream of Kimin (Arunachal Pradesh) till the confluence (Assam) with the Subansiri river at the downstream. This diverse range of water level implies presence of hill stream species like Glyptothorax telchitta, Batasio batasio, Erethistes pusillus to big catfishes such as Wallago attu, Sperata seenghala and Indian Major Carps. The records of current flow of riverine water varies seasonally, with the advent of monsoon and monsoon period current flow increases drastically in the study sites. Although, the water current rate is provoked from the reservoir of the Ranganadi dam built on the upstream of the river. However, environmental flow is prominent in the all the study sites.

pH ranged in the study sites from 7.07 to 7.45, which indicates a healthy hydrogen ion concentration in the water bodies. According to Michael (1969), survival and growth of the fish species is best in the range of 7.3-8.4 which indicates it is in safe array.

Concentration of dissolved oxygen (D.O.) is one of the most important parameters of water which indicates the physical and biological processes prevailing in water. Comparatively higher range of D.O. was recorded during the monsoon season due to assimilation of water by heavy wind action and mixing of monsoon rains. During the investigation, the D.O. was found to be in the range of 6.21-8.91 mg/L. Higher content of dissolved oxygen level may be attributed to the hilly fast-flowing region of the Ranganadi river (Hamid et al., 2020).

According to Swann (1997), that fish can endure concentrations of 10ppm of free Carbon Dioxide on a condition that, D.O. concentrations are high and water supporting good fish populations usually contain less than 5 ppm of free CO2.  Bhatnagar et al., (2004), suggested 5-8 ppm is vital for photosynthetic activity; 12-15 ppm is sublethal to fishes and 50-60 ppm is fatal to fishes. Therefore, it is evident that free carbon dioxide in water supporting good fish population should be less than 5 mg/L. During the investigation, the range of Free Carbon dioxide from 4.1-4.7 mg/L from which it signifies that it is apposite for the ichthyofaunal species.

The hardness of water is principally dependent upon by the content of calcium and magnesium salts, combined with bicarbonates and carbonates with sulphates, chlorides and other anions of minerals (Devi et al., 2017). Hardness range of 35-80 mg/L said to be beneficial for fishes (Jhingran, 1988). The hardness level in the Ranganadi river basin during the study period was 50.25-81.44 mg/L.
Total dissolved solids (TDS)
The solids present in the water in the dissolved state which consists of inorganic salts and dissolved materials. TDS content below 400 mg/L is regarded as appropriate quality for better growth and survival for the aqua faunas (Munni et al., 2013). The TDS content ranged 24.4-47.9 mg/L during the survey.
Total Suspended Solids (TSS)
Indicator of the measure of wear and tear that took place in the upstreams. The TSS parameter ranged from 100.1-252.4mg/L during the yearlong survey. With the advent of pre-monsoon and monsoon season rise in TSS trends is very distinct which can be positively co-related with the increase precipitation, high sediment load, deterioration and mixing of rainwater (Bailung and Biswas, 2021).

Various previous studies on ichthyofaunal diversity and physico-chemical properties of water have been conducted in and around upper Brahmaputra basin and its tributaries, Bakalial et al., (2014), conducted studies on the nearby Subansiri river, which recorded 204 species from 34 families 101 genera. Also, investigation conducted by Boruah and Biswas (2002), lead to listing of 167 fish species from the upper Brahmaputra basin of north-east India. Considering the facts in regard of nearby waterbodies of Brahmaputra River, the fish composition of Ranganadi river is seems to be affected because of some anthropogenic factors like Hydel project, rampant fishing in an unsustainable matter which involves electrode fishing, lethal lime fishing etc. Similar effects on fish community because of man-made factors can be seen in the recent reports of Limbu et al., (2021) and Shao et al., (2019) conducted respectively Nepal and China.  
The investigation was carried out the throughout the year, findings are recorded and presented in the seasonal basis. The three selected sites from different terrains were studied in a profound manner to fulfil the necessary objectives comprehensively. From present study it appears that Ranganadi river has sensible ichthyofaunal diversity with suitable condition for fish growth and development. However, constant threats will be always lurking to the riverine health because of the various anthological activities like sand and gravel mining, overfishing etc. Again, the Ranganadi dam at the upstream of the river always have the potential of wreaking havoc at the downstream of the river which extents will be felt in the downstream communities irrespective of man or aquatic lives. Specifically designed conservation strategy is very much need of the hour to protect the anthropological society and aqua species. However, it seems till today no such initiative has been taken by the stakeholders.
The authors are thankful to the “G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development” for the needful funding for the completion of the study. The authors will remain grateful to the Principal of Debraj Roy College for providing the much-needed facilities. Authors are also appreciative to Dr. Nipen Nayak and Mr. Jyotirmoy Sonowal for their helping hand in the study period and manuscript preparation. The authors will be forever indebted to the local fish folks who rendered kind help and cooperation during the field visits.

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