Hilsa Fish: Ilish Fish Characteristics, Uses

The Hilsa fish is a species of fish in the herring family which is very popular as food fish in South Asia.

It is also known by many other different names such as Ilish, Hilsa herring, Hilsa Shad, Ellis, Modar, Palva, Pallo Machhi, Sboor, Terubuk etc. It is a very important species of fish in Bangladesh.

And it contributes about 12 percent of the total fish production, and about 1 percent of GDP in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, about 450,000 people are directly involved with the catching for livelihood.

And many people are indirectly involved with the trade. It is also the national fish of Bangladesh.

Currently the Hilsa fish is widespread, and is listed as Least Concern. But there have been serious declines in some major populations due to overfishing by commercial fisheries.

Hilsa Fish Full Information

The fish is relatively widespread in the Indian Ocean, where the fish is common and abundant is some areas.

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Read some more information about this fish species below.

Characteristics

The Hilsa fish has fusiform body, which is deep and laterally compressed. It has no dorsal spines, but has 18-21 dorsal soft rays and anal soft rays.

The belly has 30-33 scutes. Body of these fish is generally covered with big sized scales. And their body is generally of bright silver color, with slightly green backside.

They have straight or slightly curved gill rakers, and have no teeth on the jaws.

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The mature Hilsa fish can reach up to 60 cm body length. The males are generally smaller than the females. And these fish can grow up to 3 kg live body weight. Photo and info from Wikipedia.

Diet

The Hilsa fish are filter feeders. They generally filter feeds by grubbing muddy bottoms. They generally eat different types of plankton.

Their diet commonly include small plant, diatoms, rotifera, microcystis, oscillatoria, spirogyra, protozoa, alga etc.

Breeding

The Hilsa fish generally reach maturity within their 1-2 years of age. They breed mainly in rivers, upstream to about 50 km or even over 1000 km as in the Ganges.

But the younger fish may breed in the tidal zone of rivers. The main breeding season of this fish is during the southwest monsoon from May to August.

With a shorter season from January to February or March. Depending on the size of the females, they can lay up to 2 million eggs per spawning.

Uses

The Hilsa fish is mainly used for food. It is highly valued in Bangladesh, India and some other South Asian countries.

Special Notes

The Hilsa fish is a very important species of fish. It is commercially very important is some south Asian countries.

It is highly valued in Bangladesh and India (especially in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu).

It is a very popular fish amongst the people of South Asia and Middle East, but especially with Bengalis and Odias. It is highly popular mainly because of it’s flavor and taste. The fish is also exported globally.

The Hilsa fish is actually an oily fish, and is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. It is generally marketed fresh, frozen, smoked and salted.

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A dish named ‘sorse illish‘, prepared with mustard seed paste is very popular amongst the Bengalis.

It is said that people can cook the Hilsa fish in more than 50 ways. However, review full breed profile of the Hilsa fish in the table below.

NameHilsa
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassActinopterygii
OrderClupeiformes
FamilyClupeidae
GenusTenualosa
SpeciesT. ilisha
Binomial NameTenualosa ilisha
Other NamesAlso known as Ilish, Hilsa herring, Hilsa Shad, Ellis, Modar, Palva, Pallo Machhi, Sboor, Terubuk etc
Breed PurposeMainly food
WeightCan reach up to 3 kg
Special NotesEconomically very important fish species of Bangladesh, India and some other south Asian countries, highly valued in India, Bangladesh and also in international market, especially very popular amongst the Bengalis, highly valued for it’s flavor and taste, exported globally, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, marketed fresh, frozen, smoked and salted
Breeding MethodNatural
Climate ToleranceNative climates
Body ColorBright silver
RarityCommon
AvailabilityAsia

Frequently Asked Questions

People ask many questions about Hilsa fish. Here we are trying to list the most common questions about this fish species, and trying to answer them. Hope you will find your answer. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.

Why is Hilsa is called king of fish?

Hilsa is called king of fish in the areas where it is found, especially in Bangladesh. It is considered as one of the most tastiest fish due to it’s distinctly soft oily texture, mouthwatering flavor and superb mouthfeel.

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Why is Hilsa fish so expensive?

Hilsa is so expensive mainly because of it’s high demand and less availability.

Is salmon and Hilsa same?

No, both are different fish species. Hilsa is a very popular and special fish to Indians and Bangladeshi people. And Salmon is very popular in the United States.

Which country eat Hilsa fish?

Bangladesh is the largest consumer of Hilsa fish, with around 86 percent of the total worldwide consumption.

Which fish taste like Hilsa fish?

The milk fish tastes very similar to the Hilsa fish.

Why do Bengalis love Hilsa?

Because, it is considered as one of the most tastiest fish due to it’s distinctly soft oily texture, mouthwatering flavor and superb mouthfeel.

Who is the queen of fish?

Hilsa is called the queen of fish in Bangladesh, and in West Bengal state of India.

Does Hilsa fish have mercury?

Yes, they have, but in very low quantity.

Does Hilsa have bones?

Yes! Actually they have too many small bones. It has around 46-48 vertebrae, and roughly 1,500 smaller bones.

Is Hilsa fish healthy?

Yes, sure! Hilsa is a very nutritious fish and good for health. It is a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA.

Can a kidney patient eat Hilsa fish?

No, the kidney patients should not eat Hilsa.

How do you eat Hilsa?

Hilsa fish can be eaten in many ways. The most common and most popular dish is ‘shorshe ilish‘ in Bangladesh.

What are the side effects of Hilsa fish?

Eating Hilsa fish is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to the possibility of seaborne contaminants, such as dioxins, mercury, or other heavy metals. Eating Hilsa can also cause allergic reactions to this fish although they are not so common.

What does Hilsa taste like?

Hilsa is known for it’s grate taste and sweetish flavor.

What is Hilsa fish called in Malayalam?

The Hilsa is called “Paluva” in Malayalam.

What is Hilsa called in Tamil?

The Hilsa is called “Ullam, Oolum, Vengannai, Seva” in Tamil.

Is Hilsa fish good for high blood pressure?

Yes, Hilsa is totally safe for the high blood pressure patients. Actually, consuming Hilsa may help to reduce risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol.

Is Hilsa fish good for diabetes?

Yes, but the patients should consume only a moderate amount.

Which Hilsa is best?

The Hilsa fish from Padma river is best and most tasty.

Can you debone Hilsa?

Deboning a Hilsa is one of the most challenging tasks because in all other fish, there is only one central bone and other side bones.

Does hilsa fish have bad cholesterol?

Hilsa is fatty and contains cholesterol, but it may reduce bad blood cholesterol level in hypercholesterolemic subjects.

Does Hilsa fish increase uric acid?

Yes, and high intake of this food increases uric acids.

Is Hilsa a saltwater fish?

Yes, Hilsa is actually a saltwater fish, which is naturally found in the Bay of Bengal.

Is Hilsa fish good for psoriasis?

Yes, eating this fish regularly protects the skin from eczema and psoriasis.

What does Hilsa fish eat?

Hilsa fish is mainly feed on phytoplankton, with a small quantity of zooplankton.

Is Hilsa and Pulasa same?

Yes, both are same. Pulasa is the local name of Hilsa.

What is Poddar Ilish?

Poddar Ilish is the Hilsa fish found and caught from the Padma river.

Is Hilsa from the carp fish?

No, Hilsa is not like the carp fish. They are grown and found in the natural sources.

What is the national fish of Bangladesh?

Hilsa is the national fish of Bangladesh.

Why is Hilsa fish costly?

Hilsa is very costly mainly because of it’s high demand as compared to total production.

What is Hilsa fish called in English?

Hilsa is called Hilsa Herring or Hilsa Shad in English.

Is hilsa sea or river fish?

Actually, Hilsa has a wide range of distribution and occurs in marine, estuarine and riverine environments.

What type of fish is Hilsa?

Hilsa is a kind of Indian herring.

What is the importance of Hilsa fish?

Hilsa is the ‘national fish’ of Bangladesh. It is the fish of choice for most people and is of both religious and cultural importance.

What are the main characteristics of Hilsa fish?

The Hilsa fish has fusiform body, which is deep and laterally compressed. It has no dorsal spines, but has 18-21 dorsal soft rays and anal soft rays. The belly has 30-33 scutes. Body of these fish is generally covered with big sized scales. And their body is generally of bright silver color, with slightly green backside. They have straight or slightly curved gill rakers, and have no teeth on the jaws. The mature Hilsa fish can reach up to 60 cm body length. The males are generally smaller than the females. And these fish can grow up to 3 kg live body weight.

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