Mrigal Fish Characteristics, Feeding, Breeding & Origin

The Mrigal fish is a species of ray-finned fish in the carp family. It is also called Cirrhinus mrigala, Cirrhinus cirrhosus, Morakhi, Moree, White carp and Mrigal carp fish.

It is native to streams and rivers of south Asia, especially India. The only surviving wild population of this fish is in the Cauvery River, leading to it’s IUCN rating as Vulnerable. It is widely aquacultured in many countries, and also introduced outside it’s native range.

Mrigal fish is one of the 3 Indian major carp fish species, cultivated widely in Southeast Asian countries. It has long been important in polyculture with other native fish species.

Especially farming with Rui and Catla fish is very popular. Although records of it’s culture are available only from the early part of the twentieth century.

Today, Mrigal fish has become an important component in the fish farming systems of India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Laos, Thailand and Nepal.

It has also been introduced into China, Mauritius, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. However, read some more information about this carp fish species below.

Mrigal Fish Physical Characteristics

The Mrigal fish can grow very big. Their body is bilaterally symmetrical and streamlined. The depth is about equal to length of head.

Their body is covered with cycloid scales, and there are no scales on their head and snout blunt. Their mouth is broad, transverse (the upper lip entire and not continuous with lower lip).

They have pharyngeal teeth in 3 rows 5.4.2/2.4.5 pattern; lower jaw with a small post-symphysial knob or tubercle.

Pectoral fins of the Mrigal fish are shorter than head, and the anal fin don’t extend to caudal fin. The Pectoral, pelvic and anal fins with 18-19, 9 and 8 soft rays respectively. The caudal fin is homocercal and deeply forked.

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Body color of the Mrigal fish is usually dark grey on the back and silvery on the sides and belly. Their fins are of grayish color, tips of pelvic, and the lower lobe of caudal are tinged orange (especially during the breeding season).

The mouth of these fish is devoid of any teeth on the jaws, like all other carp fish species. They can generally reach a maximum length of around 1 meter, with an average length of around 40 cm.

Average live body weight of the fish is around 1-2 kg, with a maximum length of around 12.7 kg. Photo and info from FAO and Wikipedia.


Mrigal fish are the benthopelagic and potamodromous plankton feeder. Naturally they are mainly feed on detritus such as debris found in the bottom layers of the water.

They are also a keen algae and invertebrates feeder. But today they are feed commercial feeds in commercial production.


Hatchlings of Mrigal generally remain in the surface or sub-surface waters. But the fry and fingerling tend to move to deeper water. And the mature fish are bottom dwellers.

Depending on location, Mrigal fish generally reach maturity within their 1-2 years of age, when their body length reach around 34 cm.

In natural conditions, generally breeding occurs during the south-west monsoon season in shallow newly inundated wetlands and or river side pools.

They generally breed in water of 0.5-1.0 m. The females can lay up to a million eggs. Artificial breeding is very popular for this fish species.


The Mrigal fish is generally used for food. It has great economic importance in it’s native range.

Special Notes

The Mrigal fish are fast growers. They are generally a species of freshwater, but can also tolerate high levels of salinity.

It is very popular as a food fish, and a very important aquacultured freshwater fish species throughout South Asia.

It is widely cultured as a component of a polyculture system of 3 Indian major carps, along with Rui and Catla fish.

The introduction to aquaculture across India started in the early 1940s and in the 1950s and in the 1960s to other Asian countries. However, review full breed profile of the Mrigal fish in the following chart.

SpeciesC. cirrhosus
Binomial NameCirrhinus mrigala
Other NamesAlso called Cirrhinus mrigala, Cirrhinus cirrhosus, Morakhi, Moree, White carp and Mrigal carp fish
Breed PurposeMainly food
WeightGenerally 1-2 kg, with a maximum weight of around 12.7 kg
Special NotesMainly a freshwater fish species, but can also tolerate salinity, very fast growers, very popular as food fish in their native areas, very popular in polyculture with Catla and Rui fish
Breeding MethodBoth natural and artificial
Climate ToleranceNative climates
Body ColorUsually dark grey on the back and silvery on the sides and belly
AvailabilitySouth Asia

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