All About Tenualosa Ilisha (Hilsa Fish)

tenualosa ilisha

Last updated on July 10th, 2022 at 06:09 am

Tenualosa ilisha, more commonly known as Hilsa in the fish markets of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, and throughout the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia, is an edible fish belonging to the herring family (Clupeidae). These fish are not only highly sought after due to their extremely tender and succulent meat, but they’re also considered to be the most expensive fish in the world.

Hilsa Fish (scientific name: Tenualosa ilisha) are prized in South Asia and among many communities around the world for their succulent white meat and a mild taste. Native to the Sundarbans in India and Bangladesh, these fish have been treasured by people in these regions since ancient times, where they were once even used as currency.

However, due to increased demand and overfishing, Hilsa Fish populations have declined greatly in recent years, making these fish harder to find and more expensive than ever before.

Here you will find information on the Tenualosa Ilisha fish, or Hilsa fish, which has been used in Asia as a delicacy to be enjoyed during the winter months and special occasions.

This guide on Tenualosa Ilisha care covers everything from feeding and raising to spawning and reproduction in order to help you take care of your Tenualosa Ilisha fish so that they can live as long as possible and give you as many eggs and offspring as possible so that you can continue raising them generation after generation, year after year.

Origin and description

tenualosa ilisha

The Tenualosa ilisha, commonly known as hilsa fish or ilish, is a species of fish in the genus Tenualosa of the family Clupeidae. The fish may grow up to 50 cm and weigh 1.2 kg. It is native to South Asia from Pakistan to India, Nepal, and Bangladesh and south to Myanmar, where it inhabits marine water bodies such as estuaries and rivers.

Hilsa is an economically important food fish, one of three prominent genera of carangid fishes with about 55 species. Hilsas are highly popular among both recreational and commercial fishermen throughout their range.

Large numbers of adult hilsas run inshore during October–December seasons to spawn; they enter brackish water upstream during May-August after completing their long seaward migration that begins near the Persian Gulf/Gulf of Oman/Arabian Sea.

Scoloplax baileyi

Species profile

Tenualosa ilisha is a small herring-like fish that’s native to river systems in India and South East Asia. The Hilsa has been known as a delicacy throughout South Asia for centuries and is commonly prepared whole with its head attached. It can be steamed, grilled, or baked; some people even eat it raw! If you’ve ever eaten traditional Bengali food before, you’ve probably eaten Hilsa—they’re an essential ingredient in many dishes.

This species of fish is primarily sold fresh but can also be found frozen and canned at markets around the world. You’ll likely see two varieties at your local market: white hilsas are from freshwater habitats while black hilsas are from marine environments.

Habitat and distribution

The hilsa lives in fresh water and estuaries. It is an anadromous fish, which means it is born in freshwater but migrates to saltwater to breed. This species of fish is found along India’s coastline and its neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, West Bengal, Thailand, and parts of Vietnam.

It can also be found in other parts of Southeast Asia including China. Hilsas migrate upstream during the monsoon season between June and August. They are a major component of Bengali cuisine. They may grow up to 60 cm (24 in). In 2014, Greenpeace International added both Tenualosa ilisha and Protonibea diacanthus to its seafood red list.

Tenualosa ilisha size and weight

It grows to an average length of 1.8 metres, but specimens may grow up to 2 metres in length and weigh over 50 kg. The largest caught in recent times was over 2.6 metres long and weighed 66 kg. The world record weight is 103kg for an hilsa fish caught in Pakistan in July 2007.

Tenualosa ilisha tank size

50 gallons or larger are preferred for keeping Hilsas. Smaller tanks may not provide enough room for these fish to swim about freely and will lead to behavioral problems. The bigger, the better when it comes to Hila tanks!

Tank set up

Hilsas are tropical fish and require a heated, filtered tank with lots of hiding places. They can be housed with other species of a similar size, but each individual needs to have its own territory. If you want to house multiple Hilsas in one tank, then do not put more than two males in there together; you’ll end up with three very dead and very smelly fishes.

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Males will fight to protect their territory; they are particularly aggressive towards each other when they are ready to spawn. If your male(s) behave aggressively during the breeding season, separate them from others or provide plenty of caves for them to hide inside. This way they won’t spend all day chasing females instead of eating!

Tenualosa ilisha tank mates

Hilsas aren’t very social fish, so you should keep them with their own kind. You can keep a pair of them in a 75-gallon tank, or they’ll be comfortable in a 100-gallon tank. Just be sure to give each one plenty of space – more than 50 gallons per Hilsa is recommended for single specimens.

Tenualosa ilisha breeding

tenualosa ilisha

Hilsas should be bred in large ponds that have good aeration and filtration systems. Before they are released into their pond, they must undergo at least 3 weeks in quarantine to ensure they do not carry diseases. They prefer soft acidic water which has an ideal pH between 6-7. Depending on your conditions, you can adjust your water parameters accordingly.

Hilsas are anadromous fish, meaning they breed in fresh water and live in saltwater. They migrate between freshwater to saltwater rivers, usually during the pre-monsoon season when freshwater levels are at their highest. The eggs are then carried downstream on floodwaters until hatching occurs once river levels begin to recede.

In captivity, breeding requires extensive hard work and a lot of commitment. Successful reproduction is not only dependent on weather conditions but also varies from place to place based on seasonal activity patterns in each location.

Factors such as temperature, access to food sources, and spawning sites all need to be taken into consideration before releasing any adult fish into a fishery pond.

Are tenualosa Ilisha aggressive or peaceful?

You may have heard stories about tenualosa ilisha’s aggressive behavior in nature, but when farmed in controlled conditions, they are relatively peaceful. As a tenualosa ilisha owner, you will want to be prepared for their active nature and make sure that your tank is equipped with plenty of hiding spaces.

This will allow them to feel comfortable while still allowing you to observe their interesting behavior without fear of injury.

Tenualosa ilisha care

tenualosa ilisha

Tenualosa Ilisha is a schooling fish that prefers flowing water. If you keep them in stagnant water, it can lead to health problems like fungal infections and premature death. The water must be constantly moving over gravel or a fine substrate and kept very clean. Filters are ideal but not required.

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They do very well in warmer tropical climates with a temperature of 70 degrees or higher, but colder temperatures can be tolerated as long as they have enough room to find warmer pockets of water to hide in during cold periods.

What does Tenualosa ilisha eat?

Hilsas are omnivorous fish, and thus do not require any specific diet. However, it is best to feed them with pellets made for carnivorous fish along with a generous amount of brine shrimp or bloodworms.

They eat a lot of algae but also consume plankton, insects, worms, snails, and tadpoles in addition to plant materials such as leaves, fruits, and seeds. They also eat shrimp and other crustaceans, seaweed, and detritus.

These fish will even eat their own eggs if given the chance! If there isn’t enough food available, silver hilsas won’t hesitate to cannibalize members of their own kind.

Water parameters

The ideal pH range is 6.0-7.5, dGH range should be between 7.0 and 20, and the water temperature should be 21 to 28°C.

Tenualosa ilisha lifespan

The Hilsa has a relatively long lifespan for an aquarium fish, living up to 15 years with proper care. Unlike many other freshwater aquarium fish, it is hardy and less prone to illness. The exact lifespan will vary based on water conditions, diet, and care level.

Hilsas are capable of breeding when they are as young as one year old if they are kept together with at least one other of their species. However, females may not be fertile until they reach two years of age.

Parasites and diseases

Poor water quality and lack of food may also lead to diseases. Antibiotics are used on commercial farms to treat infections, but they can cause more harm than good when overdosed.

Although some fish diseases affect humans (such as Rift Valley fever), you shouldn’t attempt to treat an infected fish. For example, handling your sick fish cleaning tanks, and siphoning out dead animals are not recommended in order to avoid contamination. Always read care guides provided by breeders before taking care of a specific species.

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If your Hilsa has a disease that it can’t fight alone, take it to a vet; ask a friend if they have any recommendations based on their own experiences with Hilsas and related species.


The Hilsa is a tasty fish for predators. Larger fish such as Barramundi, Salmon, Shark, and Whales may eat smaller Hilsas. As a last resort to escape predators, Hilsas can jump out of the water using their powerful muscles to leap out of the water with ease.

Food value

tenualosa ilisha

The most delicious fish species in Bangladesh. হিল্স চেয়ে একে আমায় !!! You can fry it, grill it, or cook it with different sauces, or even use Hilsa to make Shorshe ilish. In the winter season, fresh Hilsas are available in almost all of the local markets across Bangladesh.

The fish is rich in nutrition. In terms of vitamins and minerals, it contains vitamins B1, B2, Niacin, Thiamine. Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Phosphorus. It also contains essential amino acids and fatty acids (Omega 3).

The fish contains Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that help reduce high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and heart disease as well as relieve depression symptoms.

The tissue of Tenualosa ilisha is 60% fat. It has an excellent ratio between linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid.

Freshwater Hilsas are different from saltwater Hilsas in appearance, taste, and nutrition content. Freshwater Hilsas have shorter bodies than their saltwater counterparts with a length ranging from 2–4 ft., compared to 2–6 ft for saltwater fishes.

Does Tenualosa ilisha make great pets?

Contrary to popular belief, Tenualosa ilisha is not a good pet fish. Although they are beautiful, peaceful, and interesting to watch, they do not make good pets because they grow very large and require more care than an average aquarium owner can provide. At full size, it may be difficult for them to swim properly in a small tank or bowl.