Farming practices and farmers' perspective of a non-native fish red-bellied Pacu, Piaractus brachypomus (Cuvier, 1818) in India.
Burgeoning population growth, increasing affluence, and changing dietary habits of people have caused a phenomenal rise in fish demand over the years in India. Diversification of aquaculture species aimed at increasing yield and providing a wider choice of fish protein to the consumers has led to the introduction of several more affordable species into the culture system. Of these, few fish species are yet to get government nod for culture, but these have increasingly been adopted by the farmers. Red-bellied pacu, Piaractus brachypomus is one of such kinds which has increased its spread in culture system to more than 2500 ha ever since its introduction in 2003-2004. The present attempt envisaged a systematic study to find the status of this species in the culture system, especially in the three States, i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and West Bengal where its adoption has increased considerably. A total of 351 pacu farms were surveyed using a structured open-ended questionnaire during the period 2011-2015 in these three States. The survey revealed a gradual increase in culture area and production of pacu during the five years. There was a proportionately higher increase in the sale price of pacu compared to other concurrent major cultured species such as the Indian major carps and striped catfish. The majority of the farmers (87%) practicing pacu farming in the three studied states opined in favour of the culture of pacu due to its overall profitability. The findings of this study will be helpful for making informed decisions by the policymakers for the expansion of its culture in the country.