Hilsa Fish — National Fish of Bangladesh

Hilsa fish or ilish fish any of the mem­bers of the genus Ten­u­alosa of the fam­ily Clu­pei­dae, order Clu­peiformes, sci­en­tific Species Ten­u­alosa ilisha. Bangla name is Ilish, the Hilsa fish has been des­ig­nated as the national fish of Bangladesh. Ilish fish body is strongly com­pressed & mod­er­ately deep with dor­sal and ven­tral pro­file equally con­vex. The upper jaw of Hilsha fish has a dis­tinct median notch. Reg­u­larly arranged medium-​sized scales cover the metal­lic silver-​colored body. Ilish fish body length may reach up to 60 cen­time­ter or 24 inches, but com­monly found spec­i­mens mea­sure 35 to 40 cen­time­ter or 15 inches of Ilish in Bangladesh.



A large-​sized Hilsa or Ilish weighs about 2.5 kilo­grams. Females Hilsa grow faster and are usu­ally larger than males ilish. The hilsa fish is known to be a fast swim­mer, and Ilish fish attains matu­rity in one to two years.

Where found Hilsa fish :

Ilish or Hilsa fish has a wide range of dis­tri­b­u­tion and occurs in marine, estu­ar­ine and river­ine envi­ron­ments of Bangladesh. The Hilsa fish is found in the Bay of Ben­gal of Bangladesh , India and Myan­mar area. Hilsa also found other sea like Per­sian Gulf, Viet­nam Sea Ara­bian Sea, China Sea. and Red Sea. The Ilish habi­tat in the Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Kar­na­fully and other coaster rivers of Bangladesh is very tasty. The Hilsa also found East­ern & West­ern Rivers of India, the Indus of Pak­istan, Satil Arab, and the Tigris & Euphrates of Iran and Iraq and the Irrawaddy River of Myanmar.

Hilsa fish life and Breeding :

The Hilsa fish is anadro­mous, with a life cycle that fol­lows the gen­eral breed­ing pat­tern upstream in fresh water of chan­nels of the Padma, Meghna, Kar­na­fully, Jamuna and other rivers of Bangladesh. Ilish lar­vae hatch­ing from the free-​floating eggs. The imma­ture hilsa in the early life grow in river chan­nels of Bangladesh and then descend to the Bay of Ben­gal for a period of feed­ing & growth before return­ing to the rivers as mature breed­ing adults to com­plete the cycle.

The Ilish is a highly fecund fish. A large-​sized female hilsa may pro­duce about 2 mil­lion eggs. Although hilsas fish spawn more or less through­out the year, they have a minor spawn­ing sea­son is from Feb­ru­ary to March and a major sea­son is from Sep­tem­ber to Octo­ber of the year in Bangladesh. Small hilsa fish 2 inches to 4 inches ( 610 cen­time­ter ), known as Jatka, are strictly pro­hib­ited to catch dur­ing their sea­ward sea­son in all rivers and coastal area of Bangladesh.

Hilsa Food :

Hilsa is pri­mar­ily a plank­ton feeder and its food includes diatoms, blue-​green algae, clado­cera, desmids, cope­pods, rotifers, etc. The feed­ing habit may vary accord­ing to the sea­son, age and liv­ing envi­ron­ment of Hilsa.

Frozen hilsa fish export from Bangladesh

About 60% of Hilsa fish of the world found in Bangladesh. Hilsa pro­duc­tion is 16.4 % (appx.) of total fish in Bangladesh. Bangladesh export Hilsa to India, Mid­dle East, Europe and Amer­ica. This frozen fish export is increas­ing sig­nif­i­cantly and has an impor­tant role to the econ­omy of Bangladesh in recent year. It is esti­mated that about 2 mil­lion fish­er­men and traders are engaged in hilsa fish­ing in the country.

Hilsa or Ilish fish price in Bangladesh

1 kilo­gram hilsa fish price is Tk. 500 to Tk. 1000 per piece in local mar­ket of Bangladesh. Dur­ing Pohela Boishak or Puja Ilish price go high to Tk. 1000 to 2000 taka per piece.

Ilish Maach Curry and Panta Ilish

Bangladeshi peo­ple like mouth­wa­ter­ing ‘shorshe ilish’ dish very much, it is very tasty Ben­gali Cui­sine dish. This hilsa dish is cooked by slices of ilish, mus­tard seed, onion and spices with smoke fire. Panta Ilish (Fried slice hilsa fish, chilies, onions, dried fish paste) is a tra­di­tional food of Ben­gali, espe­cially in the first day of Bangla New Year “Pohela Boishakh”. There are many more pop­u­lar Hisla recipes in Bangladesh and India.

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