Plasmodium parasites cause malaria and are transmitted by adult Anopheles mosquitoes. Programmes that introduce fish into water sources near where people live have been promoted. The theory is that these fish eat the Anopheles mosquito larvae and pupae, thus decreasing the adult mosquito population and reducing the number of people infected with Plasmodium parasites.
In this review, we examined the research that evaluated introducing larvivorous fish to Anopheles mosquito breeding sites in areas where malaria was common, published up to 18 June 2013. We did not find any studies that looked at the effects of larvivorous fish on adult Anopheles mosquito populations or on the number of people infected with Plasmodium parasites. We included 12 studies that examined the effects of larvivorous fish on Anopheles larvae and pupae in different breeding sites, including localized water bodies (such as wells, domestic water containers, fishponds, and pools; six studies), riverbed pools below dams (two studies), rice field plots (three studies), and water canals (two studies). Research evidence is insufficient to show whether introduction of larvivorous fish reduces the number of Anopheles larvae and pupae in water sources (nine studies, unpooled data, very low quality evidence). However, larvivorous fish may reduce the number of water sources withAnopheles mosquito larvae and pupae (five studies, unpooled data, low quality evidence). None of the included studies examined the effects of introducing larvivorous fish on other native species present, but these studies were not designed to do this. Before much is invested in this intervention, better research is needed to determine the effect of introducing larvivorous fish on adult Anopheles populations and on the number of people infected with malaria. Researchers need to use robust controlled designs with an adequate number of sites. Also, researchers should explore whether introducing these fish affects native fish and other non-target species.
Walshe, D.P.; Garner, P.; Abdel-Hameed Adeel, A.A.; Pyke, G.H.; Burkot, T. Larvivorous fish for preventing malaria transmission. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2013) (Issue 12) Art. No.: CD008090. [DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008090.pub2]