Giant Mekong Catfish – Freshwater Fish in Thailand

Common name: Giant Mekong Catfish, Mekong Giant Catfish. Species: Pangasianodon gigas. Thai Name: Pla buk.

 

Giant Mekong catfish is one of the Catfish species in the family of the shark catfish; native to the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia, with recorded sizes of up to 10.5 ft (3.2 m) and 660 lb (300 kg). The Giant Mekong catfish currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records’ position for the world’s largest freshwater fish.

 

mekong giant catfishAlthough research projects are currently ongoing, relatively little is known about the Giant Mekong Catfish. Historically, the fish’s natural range reached from the lower Mekong in Vietnam, above the tidally influenced brackish water of the river’s delta. All the way to the northern reaches of the river in the Yunnan province of China; spanning almost the entire 4,800-km length of the river. The Giant Mekong catfish is in danger of extinction due to over fishing, as well as the decrease in water quality. Due to development and upstream damming, the species no longer inhabits the majority of its original habitat. Giant Mekong catfish is now believed to only exist in small, isolated populations in the middle Mekong region.

 

Giant Mekong Catfish

Congregate during the beginning of the rainy season and migrate hundreds of miles upstream to spawning grounds in Thailand. The Giant Mekong Catfish is released in some of the largest lakes in Thailand. The flooded valley Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok is one of the last places, where you have the chance to see one alive in the wild. They live primarily, where the water depth is over 10 m. This species feeds on zooplankton in the river and it is also known to be cannibalistic. After approximately one year, the fish becomes herbivorous, feeding on filamentous algae, probably it also ingesting larvae and periphyton accidentally. The fish likely obtains its food from algae growing on submerged rocky surfaces, as it does not have any sort of dentition.

 

Fishing for the Giant Mekong Catfish

All fishing for this species is illegal in the wild in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. But the bans appear to be ineffective; the fish continue to be caught in all three countries. However, in recognition of the threat to the species, many Thai fishermen agreed to stop catching the endangered catfish in June 2006; to mark the 60th anniversary of Bhumibol Adulyadej’s ascension to the throne of Thailand. Thailand is the only country there allow fishing for private stocks of Giant Mekong catfish, this will hopefully help to saving the species.

 

Source: WikipediaFishbase

 

 

 

 

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