The Giant Mekong Catfish is the biggest freshwater fish in the world. It can grow up to 400Kg, the biggest Mekong catfish we have in the Phuket Freshwater Fishing Lake is 50kg.
Species Profile – Giant Mekong Catfish
The Mekong giant catfish is perhaps the most interesting and most threatened species in the Mekong river. For this reason conservationists have chosen it as a sort of “flagship” species to promote conservation on the Mekong. With recorded sizes of up to 10.5ft (3.2m) and 660lb (300kg), the Mekong’s giant catfish currently holds the Guinness Book of World Record’s position for the world’s largest freshwater fish. Although research projects are currently ongoing, relatively little is known about this species. Historically, the fish had a natural range that 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. Due to threats, this species no longer inhabits the majority of its original habitat; it is now believed to only exist in small, isolated populations in the middle Mekong region. Fish congregate during the beginning of the rainy season and migrate upstream to spawn. They live primarily in the main channel of the river, where the water depth is over 10m while researchers, fishermen and officials have found this species in the Tonle Sap river and lake in Cambodia, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. In the past, fishermen have reported the fish in a number of the Mekong’s tributaries; today, however, essentially no sightings are reported outside of the main Mekong river channel and the Tonle Sap region.
In infancy, this species feeds on zooplankton in the river and is known to be cannibalistic. After approximately one year, the fish becomes herbivorous, feeding on filamentous algae, probably 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.
Attaining an unconfirmed length of 3 m, the Mekong giant catfish grows extremely quickly, reaching a mass of 150 to 200 kg in only six years. The largest catch recorded in Thailand since record-keeping began in 1981 was a female measuring 2.7 m (roughly 9 feet) in length and weighing 293 kg (646 lb). This specimen, caught in 2005, is widely recognized as the largest freshwater fish ever caught (although sturgeon can far exceed this size, they can be anadromous). Thai Fisheries officials stripped the fish of its eggs as part of a breeding programme, intending then to release it, but the fish died in captivity and was sold as food to local villagers.
Grey to white in colour and lacking stripes, the Mekong giant catfish is distinguished by the near-total lack of barbels and the absence of teeth.