The giant pangasius or Chao Phraya giant catfish (Pangasius sanitwongsei) is a species of freshwater fish in the shark catfish family (family Pangasiidae) of order Siluriformes, found in the Chao Phraya and Mekong basins in Indochina. These fish are benthopelagic swimmers. It has declined drastically mainly due to overfishing and it is now considered Critically Endangered.
The giant pangasius is pigmented with dusky melanophores. It has a wide, flat, whiskerless head. It has a silver, curved underside and a dark brown back. Its dorsal, pectoral and pelvic fins are dark gray and the first soft ray is extended into a filament. Full-grown adults can reach 300 centimetres (120 in) SL in length and weigh up to 300 kg (660 lb).
In relation on size and weight they are to be excelled only by the Mekong giant catfish. They are a beautiful silver colour, the upper body being darker than the belly. They are easy to distinguish from the Mekong giant catfish by their long flowing fins, which are rumoured by locals to give out electric shocks, but we have handled many of these fish and never experienced this myth. In Loei, on the upper part of the Mekong, a local fisherman reported a fish weighing 300kg, indicating that the species may, in fact, rival the size of the "real" Mekong giant catfish. Fins are pigmented with dusky melanophores, and the first soft ray in dorsal, pectoral and pelvic fins is prolonged into a filament. It has a broad head and black tips on first few anal fin rays in individuals of all sizes, particularly in juveniles, and the palatine and vomerine teeth are united into a single, long crescentic patch. These catfish are carnivores that feed on small fish, shrimps and carcasses of large animals, and they will hunt as well as scavenge. Larger individuals have been known to feed on carcasses of fowl or dog (which are commonly used for bait in the rivers of Thailand. They spawn just before the rainy season in May, but they do not spawn naturally in still water, needing flowing water to spawn in the wild. They are stripped and artificially spawned in fish farms throughout Thailand. The young of the year reach a length of about 10cm by mid-June. These are quick growing fish that soon reach maturity and very large weights. These fish can be found in large rivers or lakes, and they are widely spread throughout Asia.
Relationship to humans
Fishing of this species used to be accompanied by religious ceremonies and rites. It is often mentioned in textbooks, news media, and popular press. This fish is a popular food fish and marketed fresh.
These fish sometimes appear in the aquarium fish hobby. Most specimens do not reach there full size without an extremely large aquarium or pond. There is even a "balloon" form of this fish where the fish has an unusually short and stocky body.
- ^ a b Jenkins, A., Kullander, F.F. & Tan, H.H. (2007). Pangasius sanitwongsei. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 2009-11-24.
- ^ a b c d Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Pangasius sanitwongsei" in FishBase. February 2012 version.
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