Mekong Giant Catfish Facts and Information

Pangasianodon gigas

Introduction to  Mekong Giant Catfish

 The Mekong Giant Catfish is often mistaken for a type of shark in the water. They can be very large – up to 10 ½ ft long and with a weight of up to 660 pounds. It is considered to be the largest freshwater fish in the world.

Mekong Giant Catfish Description

 The color of the Mekong Giant Catfish is a light gray with silver at the top. The bottom is a yellow or a white cream color. They don’t have any teeth which is interesting. They are the only species of catfish that don’t have any teeth.

They have eyes that are very low set on the face. Barbels are present on the juveniles. However, as they get older and they mature those will disappear.

Class Actinopterygii
Order Siluriformes
Family Pangasiidae
Genus Pangasianodon
Conservation status Critically Endangered

Mekong Giant Catfish Distribution

 The Mekong Basin in South east Asia and they tend to live in the deeper areas of the water. They also live in many areas where the water flows very fast. They are hard to see though due to where they live in the water. They are often found at the lower parts of the water for feeding. There is estimated to only be a few hundred of the adults left in the wild at this point in time.

Mekong Giant Catfish Behavior

 There is a great deal that experts still don’t know about the life of the Mekong Giant Catfish. Many of the behaviors that it takes part in remain a mystery for it. They aren’t believed to be aggressive in terms of behavior. However, they are known to be very powerful. They do migrate a large distance annually. They cover long stretches of the river as they need specific types of environments for spawning and breeding.

Giant Mekong Catfish Facts and Information

Giant Mekong Catfish – Pangasianodon gigas / Photo taken by Ginkgo100

Mekong Giant Catfish Feeding

 When the Mekong Giant Catfish are young they will dine on various forms of zooplankton. When they are about 1 year old they will start to change their diet and consume lots of algae. They also consume plants from the bottom of the water. They spend a great deal of time consuming food as they need volumes of it to meet their nutritional needs.

Mekong Giant Catfish Reproduction

 As the rainy season begins the Mekong Giant Catfish will start to spawn and move upstream. Only the larger ones will be able to mate as size is what determines it, not their age. They do grow very quickly though and most of the time they are able to mate by the time they are 6 years old.

Mekong Giant Catfish Conservation

 The Mekong Giant Catfish is considered to be Critically Endangered at this point in time. It is believed that in the past 15 years they have lost at least 80% of their habitat. There are efforts in place to help them but many worry that it is too late for them to get their numbers high enough in the wild. There are bans on catching this fish in various locations but the laws aren’t enforced so the process of taking  them continues.

Some of the conservation efforts including breeding the Mekong Giant Catfish in captivity and then releasing them in the wild. Even when the conditions in captivity are replicated, they don’t seem to do well once they are released again. This has created some tensions as the conservation efforts aren’t working as planned.

With that in mind, the direction has changed to work on helping those that are thriving in the wild to reach the age of maturity. There are advocates that roam around the fishing areas. They are quick to report anyone that is taking a Mekong Giant Catfish but if the authorities aren’t willing to act fast then it may not be something that helps.


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