Mekong Giant Catfish

Mekong giant catfish

Last updated on September 4th, 2022 at 05:34 am

The Mekong giant catfish is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. They are found along Mekong river and other major rivers in southeast Asia, but they are also experiencing an alarming population decrease due to habitat loss and overfishing.

Mekong giant catfish live in the Mekong river and Mekong delta. They are the largest freshwater fish species with some specimens weighing over 600 pounds. The giant catfish is the only living member of this family that is found in mekong river or mekong delta, although fossil records show that they were once more diverse at one point.

This blog post will provide you with information about mekong giant catfish, including their diet, behavior patterns, mating habits, territorial aggression levels, and how scientists believe they migrate throughout mekong river basin.

Origin and descriptions

Mekong giant catfish

The mekong giant catfish is native to the Mekong River, which runs through Cambodia and Vietnam. The fish can grow up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms), so it’s no surprise that people consider them a delicacy. Their size also makes harvesting difficult because of their limited habitat—the Mekong river only has enough water for about five mekong giant catfish at a time.

Despite their massive size, the mekong giant catfish are gentle giants. They mainly eat plants and small fish, and they’re not known to attack humans. That said, you don’t want to get too close: These fish can generate an electric field of up to 500 volts.

The mekong giant catfish are a threatened species, and the Cambodian government has put in place measures to protect them. In addition to regulating fishing, they’ve set up breeding sanctuaries for the fish. So if you find yourself in Cambodia, be sure to try this unique local delicacy. Just be careful not to get shocked!

Species profile

Mekong giant catfish

Mekong giant catfish is a large and critically endangered fish. It belongs to the family Pangasiidae (Shark catfish), also known as “fantail” or “bony tongues”. The species is endemic to the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia.

Blacknose Shiner (Notropis Heterolepis)

It can reach up to two meters long and weigh up to 300 kg. The body of the fish is elongated and cylindrical, with a deep blue-black color on the back and silversides. The belly is white.

The fish has no scales but instead large bony scutes that are diamond-shaped and can be as long as 20 cm! Its mouth looks like a cave, with the lower jaw longer than the upper one. It uses its protruding jaws to suck up prey from river bottoms of small invertebrates such as shrimp, crabs, and clams.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Mekong giant catfish is Pangasianodon gigas.

Pangasianodon comes from the Latin words “panga” (meaning fish) and “sianus” (meaning Indian), in reference to the fish’s original distribution in the Ganges River system.

Gigas comes from the Latin word “giga”, which means giant.

Color and appearance

The fish has a broad head with wide mouth that contains prominent barbels on either side and large whisker-like sensory organs around their lips called cirri. They also have four pairs of barbels on the chin that are more prominent than those found in other catfish species.

Mekong giant catfish is generally blue-black above and silvery-white below, with white to gray fins (with black spots), set against dark bands along their body sides.

The dorsal fin has a short base and a long, stiff spine. The anal fin is low with no barbels at the corners.

The fish has a tall convex forehead with a large mouth angled upwards on its underslung lower jaw. This species does not have any scales but instead five rows of bony scutes that cover the head and nape from the eyes to the dorsal fin.

Mekong giant catfish size

The Mekong giant catfish is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, second only to the arapaima (Arapaima gigas) in size.

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It can reach up to two meters long and weigh up to 300 kg.

Tank size

Mekong giant catfish do well in a tank that is at least 100 gallons.

They should have plenty of room to swim and can grow up to two meters long, so make sure the tank size can accommodate their adult size.

Life cycle

The Mekong giant catfish has a life cycle that is typical for most fish. It starts as an egg, which hatches into a larva, and then matures into an adult. The eggs are fertilized externally and the larvae stay near the surface of the water until they mature into adults.

The giant catfish can become sexually mature at the age of six years. The adults spawn in groups during the flooding season, which is June to September in Cambodia and October to December in Laos and Thailand. Each female can spawn up to 2000 eggs multiple times during the spawning season, which is why they produce large numbers of young fish each year.

The Mekong giant catfish has a life expectancy that varies between 50 and 70 years old in the wild because it does not have any known predators other than humans. In captivity, however, their life expectancy is much lower because they can fall ill or be subject to death by accident.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

The Mekong giant catfish is a peaceful fish that usually avoids confrontation. However, if it is provoked or feels threatened, it can become quite aggressive and has been known to attack humans.

Mekong giant catfish care

Mekong giant catfish

A Mekong giant catfish needs plenty of space to thrive in the aquarium. They can grow up to six feet long and need at least a 100 gallon tank. The water should be kept clean with regular water changes, and they will appreciate a planted tank with lots of hiding places.

Feeding a Mekong giant catfish is also a complicated process. Their preferred food is live or frozen fish such as carp, but they should also be offered pelleted foods and plant matter. They can easily swallow their prey whole so they should not be kept with smaller tank mates unless the aquarium is very large.

Brook Trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis)

Mekong giant catfish diet

Mekong giant catfish are not fussy eaters and will readily eat most types of food. A healthy Mekong giant catfish diet should consist primarily of pelleted foods, although they also enjoy plant matter such as algae wafers or fresh vegetables.

Frozen or live fish make the ideal treat for a Mekong giant catfish and should be offered occasionally. Be sure to choose a variety of different types of fish to keep your catfish healthy and happy.

Tank mates for Mekong giant catfish

Mekong giant catfish are not suitable for community tanks and should be kept alone. They can easily swallow smaller fish whole, so it is best to keep them with larger species that cannot be eaten in one gulp. A large aquarium of at least 100 gallons is required as well.

Water conditions

Mekong giant catfish need cool, clean water. Their ideal temperature range is between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and the pH should be around six or seven. Mekong giant catfish are sensitive to chemicals in unfiltered tap water so you will want a good quality filter on your aquarium before adding this fish.

They also appreciate a heavily planted tank with plenty of hiding places. This will help to keep the water clean and create a natural environment for your fish.

Breeding Mekong giant catfish

Mekong giant catfish

Mekong giant catfish are not easy to breed and require a lot of care and attention. The water conditions must be perfect and the parents will need a large tank to spawn in. The eggs will hatch in about four days and the fry should be fed a variety of foods including brine shrimp, daphnia, and powdered foods.

It can be a challenge to breed Mekong giant catfish, but the end result is well worth the effort. If you are successful, you will have a new addition to your aquarium that is sure to turn heads.

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Mekong giant catfish lifespan

The Mekong giant catfish lives for 15 years on average.

Parasites and diseases

Mekong giant catfish are susceptible to white spot disease caused by the parasite “Ichthyophthirius multifiliis” and parasitic skin flukes.

They may also be affected by viral diseases such as Enteric Red Mouth Disease (ERM), Aeromonas Salmonicida, Flavobacterium Columnaris, Myxobacteriosis, and Streptococcus Pyogenes.

Mekong giant catfish are also affected by bacterial diseases such as Aeromonas hydrophila, Bacillus sp., Escherichia coli, Pasteurella piscicida, Pseudomonas fluorescens.

They can also be affected by fungal diseases such as Saprolegnia ferax, Aspergillus niger, Penicillium expansum, and Pichia membranifaciens.


The Mekong giant catfish has a number of predators, including the Siamese crocodile, the false gharial, and the common carp.

Other predators include the black kite, brahminy kite, cobra, king cobra, green pit viper, Russell’s viper, and banded krait.

Do they make good pets?

Mekong giant catfish do not make good pets. They can grow up to three meters in length and weigh more than 300 kg, making them too large for most aquariums. They are also a very aggressive fish and may attack other tank inhabitants.


The Mekong giant catfish is a large, aggressive fish that can live for up to 15 years. They are susceptible to a number of parasites and diseases and have a number of predators. They do not make good pets and should be avoided by most aquarium owners.