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Pangasianodon gigas  Chevey, 1931

irst of all this is not an aquarium care sheet for this species as the "Mekong giant catfish" does not belong in the home aquarium, as this is one of the worlds largest freshwater fish and as such should be admired from afar!

Pangasianodon gigas

It was reported in 2003 that Pangasianodon gigas is in itself getting to a critical point of extinction due to the growing pressure by fisheries, damming, and habitat destruction along the banks in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. This is also true of a lot of other species that exist in this great river as more and more people rely on the Megong for their livliehood.

Like many species in the Mekong, the giant catfish needs great stretches of the river to migrate seasonally—and it must have specific water quality and flow to move through its lifecycles of spawning, eating, and breeding.

Pangasianodon gigas

It shows one of the greatest growth rates for any fish in the world, reaching 150 to 200kg in 6 years.


The "Mekong giant catfish" has been re-listed as Critically Endangered because there is information which indicates that populations of the fish have declined significantly over the past several years.

There are game fishing trips for catching this large species (above) but these are rereleased back into their habitat and the records that they record can help to identify what condition and numbers there are at that present moment in time.

Dorsal spines (total): 2 - 2; Dorsal soft rays (total): 7 - 8; Anal soft rays: 35; Vertebrae: 48. Body without stripes; posterior nostril located near anterior nostril; 7 branched dorsal-fin rays; gill rakers rudimentary or absent. The center of the eye above the horizontal line through the mouth angle in juveniles; eye totally below the level of mouth angle in subadults and adults. The maxillary and mandibulary pairs of barbels well developed in juveniles; mandibulary barbels become rudimentary in subadults and adults. Gigantic size; oral teeth and gill rakers present in small juveniles, absent at about 30-50 cm SL; dorsal, pelvic and pectoral fins without filamentous extensions.

Silver to grey body. Fins grey, never black. Yellow underbelly and same colour to mouth area.

Not an aquarium specimen.

Little is known on its general pattern of life and migratory journeys for spawning

Feeds on vegetation and insect larvae in the river but takes other food in captivity.

Sexual differences
Females are fuller in the body.

Pangasianodon: Pangasius + an (Greek for without)+odon (Greek for tooth); in reference to the toothless state of the adult fish.
Latin meaning Giant

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2006.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (05/2006).
Rainboth, WJ, 1996. Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong. FAO Species Identification Field Guide for Fishery Purposes. FAO, Rome, p153.
National Geographic: Giant Catfish Critically Endangered. Ryan Mitchell and David Braun National Geographic News November 18, 2003.

Factsheet Request
Eric Olson

Gill rakers: Structure on the upper portion of the gill arches.
Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
Mandibulary barbels: Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels)

Photo Credits

Top image:       Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library

Bottom image: Fishing Adventures Thailand
Factsheet 123

Pangasius gigas , Pangasius paucidens
Common Name:
Mekong giant catfish
Asia: endemic to the Mekong basin where it has become rare due to  overexploitation. International trade banned (CITES I, since 1.7.1975; CMS Appendix I).
300cm. (11ft.4ins)
22 -28°C (71 -83°F)
6.5 -7.5.
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                                                                                               Factsheet 123 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top