Fun Mekong Giant Catfish Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 13, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
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Here are some fun to read Mekong giant catfish facts for kids.

The world's largest catfish, the Mekong giant catfish, gets its name from its most common habitat - the Mekong river. Its scientific name is Pangasianodon gigas.

Back in 2005, this fish held a record in the Guinness World Records, as the largest freshwater fish in the world.

As the fish grow up, interesting changes take place in their intrinsic characteristics. The young catfishes prey upon zooplankton, they even show cannibalistic traits. However, as they grow up, the toothless creature becomes completely herbivorous. They feed upon algae and plants in the river.

No aggressiveness has ever been observed in their nature. The adults live in deep waters, as compared to the young members of the species.

Sadly, the population of this species is decreasing rapidly. They have been listed as Critically Endangered species. The main threats behind their decreasing population are said to be the construction of dams, habitat destruction, navigation projects, overfishing, and pollution.

Several efforts have been made to control the fishing of the giant catfish. The government of Thailand, along with the fishing community, are making efforts to bring positive changes. They are also putting efforts into restoring the fish population in freshwater rivers, including the Mekong River.

Dr. Hogan, an ecologist, has spent more than 20 years researching this fish. According to him, this fish symbolizes the health and integrity of the Mekong River.

Interested to learn about more such interesting animals from across the globe? Then check out the catfish and the Cory catfish.

Mekong Giant Catfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Mekong giant catfish?

Just as the name suggests, the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) is the largest freshwater fish.

What class of animal do a Mekong giant catfish belong to?

The Mekong giant catfish belongs to the Actinopterygii class of animals. This species belongs to the shark catfish family and are known for their extraordinary size. Living in the Mekong river, they are believed to be the world's largest freshwater fish.

How many Mekong giant catfish are there in the world?

Endemic to the Mekong basin, this species of giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) is among the critically Critically Endangered (according to IUCN red list) species. Although the exact number is unknown, scientists estimate that only a few hundred of these fish are alive worldwide. There has been a rapid decline in their number throughout the last decade.

Where does a Mekong giant catfish live?

The Mekong giant catfish is the largest freshwater fish. Although they are endemic to the Mekong River, they migrate great distances during the breeding season.

They travel to Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos PDR. Although their exact migration routes are unknown, scientists believe that they spend quite some time in the Tonle Sap Lake situated in Cambodia, before moving towards the spawning grounds in northern Thailand.

What is a Mekong giant catfish habitat?

As mentioned previously, their preferred habitat is the lower Mekong river. More precisely, the Mekong basin. However, they travel great distances to spawn. One of the main reasons for migration is that they are very particular about the condition of their environment.

Who do Mekong giant catfish live with?

It is not exactly known whether the giant catfish lives in school or on their own, but these fish migrate in schools to spawn.

How long does a Mekong giant catfish live?

The Critically Endangered, largest freshwater fish in the world, living in the Mekong river, has a life expectancy of 60 years.

How do they reproduce?

Found in the Mekong basin, the migratory fish is extremely specific about the environmental conditions. It requires large stretches of rivers to venture on their journey to spawn.

The spawning season starts with the arrival of the monsoon.

Needless to say that the spawning season is also the migration season of these fish. Although the exact migration routes are unknown, scientists believe that this Critically Endangered species of catfish spends a majority of its time at the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia, before moving towards the spawning grounds in northern Thailand.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, the conservation status of the Mekong giant catfish is Critically Endangered. Scientists claim that over the last decade, there has been a sharp decline in their population and that it has decreased by 90%.

Fishing of this species has also been made illegal.

Currently, only a few hundred individual Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) are present in the entire world. Dam construction projects, habitat destruction, navigation projects, overfishing, and pollution are believed to be the main reason for their decreasing population.

Mekong Giant Catfish Fun Facts

What do Mekong giant catfish look like?

No aggressiveness has ever been observed in their nature

*Please note that this image is of a Paroon Shark Catfish that belongs to the same family as the Mekong Giant Catfish. If you have an image of a Mekong Giant Catfish, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

Present in specific parts of southeast Asia, especially in the Mekong River, the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) is the largest freshwater fish in the world. The toothless species of fish is mostly grey-white in color.

While their back is mostly grey, their abdomen is white. Their low sets of eyes give them a very sorrowful look. What sets them apart from other catfish, is the absence of whiskers in this species.

How cute are they?

The giant Mekong catfish looks more sorrowful than cute.

How do they communicate?

The exact communication process of the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) is not known. However, other species of catfish use touch and taste to communicate.

How big is a Mekong giant catfish?

A Mekong giant catfish can grow up to 118.1 in (300 cm) in length. They can grow twice as big as a Chinese alligator in length.

How fast can a Mekong giant catfish swim?

The average swimming speed of the Mekong giant catfish is not known.

How much does a Mekong giant catfish weigh?

The weight of a Mekong giant catfish can go up to 646 lb (293 kg). Compared to the weight of the Chinese alligator, it can grow almost six times heavier.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female species of the giant catfish. Thus, both are called Mekong giant catfish.

What would you call a baby Mekong giant catfish?

There is no specific name for the baby Mekong giant catfish. Thus, similar to any other species of young fish, baby Mekong giant catfish are called fry.

What do they eat?

Living in the Mekong river, the young Mekong giant catfish feed upon zooplankton. They even show cannibalistic traits at times. However, as they grow up, the toothless Mekong giant catfish become herbivores. As adults, they feed upon algae and plants in the river.

Are they dangerous?

Found in the Mekong River, the Mekong giant catfish does not really possess any danger to human beings. Being a toothless species of fish, alongside being herbivores, they are not really capable of doing any harm.

Would they make a good pet?

The Mekong giant catfish perhaps won't be the ideal pet. Although they are not aggressive in nature, it can possess a lot of problems to have such a large species of fish as a pet. In any case, they are an endangered species and shouldn't be kept as pets.

Did you know...

According to a report published in National Geographic, a Mekong giant catfish ranging 106.3 in (270 cm) in length, is the largest freshwater fish ever caught in the world.

What is the rarest catfish in the world?

Living in the Mekong River, the Mekong giant catfish is a Critically Endangered species of catfish in the world. It implies that there is a high chance for the species to go extinct.

Why is the Mekong giant catfish endangered?

According to IUCN the species of Mekong giant catfish, living in the Mekong river, is Critically Endangered. Things like the construction of dams, habitat destruction, navigation projects, overfishing, and pollution are believed to be the main reason behind the sharp population decline of the species.

However, the Thai ministry is taking a closer look into the matter. Along with the fishing community, the Thai government is trying to restore the fish in the Mekong River.

The National Geographic emerging explorer, Zeb Hogan, is also lending a hand to save the largest catfish species in the world and symbolizes the health and integrity of the Mekong River.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes including the channel catfish and the blue catfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Mekong giant catfish coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

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Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

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