Striped Catfish (Pla Sawai – ปลาสะวาย)
Identification: Grey through silver in colour , its smooth scaleless skin reflects light the same way a pearl does. With minimal barbels, an iridescent stripe along the lateral line, and a smaller more pointy head than the Giant Mekong, it is often described as having a shark-like appearance. The eyes are underslung, but set slightly higher in the head than the Giant Mekong Catfish – a close relative with which it is often confused.
Additional Information: Striped catfish are found in most stocked lakes throughout Thailand. They grow to a maximum size of around 20Kg in Thailand, with much smaller fish of 2 to 10Kg being very common in the lakes of northern Thailand. They provide anglers with a great fight, being renowned for high speed runs and sudden changes of direction.
Striped catfish are omnivorous feeding mostly on plants, algae, crustaceans, insects and occasionally small fish, but bread is undoubtedly the best fishing bait, presented high up in open water or on the bottom amongst a bed of bread and rice bran delivered by the common “cage” feeder.
These are a good tasting fish and are farmed for their firm and tasty flesh. It is sold under various names, being seen as a tasty replacement for dwindling stocks of once popular sea fish. Common names under which its filleted flesh are sold include Pangasius, Panga, Basa – depending on where you are in the world. Wherever you are, you can be sure to find this in your local supermarket – with rarely a mention of the word catfish. Those marketing folks have been at it again…
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