As a fishery owner I am often asked where do we get the amazing fish stocks here at Exotic Fishing Thailand. Sometimes I think clients imagine myself and my staff flying into the Amazon rainforest in a helicopter to extract, for example, Arapaima in a sling from their native habitat. This is simply not the case. With over 60 different fish species from all over the world every species has its own story.
The Amazon’s species are a primary target for many anglers fishing in Thailand. The fact that fisherman on holiday with their families can take one day to themselves and have the opportunity to catch fish that otherwise they would have to travel into the Amazon rainforest to catch is obviously very attractive.
Two of the most common Amazon fish species found in Thailand are the Arapaima and the Amazon Redtail Catfish. These fish are not native to Thailand. Fisheries and Thai authorities take great precautions to make sure all non-native species do not enter Thai waterways and upset the natural balance.
Most Amazon species arrive in Thailand through the aquarium Industry. The Thai government has been very supportive of this industry and has encouraged research in both breeding and culture techniques. Most Amazon species look very attractive in a medium to large aquarium but, unfortunately, grow at an incredibly fast rate and often outgrow the aquarium environment in the first year. A lot of fish keepers in the past have transferred these fish into private ponds and continue to feed them as their pets to huge sizes. Over time breeding pairs are matched and many of these Amazon species are now bred and crossbred here in Thailand.
The recreational Thai fishing scene has grown in leaps and bounds over the last 10 years and with that these oversized aquarium specimens have found new homes. A whole industry has developed for exotic fish to stock in private ponds and fisheries with some of the more expensive costing over 5,000 USD each.
Other common river monsters that customers inquire about are the Siamese Carp and the Giant Mekong Catfish. These, along with many other Thai species, are found both in the wilds of Thailand and more commonly in fish farms and local growing ponds. Fish brokers usually have a network of ponds and farms which they utilise for stocks to sell to interested buyers.
Other species originating from outside Thailand and commonly grown here include Alligator Gar and Atlantic Tarpon from the USA, Tiger Fish and Vundu Catfish from Africa and several Chinese species, including Yellow Cheeked Carp and Chinese Black Carp – both of which can easily exceed an incredible 100 lbs (45kg) in weight.
One thing is for sure there are always new species for eager anglers to target here in this amazing country.