Striped catfish (plaa sawai) – The first fish you’ll catch in Thailand

English name: Striped catfish, Iridescent shark.

Scientific name: Pangasius hypohthalmus.

Thai name: Plaa sawai (ปลาสวาย).

Description: This freshwater catfish’s true name is the iridescent shark but it is commonly referred in the English speaking community as the striped catfish because “iridescent shark” just sounds  like the two weirdest words to put into any sentence.

The striped catfish is neither a shark but it is iridescent. Its smooth scaleless skin reflects light the same way a pearl does with the colours ranging from grey to purple. Like the Mekong giant catfish, the striped catfish is also from the pangasiidae family however they don’t grow nearly as big and their heads don’t look like penis knobs.

The striped catfish’s head is more pointy. Though not as big as the Mekong it still does grow up to around 50-150cm and anywhere from 5-40kg.

Unlike its gigantic cousin, ol’ stripey here is far from endangered and they are everywhere. In fact, for most anglers, this will be the first fish they would land at fishing ponds due to their high abundance and biting speed. They are also omnivorous feeding mostly on crustaceans, small fish and plant matter.

How to catch them: there are many ways to catch these guys. People either use bread and/or wheat germ as bait. Strangely enough, bananas are also quite popular.

Tastiness: The striped catfish is farmed for its white meat. It’s pretty tasty and can be prepared in a variety of menus ranging from curries to stir fries.


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