Pangasius biology & history
A migratory catfish
Pangasius has a variety of common English names including Sutchi catfish, iridescent shark-catfish, and striped catfish. Pangasius is a highly migratory riverine fish species that makes long-distance migrations over several hundred kilometers between upstream refuge and spawning habitats and downstream feeding and nursery habitats. Pangasius is omnivorous, feeding on algae, higher plants, zooplankton, and insects, while larger specimens also take fruit, crustaceans and fish.
Up to 44 kg in weight
Mature fish can reach a maximum standard total length of 130 cm and up to 44 kg in weight. Females take at least three years to reach sexual maturity in captivity (being then over 3 kg in weight), while males often mature in their second year, probably taking about the same time in the wild. A mature 10 kg female can spawn over one million eggs.
The life cycle of Pangasius is tied to the annual monsoon flood cycle, with spawning taking place in May – June at the start of the monsoon season.
Native to Mekong
Pangasius is one of the major fish species in the Mekong River and a traditional fish on the menu in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Over the years, catch of the fish has been replaced by acquaculture, especially in Vietnam and to a lesser extent in Thailand and Cambodia. In Vietnam, farmers in the Mekong Delta have pursued the business of fish farming for decades and Pangasius is a main protein source for the local people.
From cages to ponds
The tradition of farming the fish in floating cages in the rivers has gradually been replaced by farming through fish ponds, taking water from the Mekong River and treating it to meet export standards.
Pangasius has been unknown to consumers in international markets for a long time. It is only since some 15 years that pangasius has been introduced to markets world-wide as an affordable, healthy choice. An ideal mix ‘n match fish that fits in every cuisine. It has become a very popular fish fillet.
Nowadays pangasius is exported to around 150 countries world-wide at a value close to USD 2 billion, providing a stable income source for millions of people in the whole region. Today, practically all leading supermarket chains in international markets have pangasius fillets in the assortment and the production of pangasius fillets complies to strict food safety standards and sustainability requirements to safeguard health and safety of consumers world-wide.