10 Best Fish To Grow To Eat And To Sell In Thailand
The health benefits of fish are well-known, and this style of is becoming ever more popular. While fishing in Thailand is a great activity that many people enjoy for fun, there is no denying that fishing is also a sensible way to feed yourself and your loved ones, and it can even be a way to generate income to help you care for the people you love.
If you are considering this option when it comes to fish in Thailand, it is helpful to be aware of the best fish to grow to eat and sell in Thailand. We will look at the most common fish in greater detail, seeing as these are the most popular options, and the options that there is most agreement on how to best care for these fish. We will also consider a number of options which are grown to eat and sell in Thailand.
Tilapia Nile ปลานิล (pla nin) and Tilapia Red - ปลาทับทิม (pla thabthim)
You might be surprised to hear that after carp and salmon, Tilapia is the third most common fish in aquaculture. This is an extremely common fish in Thailand, with the Nile Tilapia representing around three quarters of all farmed tilapia.
If you are looking for a fish that is easy to grow, there is a lot to be said for choosing this option. With a diet that can consists of both animal and vegetable items, as well as plankton and algae, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to care for this style of fish.
You will also find that the tilapia is able to subsist on a low quality of feed, so it is not as if you need to pay for food with a high nutritional content to protect any investment you have.
By feeding the fish twice a day, early in the morning and the evening, you can develop an easy to maintain routine that delivers the best results. It is also common for some tilapia farmers to utilise insects as a way of providing protein for this fish.
A handy way to achieve this is to utilise lighting above the pond, attracting insects to the area, ensuring your fish can feed throughout the night.
If you are focused on finances and want to enjoy the best return on your investment, you should follow the process of many fish farmers in Thailand by only retaining male tilapia beyond the grow out stage.
The male species of the fish grows larger, and it takes less time and effort to achieve a suitable outcome. This cannot be said for the female of the species, and many famers will not hold female tilapia once they reach the growing out stage.
While you should always pay attention to the quality of water levels, you will find tilapia can survive in dissolved oxygen levels of around 4mg/l. Tilapia can survive at an even lower standard of water quality, but it is best to avoid taking that risk.
When it comes to the pH levels of water for tilapia, anything above 6.5 is recognised as a good standard, as this promotes algae growth, and this helps to ensure the fish are well fed.
Tilapia are recognised as preferring temperatures around 25ºc.
When it comes to the density of stocking tilapia, a few aspects need to be considered, and this is an area where trial and error is likely to provide you with the best results.
If you stock the fish to a dense level, you run the risk of creating an environment where the fish are unhealthy and their growth can be impacted. However, if you stock the fish to a low level, this is likely to create an aggressive atmosphere in the fish, which is best avoided.
When it comes to going to market with tilapia, there is a varied level of demand, because there is a considerable level of personal taste and preferences. There is nothing wrong with going to market for any level of fish weighing in at 400 to 900 grams.
There will be consumers who opt for the smaller fish, which is very tasty when fried. However, there will always be consumers looking for larger fish, and these are extremely useful when making soups, or feeding a number of people at the same time.
How long does it take for tilapia to grow to harvest size?
While the time it takes to bring any fish to a harvestable size depends on many factors, it is not unreasonable to expect the process to take between 4 and 6 months.
Many farmers start to review their stock from the four-month level, and you might decide it is best to remove the smaller fish at this point, focusing your money and time on the larger fish.
Walking catfish ปลาดุก (pla duk)
If you have spent any amount of time in Thailand, it is likely you will be familiar with the walking catfish. This is an extremely common fish, that is available a low price, and which is commonly prepared and sold by street vendors. It is a delicacy that can be enjoyed grilled or fried, and there is no denying it is an extremely tasty dish, and the demand for it means it is natural that some people will consider growing it.
With the walking catfish being able to breathe air, there is an opportunity to stock it more densely than the tilapia. This is an omnivorous fish which consumes weeds as well as smaller fish, invertebrates and molluscs.
The walking catfish has an immense appetite, and it is best that you don’t stick it alongside other fish, because they are more than capable of consuming large amounts of food. This could hamper the progress of other fish in the same location, so if you can store this style of fish together, it will make sense to do so.
This style of fish is also known for escaping, so you will want to keep a close eye on it. The walking catfish, as the name suggests, has been known to capitalise on rainy sessions, jumping and crawling out of ponds.
You will find the walking catfish is able to survive in dissolved oxygen levels of around 4mg/l. In fact, the walking catfish can survive at an even lower standard of water quality, but you shouldn’t take the risk of allowing dissolved oxygen levels to drop much lower.
When it comes to the pH levels of water for walking catfish, anything above 6.5 is recognised as a good standard, as this promotes algae growth, and this helps to ensure the fish are well fed.
Walking catfish are recognised as preferring temperatures around 25ºc. You should also avoid stocking this style of fish too densely, as this will impact on their ability to grow.
If you are heading to market with this style of fish, it is best to consider your consumer. Breeders are looking for larger walking catfish, around the 600 grams level, as this helps them to maximise profits. However, if you are focused on the end consumer, walking catfish of around 300 grams is the best option, as this is what is preferred by the mass market.
How long does it take for the walking catfish to grow to harvest size?
You should be able to complete the growing process to market in around three to five months. The three-month mark is a good point to review the growth of the walking catfish, and you can consider removing smaller fish from your efforts.
Other fish you can consider growing to eat and sell in Thailand include:
Striped Catfish - ปลาสวาย (Pla Sawai)
The striped catfish is found in the Mekong River basin & Chao Phraya River basin and will normally feed on plants, weeds, algae, crustaceans and insects.
Snakehead - ปลาช่อน (pla chon)
When it comes to feeding the snakehead, you have a number of options at your disposal with frogs and fish on the menu alongside insects, crustaceans and detritus.
Chinese Big Head Carp - ปลา จีน (Pla Jean)
The Chinese Big-Headed Carp, as the name suggests is native to China, but is a common fish in Thailand, and it prefers a warm river. This style of fish commonly feds on debris located at the lower layers of water, and this style of fish also eats algae and invertebrates.
You should avoid placing this fish in with other types of fish, it is definitely a fish that prefers to stick to its own kind.
Gourami – (Pla Let)
This freshwater fish can breathe out of water longer than many other fish, and it has a big appetite. It will eat plants, weeds, earthworms, fish and frogs, not to mention any dead animals it comes across. If you plan on growing this style of fish, be sure to feed it regularly.
The gourami’s ability to breathe air means it can survive well when oxygen levels are low in the water. You will commonly find it in swamps, lakes and rivers.
Swai catfish – (Pla Sawai)
Despite the name, the Swai catfish isn’t technically a catfish, and you shouldn’t associate it with that style of fish. The swai is a freshwater fish, most commonly found in the Mekong River and Chao Phraya River.
This is a really easy fish to breed, and while they are found in aquariums all over the world, it is muddy freshwater ponds that they call home.
Siamese carp – (Pla Caho)
The Siamese carp is a freshwater fish that exists on a diet of algae, fruits, aquatic plants, worms, insects, and seafood such as crabs, shrimps and prawns.
Catla carp – (Caho India)
This freshwater fish survives on algae and zooplankton, so it has a rather simple diet to maintain.
Java barb - ตะเพียน (Ta-phian)
This is a fish that has some commercial use, either being ground down to be used as a spice, or used to make a fish called som pla, which contains garlic and rice. This isn’t a dish that is suited to Western palates!
Therefore, there isn’t a great deal of commercial activity surrounding this style of fish, but they can be grown for personal consumption. This is a simple fish to breed, and are even useful for managing excessive vegetation.