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Exotic Freshwater Species Found In Thailand

Exotic Freshwater Species Found In Thailand

You might have been on a fishing trip in Thailand before, but did you know that there are some exotic freshwater fish species waiting for you?

The Mekong river is one of the most popular places to go fishing in Thailand. There is a phenomenal number of freshwater fish species in Thailand.

No matter your level of experience or expertise, you should find you can pit your wits against a wide range of fish.

How many freshwater species are found in Thailand?

Analysis of the freshwater fish found in Thailand has returned 836 species. No matter how skilled an angler you are, you are unlikely to run out of options when it comes to fishing in this part of the world.

The vast majority of these species are native to Thailand, with 755 of the 836 species classed as being native to the country. Just 23 of the listed freshwater fish in Thailand have been introduced, which is a comfort for people who are not fans of fish being moved from their natural surroundings.

A further 34 species are classed as “questionable” or “not established”, so there might be more species which have been introduced to Thailand. However, it should be obvious that the vast majority of freshwater fish species found in Thailand are native to Thailand!

What are the exotic freshwater species you can fish in Thailand?

The following fish are fine examples of exotic freshwater species found in Thailand:

  • Arapaima

  • Catla Carp

  • Clown Featherback

  • Giant Featherback

  • Giant Gourami

  • Giant Snakehead

  • Goonch

  • Indochina (Striped) Featherback

  • Java Barb

  • Mekong Catfish

  • Rohu (Indian Carp)

  • Salween Rita Catfish

  • Tambaqui

  • Thai Mahseer

We’ve already looked at some of these fish in-depth on the carp or catfish pages, but there are some we haven’t considered in much detail as of yet. Therefore, we will consider some of the more exotic freshwater fish species in Thailand below.

The Arapaima

The Aripaima is not native to Thailand, but it is one of the most impressive and fierce fish found in Thailand of recent years. This is a fish which is capable of weighing up to 180kg, and it can reach close to three metres in length.

This is surely one of the most impressive looking fish in Thailand, and a perfect example of a freshwater fish which captures attention for all the right reasons.

Giant Gourami

The Giant Gourami is a species of large freshwater fish from Southeast Asia, and prefers to live in fresh water. This style of fish is recognised for its extremely slow movements, which makes them a great target for anglers.


The Goonch Catfish is a fearsome looking predator that has been featured in the media recently as one of Earth's deadliest creatures. The Goonch Catfish has a fearsome appearance with sharp teeth and is often referred to as the Devil Fish. It inhabits some of the most inhospitable waters on Earth, but it's been featured heavily in recent years due to its awe-inspiring predatory nature.

Salween Rita Catfish

The Salween catfish is a rare, seldom seen species of fish that can reach lengths up to two meters. This strange looking beast inhabits large rivers and feeds on small fishes as well as benthic organisms like oysters in the Mekong River Basin. Few fishermen will encounter this most unusual river catfish out there because it's such an uncommon sight!

However, if you dream of catching something unique, why shouldn’t you think about hunting this fish?


The Tambaqui (Taimen) is a predatory fish that has been introduced into Thailand's freshwater fishing lakes and ponds. It was originally caught as bait or while lure-fishing, but it soon became an established predator in these bodies of water due to its voracious appetite for anything small enough to fit through the gaps between their teeth.

Once you have mastered the steps to catching and identifying freshwater exotic fish, it is time to start reeling them in. All of the information you need for enjoying your new hobby can be found at Fishing In Thailand!

We offer articles on how to catch fresh water fish species like catfish and carp; advice on what bait will work best with each type of freshwater exotic species; a guide to equipment needed for fishing such as rods and nets.

If you’re interested in learning more about exotic freshwater fish in Thailand, or any fish at all, make sure you stay in touch with Fishing In Thailand.

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