Thailand is home to a collection of both freshwater and saltwater fish species. Freshwater species are found in lakes and rivers including the Chao Phraya River System, Mekong River System, and Salween River System, while saltwater fish species are found in the ocean. The country has over 2,300 species of fish with around 1,500 saltwater species and 800 freshwater species. 20 species of fish are endemic to the country while 22 species have been introduced into the both the freshwater and the saltwater. Some of the native fish of Thailand are looked at below.
Native Fish Of Thailand
The brown tang, Zebrasoma scopas, also commonly referred to as the twotone, is a marine reef tang belonging to the family Acanthuridae. The species is found in the ocean and is popular in the aquarium trade. The brown tang has a deep compressed body with a protruding snout which can grow to around 40 centimeters. It has a whitish head and a pale brown body with a dark brown-black tail. An adult brown tang has a white spine on its caudal peduncle while the dorsal fin typically has five spines and 24 soft rays. The juvenile species are paler with a yellowish bar at the anterior end. The brown tang is herbivorous, and it has specialized pharyngeal teeth which help it to efficiently feed on algae.
The Horseface Loach, Acantopsis dialuzona, is a freshwater fish species in the Loach family. It is native to the clear streams and rivers of the Southeast Asia. The horseface loach is a bottom dwelling fish who buries itself in the bottom fine sand living only its eyes uncovered but a swift swimmer. It has a dorsal fin on its back and lack teeth instead it has pharyngeal teeth in the throat. The horseface loach is an important source of food for most families in Asia and Europe. It is also important in the aquarium fish trade. Habitat destruction, overfishing, and water pollution are the major threats posed to the horseface loach in Thailand.
The Yellow-Tail Barracuda, Sphyraena flavicauda, is a Barracuda in the family Sphyraenidae. It is a saltwater fish that is fearsome in appearance and large in body size, and has cruel behavior. It is found living close to the surface of the water. The Yellow-Tail Barracuda has a snake-like appearance with a length of up to 60 centimeters with sharp fang-like teeth. Its head is large and pointed while the gills have no spines and are covered with small scales. The dorsal fins are separated, and the anterior fin has five spines while the posterior fin has one spine. The lateral line is visibly extending from the head to the tail. The body has brown longitudinal stripes with a yellow caudal fin. The Yellow-Tail Barracuda feeds entirely on other fish. They are scavengers and dangerous to swimmers but are popular food and game fish.
Major Threats to Fish in Thailand
The high demand for a number of specific varieties of fish has led to overfishing of both freshwater and saltwater fish in and around Thailand. The overfishing has greatly reduced the population of most of the fish species. Disposal of waste material into the water bodies leading to water pollution has caused suffocation and death of several tons of fish further reducing the fish population. Other threats faced by fish species in the country include fishing of premature species and reseeding water levels caused by water overuse. The government of Thailand is implementing controlled fishing policies to discourage overfishing and the fishing of immature fish.