Agiant Mekong Catfish, known locally as Dtrei Reach, was caught in the Tonle Sap
last week - if it hadn't been netted it might still be alive.
The Fisheries Department bought the piscene gargantuan from the fishing lot owner
where it was caught so it could be preserved and studied.
The rare catch was snagged by nets just north of the Japanese Bridge in Phnom Penh
- if it had made it to the Mekong it would have been away free.
While they are fearsome looking, the toothless fish live on algae and insect larvae
according to the book "Fish of the Cambodian Mekong."
Ly Kim Han, director of the Fisheries Department, said that they have a policy of
buying such specimens at above market rates so that people catching them will notify
He said a few other giant catfish had been caught in the same fishing lot and the
department was now considering revoking the area's license so that no more fish of
that size are caught there.
Very few giant catfish end up in fishing nets - of those that do many are released
in the belief it will bring good luck to the liberator.
Sek Ngoun, 56, owns a fishing lot near to the one in which the latest catch was made.
He said he had caught four of the giant fish since 1979 but he had released all of
them. He said his neighbor had caught three this year, but they all died.
He said the biggest he had caught was 250 kg and before he released it he performed
a ceremony offering the fish a roasted pig's head and chicken because he believed
he had caught the king of the fish.
He said during the ceremony he asked the king of the fish to send him lots of smaller
fish in exchange for releasing the monarch and he believes it has worked.
"This was the king of the fish so it was powerful and I hoped that after I released
this king fish I would get more fish for my business," he said, laughing.
More seriously, Ngoun said he believed the giant fish were connected with fortune
because traders who tried to export such fish often had unexplained accidents while
he had had good luck every time he let one go.