White and Black Fishes Species Supply Protein to Cambodians Almost Year Round

White fish species are caught by fishers in the floodplain in the Kampong Cham Province. Photo: Chhut Chhana

White fishes are fish species that migrate over long distances and spend most of their time living in rivers. Every year, the water level of the Mekong River rises and spills onto the floodplains, providing an opportunity for the fish to leave the river to feed and grow in these floodplain habitats.

Towards the end of the rainy season, the floodwaters begin to recede, and white fish species also leave the floodplains to return to the Mekong River, the habitat where they take refuge during the dry season and breed. White fish species include: Hemibagrus nemurus, Barbonymus altus, Eurygoss sp., Oxyeleotris marmorata, Pangasius hypophthalmus, Pangasius larnaudii, Wallago attu and Boesemania microlepis, among others.

A boy shows a fish caught in a pond in Peam Ro district, Prey Veng province. Photo: Chhut Chhana

The blackfish are species of fish that can live in the water lef tover from the flooding of the Mekong River in rice fields, lakes, ponds, and canals. In the dry season, the water warms as it evaporates and becomes more shallow, and also becomes cloudy due to various chemicals released from rotting plants.

The decay of the plants causes the water to become acidic and low in oxygen. Despite these water conditions, black fish species still can survive because many can breathe at the surface of the water and some can even move on land from one place to another in search of new water sources. Some species of fish can also bury themselves deep in the mud to wait for the next rainy season. These black fishes species include Anabas testudineus, Clarias batrachus, Ophisternon bengalense, Channa striata and Channa micropeltes among others.

A boy uses a Plunge Basket to catch fish in a rice field in Prey Chhor district, Kampong Cham province. Photo: Chhut Chhana

The different life cycle strategies of white fish and blackfish species help supply protein to the Cambodian people almost all year round, making them valuable sources of food security. So please take care of the different habitats that support these important fish species. Please share this post and follow Wonders of the Mekong to learn more about the Mekong River.

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