Is Basa Fish Farm Raised? (Important Facts About Basa Fish)

By Matt Taylor  |  Species & Breeds

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Basa fish is a catfish species native to Southeast Asia. They occur naturally in the Chao Phraya and Mekong River basins. Basa fish is a sought-after edible species that is eaten all over the world. The international market is predominantly supplied by farm-raised rather than wild-caught fish.

Basa fish is among the most popular types of farmed fish in the world. Traditionally, Basa fish are farmed in pens or cages along rivers. These fish are well-suited to aquaculture as they can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, they grow quickly, and they are easy to harvest and process.

In its native habitat, Basa fish can be caught in the wild, but the vast majority of Basa fish on the market is farm-raised. In this article, we explain how Basa fish is farmed to supply the global market and why they are one of the top fish species in aquaculture.

Basa Fish Are Farm-Raised In Rivers

Basa fish has traditionally been farmed in Vietnam and Cambodia along the Mekong River. Small-scale local farmers raise Basa fish in pens or cages.

The fish enclosures are built in the river itself, taking advantage of the natural flow of the water. As a result, clean water from upstream flows into the cage, and water polluted with fish waste flows away downstream.

As the demand for Basa fish has increased, both in Southeast Asia and around the world, aquaculture techniques have changed to allow greater numbers of Basa fish to be farmed.

Large earthen ponds are built parallel to rivers so that the natural flow can supply clean water and get rid of polluted water. Basa fish are raised in these ponds at very high stocking rates.

How Is Basa Fish Farmed?

In earlier years, the large-scale production of Basa fish was limited because fingerlings had to be wild-caught and transferred to ponds to be grown out. A technique was developed in the 90s that revolutionized their controlled reproduction in captivity.

Hormonal treatment is used to force Basa fish to release eggs and sperm. Then, the fertilized eggs are spread over spawning mats in hatching tanks. If the eggs are kept at 75 to 80 degrees F, they hatch in as little as 24 hours.

Fingerlings grow extremely rapidly. In just 40 days, they reach 1.5 to 2 inches long. They feed on zooplankton and powdered fish feed.

Once fingerlings reach 1.5 to 3.5 ounces, they are transferred to grow-out cages, pens, or ponds. They are kept at very high stocking rates of between 10 to 20 pounds per cubic meter.

Basa fish is omnivorous, so the fish pellets they are fed contain plant matter and animal protein. The fish also feed on zooplankton that naturally occurs in the river.

Basa fish take 6 to 8 months to reach table size. They are harvested when they get around 3 pounds in size.

Where Are Basa Fish Farmed?

While Basa fish is a species eaten all over the world, it is mainly farmed in southeast Asia. Basa fish is native to the Chao Phraya and Mekong River basins, and therefore, these areas are predominantly where the species is farmed.

Basa fish are farmed in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, and Mexico. Vietnam is by far the largest producer and exporter of Basa fish globally, followed by India and Mexico.

Because Basa fish do not tolerate water temperatures below 57 degrees F for extended periods, they can only be farmed in tropical regions where winters do not get too cold.

Why Is Basa Fish So Popular?

Basa fish is a popular eating fish in North America, Australia, and Europe. But why is it more popular than other types of fish?

Because of how easy Basa fish is to farm and harvest, the meat is very competitively priced. Even as an exported product, it is cheaper than other fish species.

Basa fish is a cheaper alternative to haddock or cod in the United Kingdom. In the United States, it is a cheaper alternative to the native US catfish. The fish meat has a similar taste and texture to whitefish, haddock, and cod.

The main reason for Basa fish’s popularity worldwide is its low price. Therefore, for the mass market, it is an excellent source of cheap protein.

People generally like to eat Basa fish because the meat is white, firm, and has a mild flavor. It is not overly “fishy” and therefore appeals to most people. Many people say that they prefer the flavor of Basa fish to other types of farmed fish that tend to be “fishier.”

Basa fish is healthy to eat as the meat is low in calories, high in protein, and contains essential omega-3 fatty acids. A single 4.5-ounce serving of Basa fish contains almost 0.8 ounces of protein and only 158 calories.




22.5 grams


7 grams

Saturated fat

2 grams


73 mg


0 grams


89 grams

Data Based on 4.5-Ounce Serving of Basa Fish (Source: Healthline)

As an aquaculture species, Basa fish are extremely popular because they yield over 4 times more when grown in ponds than other farmed fish. It is relatively easy to produce fingerlings and have a rapid growth rate.

Names For Basa Fish

The scientific name for Basa fish is Pangasius bocourti, but in supermarkets and restaurants around the world, this fish goes by many different names.

The scientific name for Basa fish is Pangasius bocourti, but in supermarkets and restaurants around the world, this fish goes by many different names.

In Asia, Basa fish is sometimes called Swai or Tra, but these names actually refer to a closely related fish species, Pangasius hypophthalmus. Pangasius bocourti is sold in Asian markets as Patin or Pacific Dory.

In Australia and the United States, Basa fish is often sold as Swai or Bocourti. In the United Kingdom, Basa fish is marketed as catfish, river cobbler, cobbler, basa, panga, and pangasius. In Europe, they are generally called Panga or Pangasius.


Because Basa fish can tolerate a range of water conditions and survive in low-quality water, it is a great candidate for aquaculture. In addition, they grow very quickly, can be kept at very high stocking rates, and because they are so easy to harvest and process, they have become one of the most popular farmed fish in the world.

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