The ocean is not the only place that you can find gigantic fish that might make you want to put the fishing pole down for retirement. Behemoth fish can be found hiding inside our murky freshwater rivers and lakes as well.
Although the typical freshwater fish is smaller than its counterpart in the saltwater oceans, there are a select few that can grow to enormous sizes.
After taking a look at these freshwater giants, it might make you look at bodies of fresh water a bit differently. Here’s a list of the 10 biggest freshwater fish in the world:
1. Beluga Species
The beluga is a part of the sturgeon family and it is number one on the list of largest freshwater fish. Despite sharing the same name, the freshwater beluga bears no relation with the beluga whale. Belugas are a species of sturgeon that can grow to monstrous size – partly because their lifetime can last as long as 118 years, during which they never stop growing.
The largest beluga recorded was 24 feet long and 3,460 pounds. The sad fact is that these large belugas are now growing old and becoming increasingly rare. This is due to the heavy fishing for this species.
The Beluga is the species of fish that creates the caviar that we consider a delicacy worldwide. Beluga caviar is scarce and expensive. Due to the fact that this fish is now critically endangered, beluga caviar is even more expensive now than before.
2. Giant Freshwater Stingray
This is a certain species of the stingray that may frighten you a bit once you learn about it. The giant freshwater stingray is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world, weighing between 1,100 pounds and 1,300 pounds.
Unfortunately, the number of these fish are dwindling rapidly due to overfishing and frequent habitat loss. It is currently in danger of extinction. In Thailand the giant freshwater stingray is considered critically endangered.
The giant freshwater stingray is capable of pulling a boat underwater if there is enough tension in the line you are trying to catch it with. They are known for burying themselves under large quantities of mud while caught on a line.
3. Alligator Gar
The alligator gar is a streamlined fish that has a flat head and may look like an alligator at first glance. The alligator gar is the largest of the gar species. It can grow to over ten feet long and weigh in at over 300 pounds. They are an aggressive looking species, yet there are no known attacks against people.
4. White Sturgeon
The White Sturgeon is a freshwater fish species who plays an important role in British Columbia’s social heritage and culture. It is the largest sturgeon species in all of North America and is also considered the largest freshwater species in all of North America. Recently a white sturgeon was caught in British Columbia that was almost 4 meters in length and believed to weigh ½ a ton.
The white sturgeon has an extremely long lifespan. Some of them have lived to over 100 years of age. This means that they were alive before British Columbia was even a part of Canada. White sturgeon are capable of spawning many times during their lifespan. Due to their long lifespan, white sturgeon grow slowly and do not spawn until the males are over 14 years old and the females are over 18 years old.
5. Bull Shark
You can find the bull shark in warm oceans and on coastal areas. You can also find them in freshwater streams if they are deep enough.
Female bull sharks are larger than males. At birth, they can be up to 3 feet long. Adults average about 8 feet long. The largest recorded weight of a bull shark was 690 pounds. This is one of the largest freshwater fish species.
The bull shark is said to be a super aggressive species. They often lurk in shallow beaches and display aggressive behavior.
It was once thought that the paddlefish species would dig vegetation from the bottom of rivers and lakes with their snouts.
There was a time when paddlefish were found in abundant quantities in the United States river systems. But due to overharvesting, their population has declined significantly. A major reason for the declining number of Paddlefish is the amount of dams that we build on our rivers. These dams block their migration routes which is very important for a paddlefish to spawn and grow healthily.
Catfish are bottom feeders. They are the best at doing what they do at the bottom of the lake. Some of the largest catfish have had sizes recorded upwards of 500 pounds. You can find catfish in freshwater environments typically in shallow spots of running water.
8. Nile Perch
Nile Perch is a freshwater fish species that belongs to the Latidae family of Perciformes. It is native to the Nile, Congo, Senegal, and Niger river (as well as other river basins that I didn’t mention). This perch is silver but it has a unique blue tinge to it. You will notice its distinct black eyes that have a bright yellow ring on the outer rim.
The Nile perch is one of the biggest freshwater fish in the world, reaching a length of over 6 feet in some instances. The largest of these fish weigh over 400 pounds.
You can find carp across the world in many freshwater bodies. Carp can grow extremely large. Carp are a number of different species of freshwater fish that belong to the family Cyprinidae, which is a large group of fish that originated in Europe and Asia.
The Catla carp (also known as the Indian carp), has the longest maximum length which is 182 centimeters. The closest behind this carp is the Grass carp which has a maximum length of 150 centimeters.
10. Siberian Taimen
Also known as the Siberian Salmon, the Siberian Taimen is a species of fish belonging to the Salmonidae family of the Salmoniformes order.
This fish is found in a different color depending on where you’re at geographically, but you will typically find them appearing olive green on the head which blends into a red-brownish hue on the tail. Some of their fins are dark red and the belly is usually white but sometimes can appear dark grey.
The Taimen is the largest salmon in the entire world. These fish are caught and reported to weight between 33 and 60 pounds when they are fully mature. The largest reliably reported size of a Siberian salmon is 231 pounds and 83 inches long. This was caught in the Kotui river in Russia.