A fish-lover’s guide to Bangkok, and a bit beyond.

Photos by Margarita Hermoso

How does one become an avid fish enthusiast?” That’s the most common reaction I get from people who don’t understand my passion for taking care of fish. And while I don’t have a single straight answer for this, I think I can compare it to love at first sight—and my love for it doesn’t diminish but continues to build up slowly over time.

As a self-proclaimed “fish addict,” I wasn’t content just going to local shows or keeping fish; I wanted to travel and see what fish addicts do in other countries. After my first trip to Singapore with fellow PALHS hobbyists, we wanted to learn more, so we decided our next trip should be to Thailand.

In Bangkok, be sure to first check out what’s reputed to be Southeast Asia’s biggest aquarium, Siam Ocean World on Rama Road 1. Sprawled over 10,000 square meters, it features an acrylic tank under an ocean tunnel with a 270 degree view; a panoramic oceanarium with a 360 degree view throughout a 10.5 meter diameter fishbowl, and a reef tank 8 meters deep. Over 400 species of marine and freshwater animals are displayed here, including the blue ringed octopus, gray nurse sharks, giant spider crabs, Mekong stingrays over 15 feet long, the rare Mekong catfish, Siamese carp that grow up to 5 feet in length, and giant arapaimas.

130 kilometers outside Bangkok, an approximately two-hour drive away, is a small town in Kanchanaburi with a few small breeding farms which we were able to access thanks to friends Preecha Ammara and Sun Dee. They gave us a tour of their new facilities and took us to the Momotaro Koi farm in nearby Ratchaburi. Further south of Bangkok, about four and a half hours out, is Phetchabun, where Mark Sirikiat and Kawen Ngernanek took us to see AA Aquatic Farms, which has an extensive array of black diamond stingrays as well as unique hybrids and the much sought-after Siamese tigers.

Near Phetchabun is Guillen’s Aquatic Farm and Resort, which features monster fish, has accommodations for tourists, a good collection of macaws, and gaming facilities. We got to see how they catch monster fish; as a precaution, workers are required to wear helmets. On rare occasions, guests can do the same if they want to join the harvest of the giant fish or the large river stingrays, but these fish can really knock people down and cause serious damage, such as concussions or broken ribs.

Your Thailand adventure will be incomplete if you skip going to the famous Chactuchack Weekend Market near the Bangkok Bus Terminal in Mo Chit 2. Hugely popular with locals and tourists alike, all the fish you might want are available to your heart’s content; talk about a fish hobbyist’s paradise!

This appeared in Animal Scene’s December 2015 issue.