Bangkok Post reviews
The life aquatic
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: August 15, 2013 at 8:11 am
The Bung Chawak Aquarium boasts freshwater and marine fish from all over the world
A diver feeds fish in an 8.5m-long tank at Bung Chawak Aquarium, Suphan Buri.
Only about 160km northwest of Bangkok, Bung Chawak in Suphan Buri has almost everything for tourists to enjoy, ranging from a large aquarium, zoo and recreation zone to vegetable farms and a rice mill. A must-see is the Bung Chawak Aquarium, featuring freshwater and marine fish from all over the world. It was established in July 1996 and opened in February 1998 under a project in honour of His Majesty the King.
Building 1 features more than 50 types of freshwater and marine fish from Thailand and abroad. They include striped catfish, Mekong giant catfish, black ear catfish with black dots on cheeks, Chao Phraya giant catfish, aka freshwater sharks, love parrotfish with heart-shaped dots, sheatfish and common sheatfish. "Sheatfish are an indicator of water quality. If the water is not clean, none of them live there," an aquarium guide told a group of visitors.
Next are fish from the Amazon River, including alligator gar and Amazon red tail mystus. There are also fish from Thai rivers like mad carp and boeseman croaker. Mad carp, or sultan fish, love to eat thorn apple fruit that make them intoxicated, while boeseman croakers make noises like frogs to attract the opposite sex about 6pm to 8pm every day. The boeseman croaker is called pla ma in Thai because their upper fin looks like horses' hair. Next are various kinds of catfish, including arapaima. There are also giant gourami and more.
Also, there are marine animals like brownbanded bamboo shark and blacktip reef shark, which are not fierce but look for food on the ocean floor.
On the way to Building 2, visitors will find a zone featuring stuffed crocodiles and eggs, which reflect the stages of growth. No one can resist posing for pictures with a big stuffed crocodile and smiling. Building 2 has a glass tunnel with various kinds of freshwater fish. Highlights include a 400m3 aquarium tank, with an 8.5m-long transparent tunnel, where scuba divers feed the fish four times a day.
Stuffed crocodiles and eggs.
"This is Thailand's first freshwater fish tunnel. On special occasions and holidays, movie stars and singers will be invited to dive and feed fish inside this tunnel," the guide said. In addition, this building boasts 30 other aquarium tanks featuring freshwater fish and seven others containing beautiful sea fish.
No one should miss the newly-opened Building 3 featuring nearly 100 kinds of sea fish. Stepping into the building, visitors will see a 2.5m-wide and 5m-long pool with starfish, black sea cucumber, brownbanded bamboo sharks, bluespotted stingrays, hermit crabs and sea urchins inside for visitors to touch under staff guidance. Thailand's biggest and tallest cylindrical aquarium, which is 2m in diameter, 6.8m high and contains various kind of fish, including blue tang and yellow tang, is also here. Visitors will also be mesmerised by a 9m-high aquarium tank called The Open Sea. Taking an escalator alongside the tank, the visitors will see eagle rays, mangrove red snapper, blue-lined snapper, mackerel, wrasse, Napoleon Wrasse, freshwater batfish, black kingfish, snail eater pangasius and blacktip reef sharks. A moving walkway takes you through a tunnel featuring Queensland grouper, shark rays and sea turtles.
Next is a tank called Okinawa Blue, decorated to look similar to the sea of Okinawa, Japan, which contains cardinalfish, zebra danio, three-spot domino damselfish, parrotfish, tomato clownfish and several kinds of butterflyfish. A 25m tunnel called Coral Reef where large groups of puffer, butterflyfish, blue tang and more swim amid artificial corals.
The most exciting moment comes when visitors step into the Shark Tunnel and see nurse, leopard, blacktip reef, lemon and sleepy sharks swimming over their heads. Measuring 16m long and 5m wide, this is considered the world's widest aquarium tunnel.
The last stop is a tank which looks like a movie screen but instead shows several kinds of colourful fish. Decorated with pink corals and sea anemone, this tank is named Similan Cliff. Before bidding farewell to Bung Chawak, check out a pond covering three rai where 100 freshwater crocodiles, each 1.5m to 4m long, live. The Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant's Wildlife Management and Development Centre in the same compound is also worth seeing. The centre boasts a 25m-high aviary, cave-like areas for keeping tigers and lions, water birds, Siamese Fireback pheasant and rare birds. Another zone houses wallabies, giraffes, ostriches, zebras and camels. At the end of a long day, the area's slogan is perfect: "No visit to Bung Chawak means having not reached Suphan Buri yet."
Visitors gaze at the marine life in a tank called The Open Sea.
Bung Chawak Aquarium opens daily 8.30am-5pm on weekdays and 8.30am-6pm on weekends and holidays. Call 035-430-033.