Singaporeans are known for a lot of things like being kiasu (afraid to lose), speaking Singlish, behaving orderly, affinity to queuing, etc. There is one thing I like best is the humour. Singaporeans can make jokes at almost anything including fishing. Here is a list of fish nicknames that Singaporeans gave.
Everyone knows this brand of shoe because this is sort of the official white school shoes in Singapore. It is white and has a standard shoe print.
And this is why Remora fish got it's nickname - look at the remarkably resemblance of the 'print' on it's forehead with Singapore's official school shoes.
It actually uses that 'Bata shoe print' as a suction to stick itself onto bigger sea creatures such as sharks or whales. And in local context, sea turtles. There are many sea turtles in Singapore waters though we wonder where they can find a place to lay their eggs. Whenever we see sea turtles swimming around, there will be a high chance that we can catch a Bata during the Novice Angler's Course.
This is one of the most common fish you can catch during the Beginner Angler's Course. We are not really sure how this Butterfly Whiptail got its banana nickname but we guess that it is because of that yellow strip on its body plus it curves its body like a banana?
Or it tastes like a banana? You will have to ask our favourite student of the academy - Purrie, to find out. Because there are only two things in her life - Sleeping
And munching on fresh banana from the sea.
Yes, you did not hear wrongly. That is your Indian friend's name, and now you know it is also the nickname for Indian Grouper.
How this nickname comes about is self explanatory but why Arumugam was chosen instead of Kumar or Bala? Perhaps it was Arumugam who caught the first Arumugam in Singapore and named it after him.
Some fish facts about Arumugam. They are commonly found at rocky seabeds and are extremely greedy. We had seen it trying to swallow a live fish that was half it's size but we managed to save Arumugam from choking by pulling the live fish out from it's mouth.
This disinfectant is so commonly used in Singapore toilets to kill germs that it is hard to imagine that it can be associated with food i.e. fish. I first came across this word when I started fishing 30 years ago. Dettols were in abundance and easy to catch. But my friends would always tell me, 'Release that Dettol because after you steamed it, your whole kitchen will smell like Dettol!' This really sounds unappetizing and potentially life threatening if we are to eat this Saw-Jawed Monocle Bream.
So we started the 'monkey see, monkey do' tradition of releasing all the Dettols until one fine day when my dad decided to give this fish a try.
It turns out that this fish actually tastes very good provided that it is processed properly before cooking. The unpleasant smell comes mainly from the stomach. So if the stomach is cleaned
thoroughly, Dettol tastes as good as any other food.
This is the fish after transformation by the chef from Republic Singapore Yacht Club. The Wharf Restaurant offers to cook live fish for anglers in Hong Kong steam, Teochew steam, Sweet and Sour, etc. The chef has amazing culinary skills to convert any fish with any kind of meat texture to something that can please your palate.
If you are drooling now and wandering what the experience is like, you can actually try it out yourself here -> https://www.wadventures.com.sg/fish-your-dinner
5) Miss Wong
Wong is one of the Chinese surnames written as '黄' which also means yellow in English. Now take a quick peek at the fish photo below, close your eyes and think of a colour.
I guess that the colour that you are thinking of is yellow, isn't it? These Indian Snappers come in schools and can be commonly found near structures. Because they do not grow big, and they maintain their petite and sexy figure, we usually call them Miss Wong instead of Mrs Wong. Some people use Mdm Wong though.
We figure you might ask why Indian Snappers do not have an Indian nickname like Indian Groupers? The answer is obvious - because it is yellow!
This is the Malay word for peanut, and also the nickname for Yellow Tail Barracuda. This nickname is not for the Black Tail Barracuda, or the Great Barracuda but only specifically for the Yellow Tail one.
Frankly, we do not know why this fish is called Kacang. All the Malays call them by this name and so everyone simply follows.
7) Ah Seng
Ah Seng is a very common name among the Chinese. In fact it is so common that the Chinese uses Ah Seng to describe any Tom, Dick and Harry. Which means ordinary people whom you will easily forget.
This poor Sea Catfish, which anglers consider as a pest due to their abundance, venomous spikes and slimy skin, is therefore named Ah Seng - meaning something which is ordinary and a nuisance.
8) Sam Po Kong
There is a Chinese temple which was actually named after a legendary fish called Sam Po Kong. According to legend, during one of Admiral Cheng Ho (Sam Po)'s trip to Southeast Asia, his ship encountered a leak and a Queenfish was accidentally caught in the hole and stopped the leak in the hull.
Admiral Cheng Ho saved the fish which saved his boat but he left his finger marks behind on the fish body. So all the Queenfish are swimming around with prominent five finger print lookalike birth marks on their bodies.
Now that you have familiarised with the local fish nicknames, it is time to put on your Bata, go ask your friends, Arumugam, Ah Seng and Miss Wong, to come along. Don't forget to bring some bananas and kacang as snacks when you all go fishing, and wash your hands with Dettol before you eat your catch - Teochew steam Sam Po Kong.