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Funny Nicknames for Local Saltwater Fish that you have to know


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.


1. What is a Bata fish?


The fins on top of the Remora fish, also known as a suckerfish, bear a striking resemblance to the print found on Bata shoes, which are widely recognized as the official white school shoes in Singapore. This is why the Remora fish has earned its nickname the "Bata fish" in Singapore. This pattern, which is actually a series of scales, has evolved to help the fish attach itself to larger marine animals and conserve energy while travelling through the water.

Fun facts about Remora

  1. Remoras have been known since ancient times and were believed to stop ships from sailing, hence the name "remora" which means "delay" in Latin

  2. Remoras are not parasitic animals and do not harm the animals they attach themselves to. Instead, they feed off scraps of food that are left over after their host has eaten, and they may also eat the host's faeces

  3. In some cultures, Remora fish are considered to have medicinal properties and are used to treat a variety of ailments, such as asthma and tuberculosis

2. Why Butterfly Whiptail is known as Banana fish?

The Butterfly Whiptail fish is often referred to as the "banana fish," although the reason behind this nickname is not entirely clear. However, some experts speculate that the yellow stripe along its body and the fish's tendency to curve its body like a banana may have contributed to the nickname.

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.


Fun facts about Banana fish

  1. In Hawaiian culture, Banana fish are known as "Hinalea" and are believed to be a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

  2. Banana fish are capable of changing color to match their surroundings, making them even more difficult to spot.

  3. The Banana fish is an excellent swimmer, and can even swim backwards.

3. Is Arumugam a fish or a person?

Indian Grouper is also known as Arumugam fish, which takes its name from the common South Indian name "Arumugam". It is unclear how the fish got its name, but it is believed that an individual named Arumugam may have caught the first Arumugam fish in Singapore and named it after himself. The fish is highly regarded for its firm, white meat, which is similar in texture and flavour to the popular sea bass.

Fun facts about Indian Grouper

  1. In traditional Chinese medicine, the gallbladder of the Indian Grouper is believed to have medicinal properties and is used to treat various ailments.

  2. The Indian Grouper is classified as a near-threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to overfishing and habitat destruction.

  3. Indian Grouper is a protogynous hermaphrodite, which means that it is born female and later changes sex to become male.

4. Why do anglers avoid Dettol fish?

The Saw-Jawed Monocle Bream is also known as the Dettol fish due to its association with the popular disinfectant used in Singaporean toilets. While Dettol is a common household name, it may be surprising to learn that it is also linked to the local cuisine in the form of this fish. Anglers have reported catching large numbers of Dettols, but their friends warned them against consuming the fish, as it would leave a strong Dettol scent in the kitchen after cooking. As a result, the fish became known as the Dettol fish, and many people opted to release them back into the water.

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.


Fun facts about Dettol fish

  1. Saw-Jawed Monocle Bream fish is a source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

  2. The fish has a distinct saw-like jaw structure that helps it feed on hard-shelled prey like crabs and snails.

  3. This fish has another interesting adaptation: a special layer of cells in its skin that can produce a weak electrical field, which it uses to sense the movements of its prey.

5. How Indian Snappers become Miss Wong?

Indian Snappers are known as Mrs Wong, or sometimes Miss Wong or Mdm Wong, because of their yellow color which is associated with the Chinese surname Wong, written as '黄'. The fish are commonly found in schools near structures and are known for maintaining their petite and sleek figure even as they grow older.

Fun facts about Indian Snappers

  1. Indian Snappers are known to change color depending on their mood, ranging from bright yellow to pale grey.

  2. They are able to produce sounds using their swim bladder to communicate with other fish.

  3. In Chinese medicine, Indian Snappers are believed to help boost blood circulation and promote overall health. In India, Indian Snappers is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

6. Why Yellow Tail Barracuda is known as Ikan kachang in Malay?

Yellow Tail Barracuda is a fish species that is commonly referred to as "Ikan kacang" in Malay, which literally translates to "peanut fish". The origin of this nickname is a mystery, but it is believed to have something to do with the fish's skin texture resembling that of a peanut shell. Interestingly, this nickname is exclusively used for the Yellow Tail Barracuda and not for other types of barracudas. Despite its uncertain origin, this nickname has been widely embraced and commonly used by Malaysians and Singaporeans.

Fun facts about Yellow Tail Barracudas

  1. Yellow Tail Barracudas have a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good health.

  2. Yellow Tail Barracudas are considered a delicacy and are served in high-end restaurants.

  3. In Chinese traditional medicine, the gall bladder of the fish is believed to have medicinal properties that can help treat eye problems and reduce inflammation. The fish is also used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat a range of health issues, including rheumatism and joint pain.

7. How Ah Seng durian is related to Ah Seng fish?

Sea Catfish is commonly referred to as Ah Seng fish, a name derived from the very common Chinese name "Ah Seng". The term is often used to describe an ordinary and forgettable person, and unfortunately, this fish is no exception. Anglers usually consider the Sea Catfish a pest due to its abundance, venomous spikes, and slimy skin, which adds to the negative connotation of the fish.

There's even a joke among locals that the boss of Ah Seng Durian has a new favorite fish? It's the Sea Catfish, also known as Ah Seng Fish! I guess he just can't get enough of things that are slimy and prickly.


Fun facts about Sea Catfish

1. Some species of sea catfish are able to produce a venom from glands located in their spines for protection against predators.

2. Sea catfish have been known to produce sounds, such as grunting or croaking, by vibrating their swim bladder.

3. Sea catfish are able to survive in waters with low oxygen levels by gulping air at the surface of the water.

8) Sam Po Kong, Tua Pek Kong or Queenie?

According to legend, the Queenfish has five distinct spots on its sides that are said to be the fingerprints of the deity Tua Pek Kong, who is considered the God of Prosperity. The story tells of a ship carrying Chinese passengers that was on the brink of sinking. However, Tua Pek Kong heard their prayers and sent a large fish to prevent water from flooding into the ship. As a result, the fish's body had five black spots left on it, which were passed down to all of its descendants. Many Chinese people believe that consuming this fish would be disrespectful to Tua Pek Kong and the fish that saved the passengers, and thus avoid eating it as a way to express their gratitude.

Continuing the story, there are variations of this legend where the main character is not Tua Pek Kong but instead the Queen of England or Admiral Cheng Ho (Sam Po Kong). In these variations, the fish with the five spots is believed to have saved their ship during a storm or attack, and the spots on its body are seen as a symbol of protection. Regardless of the variation, the five spots on the fish's body have become a sacred symbol for many and eating this fish is seen as disrespectful to the deity or person who saved them.

Fun facts about Queenfish

  1. Queenfish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health.

  2. Queenfish are known for their strong, bold flavor, making them a popular choice for seafood lovers.

  3. Queenfish are known to jump out of the water when hooked, making for an exciting fishing experience.



Why do we have to learn the nicknames of local saltwater fish?


The local fish nicknames hold a rich cultural significance and are deeply rooted in the history and traditions of the communities. From auspicious beliefs to interesting facts and uses in traditional medicine. 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.


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