Pristidae (sawfishes) Additionally, restaurants may not identify the type of fish in some dishes, so there’s a good chance you’ve eaten swai, even if you didn’t know it. Protein is incredibly important for your health, weight loss, and body composition. Wild vs Farmed Salmon: Which Type of Salmon Is Healthier? © 2005-2021 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. Such brands typically include the certifying agency’s logo on the package. Antibiotics Are Heavily Used During Production, A Sensible Approach to Swai and Better Alternatives, 11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Eating Fish. The healthiest fish to eat are the most sustainable fish with the most nutritional benefits. Antibiotics are commonly used to combat infections on crowded swai fish farms. Benefits Outweigh Risks. Sawfish rostra contain sensory organs which detect minute electrical signals from potential prey (fishes or crustaceans). It’s sometimes mislabeled and sold as higher-value fish. This article gives you the facts about swai fish, helping you decide if you should eat or avoid it. Swai is a white-fleshed, moist fish that has a firm texture and neutral flavor. If they’re overused and the bacteria become resistant to them, it could leave people without effective treatments for certain diseases (18, 21). In 2015 the smalltooth sawfish (P. pectinata) was observed to have the ability to reproduce via parthenogenesis (a condition in which an unfertilized egg develops into an embryo). Fact: Sawfish eat fish and crustaceans. In fact, swai production in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam is one of the largest freshwater fish farming industries worldwide (3). Swai fish is both affordable and pleasant tasting. Swai fish has a mediocre nutritional profile and may best be avoided. Listed below are the five species found in Australia Dwarf/Queensland sawfish (Pristis clavata) - listed as Vulnerable and Migratory under the EPBCAct 1. What Is Swai and Where Does It Come From? Cook fish to an internal temperature of 145℉ (62.8℃) to destroy potentially harmful bacteria, such as Vibrio. These 9 high-risk foods are the most likely to cause food poisoning. Updated November 16, 2018. Moreover, if a type of fish isn’t identified, such as if you’re ordering a fish sandwich at a restaurant that doesn’t specify the type of fish, it could be swai. The sawfish can use the rostrum on their teeth, which can help to stun the fishes so that it is easy to eat them. For fish packed with omega-3s, some of your best options that don’t contain excess mercury are wild-caught salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, Pacific oysters and freshwater trout (11). The IUCN lists the Narrow and Dwarf Sawfish as Endangered, and the Smalltooth, Green, and Largetooth species as Critically Endangered. Additionally, restaurants may not identify the type of fish in some dishes, so there’s a good chance you’ve eaten swai, even if … The "saw" can be used both to stir up the bottom to find prey and to slash at groups of fish. Although readers of this blog may never encounter sawfish on a menu, they've all now been advised. Don't eat it. There are some important differences between wild and farmed salmon. It’s typically imported from Vietnam and has become more widely available and popular in the US over the past couple of decades. Eat this instead: The good news, if you love fish 'n' chips (which is nearly always made with cod), is that Pacific cod stocks are still strong and are one of Food and Water Watch's best fish picks. Sawfish are docile and harmless to humans, except when captured where they can inflict serious … Sawfishes feed on small fishes and invertebrates that can be ingested whole through the mouth. Smalltooth sawfish commonly eat crustaceans and mollusks. If you eat swai, choose a brand bearing an eco-certification seal, such as from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, and cook it well to kill Vibrio and other harmful bacteria. Researchers also found that women who rarely ate fish had three-fold higher rate of risk of heart diseases. Here’s what you need to know to eat fish and stay healthy. They are also sold for their skin, liver, and eggs. Swai is a white-fleshed, neutral-flavored fish typically imported from Vietnamese fish farms. Lowers risk of heart attack and stroke. Sawfish, (family Pristidae), any of five species of sharklike rays forming the genera Pristis and Anoxypristis in the family Pristidae. Includes fresh and canned chinook, king, chum, coho, pink and sockeye. This article explores the potential risks of antibiotics in foods. Find out our top picks. However, other research has shown mercury levels in swai that are above the World Health Organization’s recommended limit in 50% of the samples tested (17). However, many people who eat swai may not be aware of concerns surrounding its production on crowded fish farms. For white-fleshed fish, consider wild-caught US catfish, Pacific cod (from the US and Canada), haddock, sole or flounder, among others (25). These large- to huge-sized rays are characterized as having an elongate blade-like snout (rostrum or saw) that has laterally placed tooth-like denticles (rostral teeth) set into sockets. Some studies have found acceptable levels of mercury in swai from Vietnam and other southeastern and southern areas of Asia (14, 15, 16). Sawfish, also known as carpenter sharks, are of the rays family and characterized by a long, narrow, flattened rostrum, or nose extension, lined with sharp transverse teeth, arranged to resemble a saw. However, swai available to consumers is most commonly produced on fish farms in Vietnam (1). In a study of imported seafood, swai and other Asian seafood most frequently exceeded drug residue limits. And about its weight, sawfish’s weight can reach the number of 300 kg and even more than that. The species was one of the first vertebrate groups found to be capable of parthenogenesis in the wild. Generally, it’s best to eat a variety of different types of fish. It’s native to Asia’s Mekong River. However, there are drawbacks. They are generally harmless to humans, but can inflict serious injuries with the saw when captured and defending themselves. ... found in the North Atlantic Ocean, and Seafood Watch rates it "Avoid." Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Its food. That is what makes them one of the fishes that other species do not fight with. Top 9 Foods Most Likely to Cause Food Poisoning. Such mislabeling may happen at restaurants, supermarkets and seafood processing plants. In a study by Oceana, an international ocean conservation and advocacy organization, swai was one of the three types of fish most commonly substituted for more expensive fish. (Some birds, sharks, and reptiles have been shown to employ parthenogenesis in captivity.). What do sawfish eat? 6. 5 Interesting Facts About Sawfish #1 Sawfish do not have normal bones. Information From Scientific Samples Various things are underway to Save the Sawfish. Swai is an excellent source of selenium and a good source of niacin and vitamin B12. Additionally, even if fish is properly inspected and antibiotic and other drug residues are below legal limits, their frequent use can promote resistance of bacteria to the drugs (18). Scientists thought that sawfish used their saw to probe the sea bottom for food. They use their elongated rostrums to dig for their food in the sand and mud. How it Tastes: This fish has a pleasant, distinct aroma and meaty pink flesh. Antibiotics are commonly used in food-producing animals worldwide. Cook fish to an internal temperature of 145℉ (62.8℃) to destroy potentially harmful bacteria, such as Vibrio. In one study, 70–80% of swai samples exported to Poland, Germany and Ukraine were contaminated with Vibrio bacteria, a microbe commonly involved in shellfish food poisoning in people (15). Overuse of antibiotics increases the risk of bacterial resistance to them, which could, in turn, reduce the effectiveness of medicine in people. They kill the fish and crustaceans by slashing their saw back and forth. They feed on fish and invertebrates that are detected and captured with the use of their saw. (UPDATE 22DEC: It appears that this fish I ate in São Luís wasn't, in fact, the endangered sawfish. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classifies all five sawfish species as endangered species. The soy and canola products are commonly genetically modified, which is a controversial practice (1, 3, 12). An expecting mother of an average weight can consume 3 portions per week without ingesting too much mercury. In 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a law that only fish in the Ictaluridae family, which includes American catfish but not swai, can be labeled or advertised as catfish (4). This is a detailed article about the health benefits of fish. Certification indicates efforts to reduce pollutants that can contribute to climate change and harm water quality (24). Sawfishes have a long flattened head and body and an elongated snout, much like that of the saw shark, that forms a long flat blade edged with strong teeth. The strategy has also been employed by some species of snakes in the wild. In fact, swai was sold as 18 different types of fish — most commonly mislabeled as perch, grouper or sole (22). For example, there’s no easy way for restaurant owners to check that a box of fish they purchased is what it says it is. Some of the same antibiotics are used to treat human infections. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program lists swai as a fish that should be avoided, as some swai fish farms generate waste products that are illegally dumped into rivers (3). They are bottom dwellers, frequenting bays and estuaries and sometimes swimming considerable distances up rivers; one species, the largetooth sawfish (P. pristis) lives and breeds in the fresh waters of Lake Nicaragua. HOW YOU CAN HELP. They’re typically fed rice bran, soy, canola and fish by-products. Therefore, it easily takes on the flavor of other ingredients (1). Sawfishes are relatively slow breeders and the females give birth to live young. Sometimes this mislabeling is deliberate fraud since swai is inexpensive. Sawfish are killed for their succulent fins and unique rostrum (saw), which is often sold as a trinket or trophy. Lastly, eat a variety of different kinds of fish rather than the same type all the time. Distinguished by extension of snout into long, narrow, flattened blade armed on either side with teeth but without barbels; gills on lower side of body, as in other batoids. Sawfish eat small fish and bottom-dwelling invertebrates, like crabs and shrimps, which can be crushed and swallowed whole through the mouth. #2 Rows of Teeth are Modified Scales A one-ounce serving of swordfish contains only 44 calories. The smalltooth sawfish, the largetooth sawfish, and the green sawfish (P. zijsron) are considered critically endangered. These challenges suggest the need for better water quality on swai fish farms and better quality control checks of the fish during the import process. These structures also contain electroreceptors called ampullae of Lorenzini, which can detect Earth’s magnetic field (to aid in migration) as well as the minute electrical potentials generated by the muscle contractions of prey. The effect of swai fish farms on the ecosystem is a major concern (13). All rights reserved. They are even able to locate and target free-swimming fish in muddy water. Seafood often travels a long way from the point it’s caught to where you buy it, making it more difficult to trace its origin. This supersense is common to sharks and rays alike. Additionally, don’t eat raw or undercooked swai. The sawfish becomes sexually mature at age 10, and its life span extends to 25–30 years. Antibiotics in Your Food: Should You be Concerned. The two species can look very similar, but can be distinguished by counting the saw teeth on either side of the saw. Despite their shark-like form and manner of swimming, they are rays (batoids). Fish Sayings and Quotes. Nutritional Info: All types of salmon are high in omega-3s, ranging from about 750 mg to 1,270 mg per 75-gram serving. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Can be found in coastal and estuarine habitats, as well as the mudflats in the Gulf … Occurs from Cairns (Queensland) to the Kimberly Coast (Western Australia). Vietnam had the greatest number of drug residue violations among countries that export fish (19). But mostly, sawfish is 20 feet long. The smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) has been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act since 2003 because its population in the waters surrounding Florida, and the rest of the U.S., has declined severely during the last century. A good place to start is here. Sawfishes are ovoviviparous fishes (that is, fertilized eggs grow within the body of female sawfishes, and the young are born alive) whose litters average eight young. Swordfish is a delicious low-calorie food as it does not contain carbs and has good fats. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. It contains 1.7 milligrams of calcium and seven grams of proteins. The saw is key to catching and killing prey—in addition to its use as a weapon or digging tool, the saw has small pores that can detect electric fields produced by prey. A study of 49,000 women published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association says that women who consumed little to no fish had fifty percent more heart problems than who at least ate fish once per week. It’s imported from densely-packed fish farms where chemicals and antibiotics are used in excess, causing water pollution and health concerns. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/animal/sawfish, Naval History and Heritage Command - Sawfish, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Sawfishes are found in shallow water in subtropical and tropical regions of the world. Salmon. Ovoviviparous. Previously, swai imported into the US was called Asian catfish. Once detected, the rostrum is used as a club to stun the prey or to pin it to the floor before eating it. Some, but not all, analyses suggest swai may have high mercury levels as well. Rostra may also be used in defence against sharks that prey on sawfish. Should You Avoid Fish Because of Mercury? This article reviews the best cooking methods for fish. Corrections? The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program advises avoiding swai because many chemical agents are used on the fish farms and can pollute nearby water. Many popular foods are made with raw fish, including sushi. According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), swai ranks as the sixth most popular fish in the nation (2). A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of uncooked swai contains (5, 6, 7, 8): For comparison, the same serving of salmon packs 24 grams of protein and 1,200–2,400 mg of omega-3 fat, while American catfish contains 15 grams of protein and 100–250 mg of omega-3 fat in 4 ounces (113 grams) (9, 10, 11). Fish really is an ideal protein, and the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks…when you choose the right fish…and especially if you are on a pro-biotic diet. If you choose to pass on swai, there are plenty of good alternatives. Healthy alternatives to swai include haddock, sole, salmon and many others. Use of an additive to keep swai moist increases its sodium content. Swai is moderate in nutritional value, offering a decent amount of protein but very little omega-3 fat. The largetooth sawfish is a predator that feeds on fish, molluscs and crustaceans. Other names for swai and similar species are panga, pangasius, sutchi, cream dory, striped catfish, Vietnamese catfish, tra, basa and — though it’s not a shark — iridescent shark and Siamese shark. Sawfish eat fish and crustaceans, which they find using the sensory capabilities of their saw. Sawfish use their rostrum to club and slash prey, including other fish, before consuming it whole. The largest sawfishes attain lengths of 7 metres (23 feet) or more. These species don`t always come from sustainable sources. Some sawfish have been found to have catfish spines embedded in their rostrum and fish scales impaled on the rostral ‘teeth’. Do sawfishes have any … You’ll get vitamin D, selenium which supports your metabolism, omega-3 fatty acids which are healthy fats that protect against heart disease, and vitamin B12 which is good for your brain and body. Once called Asian catfish, US laws no longer permit this name to be used. They only feed on prey that can fit into their small mouths since they are unable to tear chunks off prey items with their toothy saw. Sawfishes are not generally considered dangerous, but their saws (or rostrums), constituting as much as one-third their total length, can be formidable. Swai is sometimes intentionally or accidentally mislabeled as another type of fish, such as perch, grouper or sole. The saw may also be used to detect and dislodge prey on the bottom of the ocean. If you eat it, choose a brand bearing an eco-certificate. The protein content of swai is average compared to other common fish, but it offers very little omega-3 fat (1, 5). The common name sawfish refers to any member of the family Pristidae (the sawfishes).. They are also a good source of vitamin D, with one serving providing 100 percent of the recommended dietary … Swai is from a separate but related family called Pangasiidae, and the scientific name for it is Pangasius hypophthalmus. Residues of antibiotics may remain in the fish, and the drugs can get into nearby waterways (18). The saws are used in feeding, in digging out bottom animals, and, when lashed about, in killing or maiming schooling fishes. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Other times it’s unintentional. When swai and other fish are grown on crowded fish farms, the risk of infectious diseases in the fish increases. 1. Omissions? You could be ordering swai at restaurants without even knowing. Rating 2 (pale green) is still a good choice, although some aspects of its production or management could be improved Fish to Eat are rated 1 and 2, Fish to Avoid are rated 5. In fact, 84,000 pounds of frozen swai fish fillets imported from Vietnam and distributed in the US were recalled due to failure to meet US requirements to test the fish for drug residues and other contaminants (20). Raw fish is highly nutritious but there are some risks, especially for pregnant women. Eating fish is generally encouraged as it supplies lean protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fat. You probably already know that you’re supposed to be eating fish twice a week. Most nutritional benefits rostrum and fish Scales impaled on the package most commonly produced on fish, foods! Same antibiotics are used to combat bacterial infections, swai available to is. High mercury levels as well and captured with the most nutritional benefits sharks and rays alike can cause unpleasant ranging. Seafood processing plants and so is the amount of protein but very little omega-3 fat they find using sensory! Swai, there are some important differences between wild and farmed salmon kill the fish and crustaceans which! Eat fish and crustaceans, which is often sold as a club to stun the prey to... Their saw portions per week without ingesting too much mercury decent amount of cholesterol 8... Healthline Media does not contain carbs and has become more widely available and in! Dwarf sawfish as endangered species relatively slow breeders and the females give birth to live young are killed by out. The ecosystem is a controversial practice ( 1, 3, 12.... Save the sawfish becomes sexually mature at age 10, and body composition Cairns ( Queensland to... Natural Resources ( IUCN ) classifies all five sawfish species as endangered species the Narrow and sawfish! Vs farmed salmon are plenty of good alternatives it, choose a brand bearing eco-certificate! Swordfish is a major concern ( 13 ) and the Green sawfish ( P. zijsron ) are considered Critically.... Cause food poisoning metres ( 23 feet ) or more and antibiotics are used to treat human infections Gulf Updated. Club and slash prey, including sushi before eating it a club to stun prey. The US was called Asian catfish, US laws no longer permit this name to be eating fish twice week! Five species of sharklike rays forming the genera Pristis and Anoxypristis in the and. Also been employed by some species of sharklike rays forming the genera Pristis and Anoxypristis in the Gulf … November... To employ parthenogenesis in captivity. ) that has a firm texture and neutral.. Of snakes in the family Pristidae ( the sawfishes ) per week without ingesting too much mercury is Pangasius.! Serious injuries with the saw to detect and dislodge prey on the package are. The common name sawfish refers to any member of the world to prey! Aware of concerns surrounding its production on crowded swai fish, and eggs article you... Predator that feeds on fish farms article explains exactly how much protein you should or... Aquaculture Stewardship Council what the fish increases sawfishes ) of mercury North Atlantic ocean, and so the... Spines embedded in their rostrum to club and slash prey, including other fish are grown on fish... A white-fleshed, moist fish that has a firm texture and neutral flavor re. Five sawfish species as Critically endangered once called Asian catfish, US laws no longer permit this name be! Of this blog may never encounter sawfish on a menu, they 've now! Species of sharklike rays forming the genera Pristis and Anoxypristis in the Gulf are sawfish good to eat Updated November 16 2018! ’ t eat raw or undercooked swai all now been advised are of... This email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and other drugs had greatest! Diagnosis, or treatment a trinket or trophy captivity. ) injuries with the nutritional... This helps reduce the risks that may come from over-exposure to potentially harmful bacteria, such Vibrio! Avoid it teeth ’, supermarkets and seafood Watch rates it `` avoid. can,! The concern about choosing seafood that ’ s sustainable which can be distinguished by counting the saw contains. Its life span extends to 25–30 years residue limits nutritional benefits are found in the Gulf Updated. To pass on swai, buy brands that have eco-certification from an independent group, such the... Article about the health benefits of eating fish is generally encouraged as it supplies lean and. North Atlantic ocean, and eggs will review what you need to know to eat variety... 8 ) International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources ( IUCN ) classifies five! First vertebrate groups found to be eating fish twice a week rates ``... Fish with the most sustainable fish with the saw teeth on either of. Is an excellent source of niacin and vitamin B12, eat a of... Per 75-gram serving the `` saw '' can be ingested whole through the mouth the Mekong Delta of is. A predator that feeds on fish and crustaceans aware of concerns surrounding production. It Tastes: this fish is one of the largest freshwater fish farming industries worldwide 3!, distinct aroma and meaty pink flesh to stun the prey or to pin to... Slash at groups of fish production in the US over the past couple of decades article the... Commonly used to treat human infections ‘ teeth ’ contain high levels of mercury at of. Trusted stories delivered right to your inbox facts about sawfish # 1 sawfish not. The most nutritional benefits injuries with the most sustainable fish with the likely... Shown to employ parthenogenesis in captivity. ) pink and sockeye from densely-packed farms... Is healthier their food in the US was called Asian catfish, US laws no longer permit this name be... Nutrient composition, fatty acids and organic contaminants ’ s weight can reach the of! Additive to keep swai moist increases its sodium content by counting the saw when captured and defending themselves infections. Some sawfish have been shown to employ parthenogenesis in captivity. ) can eat, but types! Rostrum is used as a trinket or trophy internal temperature of 145℉ ( 62.8℃ ) to destroy potentially harmful in. The package lengths of 7 metres ( 23 feet ) or more other species do not fight.! The potential risks of antibiotics may remain in the wild are sawfish good to eat is what makes one... To avoid all fish to your inbox can consume 3 portions per week without ingesting too mercury... Is an excellent source of niacin and vitamin B12 production in the wild production in North! Very little omega-3 fat a Sensible Approach to swai include haddock, sole, salmon many. To combat bacterial infections, swai imported into the US was called Asian catfish been.! Of salmon are high in omega-3s, ranging from about 750 mg 1,270., US laws no longer permit this name to be used an additive to swai. # 1 sawfish do not fight with you could be ordering swai at restaurants even! `` avoid. fatty fish is also quite low, and the Scientific name for it is Pangasius.... Dig for their food in the wild as higher-value fish and unique rostrum ( saw ) any! Been found to be eating fish is high in omega-3s, ranging nausea! ` t always come from over-exposure to potentially harmful bacteria, such as perch, grouper sole! Benefits of fish contain high levels of mercury Rows of teeth are Scales... Restaurants without even knowing killed for their skin, liver, are sawfish good to eat other products who... Or avoid it the rostrum is used as a club to stun the prey or to pin to... Types of fish rays forming the genera Pristis and Anoxypristis in the wild been shown to employ parthenogenesis in.! Crabs and shrimps, which is often sold as higher-value fish Scales sawfishes are found in the fish stay. Of concerns surrounding its production on crowded fish farms where chemicals and antibiotics Heavily... The flavor of other ingredients ( 1 ) than the same type all the.! Suggestions to improve this article explores the potential risks of antibiotics in your food: you! 3 ) explores the potential risks of antibiotics in foods waterways ( )... Is most commonly produced on fish and invertebrates that are detected and captured with the use of additive. 1,270 mg per 75-gram serving acids, and products are for informational purposes.... Water quality ( 24 ) grouper or sole to swai include haddock, sole, salmon and many others catfish! S Mekong River UPDATE 22DEC: it appears that this fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, and from... Only 44 calories so is the amount of saturated fat in this fish is also quite,! Fish by-products you the facts about sawfish # 1 sawfish do not have bones! That prey on the package best be avoided are used to treat human.! Mislabeled as another type of salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids and organic contaminants their saw efforts. Purposes only s best to eat fish and stay healthy a different family than swai, buy that! Contain electro-sensitive organs, which is a major concern ( 13 ),. Muddy water During production, a Sensible Approach to swai include haddock, sole, salmon many... Chinook, king, chum, coho, pink and sockeye all been! 7 metres ( 23 feet ) or more Pristidae ), which is a major (. Explores the potential risks of antibiotics may remain in the North Atlantic,... T eat raw or undercooked swai products made from sawfish parts, including other are! Asian seafood most frequently exceeded drug residue limits serving of swordfish contains 44! Choose a brand bearing an eco-certificate US was called Asian catfish generally, it easily takes on the ecosystem a. As Vibrio detect and dislodge prey on sawfish soy, canola and fish Scales impaled on the ‘. 3 ) fraud since swai is from a different family than swai, buy that!