The Lais / Sheatfish is a quaintly designed fish. It does not have a dorsal fin, is scaleless with flattened sides. The body is slightly translucent. Some anglers may mistake this fish for the Tapah. The distinct difference is that lack of the feathery dorsal fin. Of course the Lais is much smaller than its predator cousin.
It is a bottom feeder, but prefers to inhabit areas with structure eg. sunken timber or deeper trench of a slow river pool. It is at home in silty waters, hence it is found in many lowland rivers in the country. It used to be a common fish in a local fisherman’s creel, but pollution and habitat degradation has made this species rather rare.
Lais lives on insects and crustaceans found at the river bottom. It usually serves as a bycatch for fishermen chasing after the likes of Lampam, Baung and even Udang Galah.
Scientific name: Ompok bimaculatus
Common name: Sheatfish / Butter Catfish
Malay name: Lais, Selais, Tapah Bemban
Other names: Jambal (Indon.)
Salient Features: Body highly compressed. Design very much like the Tapah, only slimmer. Does not have dorsal fin. Body colour pale white/silver.
Preferred habitat: Bottom of silty rivers, with structure or depression.
Distribution: Most major rivers in Peninsula.
Sundaland, Indochina, India
Record size: Lais grow to only 1 kg.
Angling records: –
Conservation status: Not common. Release all specimens..
Diet: Larvae, worms, crustaceans
Common baits: Worms, river prawns.
Popular lures & flies: NA