Sinarapan, The World’s Smallest Commercial Extant Fish

Lately, one of the things that should not miss a spot on my itinerary whenever I go home to Bicol is to eat my new favorite, yummy dish, sinarapang paksiw. I accomplished this on the third day of my short vacation two weeks ago in our beautiful province, Camarines Sur. Fruedian Salivation Syndrome had entered my system ever since I tasted that paksiw, and my condition actually worsens whenever I am reminded of how rich this small fish is in calcium.

The Mouth-Watering Fried Sinarapan

The sinarapan or tabios (Scientific Name: Mistichthys luzonensis) is the world’s smallest commercially harvested fish found only in the Philippines.


They are endemic to the Bicol Region, specifically in Lake Buhi–the most beautiful lake I have ever seen), Lake Bato, Bicol River and other bodies of water in Camarines Sur. This particular fish is a type of goby. Another is it looks transparent except for the black eyes and it has an average length of 12.5 millimeters. Males are smaller than females.

I cannot get enough of this fish that I always bring a kilo of it each time I go back to the metropolis. I would prefer to have sinarapan for breakfast than drinking one glass of milk for the same.

Today, it is just saddening that sinarapan is already threatened with extinction due to overfishing.

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31 thoughts on “Sinarapan, The World’s Smallest Commercial Extant Fish

    • I’m glad it was featured on TV then as caught by you at least. From now on, I’ll try to make the most of my posts for what the country has to offer, specifically the stuff I can and I may get. It’s an honor to help the country even in simple ways.

      Salamat talaga sa binibigay mong suporta, sir Jon!

      Nga pala, tagal na tayong magkakilala dito. Tingin ko oras na para tanggalin na natin yung formal address na nakasabit sa mga pangalan natin, JON. Ano sa tingin mo?


  1. Hi Sony! It’s been a while. First, I would like to congratulate you for being featured on Freshly Pressed! Wow, that was really a huge accomplishment. I was really happy when I saw your blog on Freshly Pressed because it’s very rare to see a Filipino blogger being featured there. So once again congratulations! Keep up the good work 😀

    I’m also sorry for my late reply regarding your question about my blog layout. Actually, I just got a new job recently and I’m now living at a dorm where I don’t have a stable internet access. That’s why I was not able to update my blog for a long time. Anyway, regarding your question, you can change your blog’s background when you go to your dashboard. Go to Appearance then click background. From there you can personalize your background by either uploading a picture or choosing a plain color.

    And about the summary text and featured picture for each blog post, you can do that when you edit your post. What I do is I put a picture at the beginning of my post then I put the summary text below it. After choosing the sentence that I will split, I will click on the “Insert More Tag” which you can see on your toolbar. By clicking the “Insert More Tag” you can divide your post so that only few sentences of your post will appear on your home or main page of your blog. For reference please see this post

    I hope I was able to answer your questions. Feel free to leave me a message if you have other questions. By the way, the sinarapan looks really delicious. The photos made me hungry 😀 Best regards. Keep on blogging and promoting our culture and tourist spots! More power! 🙂


    • Congratulations for the NEW job, Lovely! That too is a big accomplishment considering how hard it is to find one nowadays – in the country in particular. By the way, you don’t need to say sorry for the late reply. I am well aware of how busy we all are here.

      Thank you so much for answering ALL my questions, for taking time to share a piece of your mind about this post, and for congratulating me! I truly appreciate each of those. I’ll be applying the sort of tutorial you shared here on my succeeding posts. I owe you one.


      I hope you now have a new post. I’ll drop by your site in a bit.


  2. That looks so delicious. I don’t think I ever tried them before but in my town in Roxas City, my mom used to make a “paksiw” dish with fishes that looks like the ” tabios”. It may be a different species. I hope we can preserve these fishes though from extinction . I don’t know if your heard of “diwal” which is abundant in our region that disappeared a few years ago from exploitation and over use.I hope our people will learn to take care of what’s left of our natural resources. I hope to one day show my son how beautiful our country is and not as “was.” Great post. Your adventures are always fun to read. thanks.


    • I also hope that this fish will not face extinction. It shouldn’t because I still see plenty of those in our place (my wife’s actually).

      Regarding diwal, I “googled” it and I liked what I saw. Diwal looks equally mouth-watering as the tabios based on this link: Actually, I should have said more mouth-watering and check the link yourself to know why. On the other hand, I too feel bad about the fact that they are already extinct as you said.

      Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your beautiful mind here, my friend!


      You have a statement there that I find really magnetizing: “I hope to one day show my son how beautiful our country is and not as ‘was’.” Amen to that.


  3. Small, fresh water fish that are high in calcium, and delicious? I wonder
    if there are similar fish in North America’s gulf region – I’m currently on
    the look out for things to feed my green water dragon – I love sardines –
    but they are far too salty for the little guy. Sad to hear they are being
    overfished though, has anyone tried to farm them?


    • Based on what I researched, rastelly, they can’t be farmed but the government of the Camarines Sur (CamSur) have made efforts to translocate this species to other lakes. The reason is that sinarapan is not a hardy fish as they could easily die from slight abrasion in nylon or nets that is used to catch them. Slight temperature change could also stress them. The development therefore of a strategy for effective stock revival should incorporate the effects of these factors. Hence, translocation is what the government of the CamSur does in the hope to save this edible fish. Until 2001, Lakes Makuwaw and Katugday have been successfully translocated with sinarapan through the research projects in Bicol University in close partnership with the Buhi local government unit and the San Ramon Barangay Council with fund support from PCAMRD and the Ford Motors Company, Philippines. Two other mountain lakes in San Ramon, Buhi, Camarines Sur (Kimat and Paeron) are candidate target sites for sinarapan translocation.

      On the other hand, Lake Buhi, the home of the world’s smallest commercially harvested fish, is already dying due to a multitude of pollutants in it at present. Here’s an excerpt from the latest studies about Lake Buhi posted in

      One of the most recent studies, titled “Managing and Conserving Lake Buhi: An Agroecosystem Analysis for Sustainable Development,” was done by researchers of the Camarines Sur State Agricultural College (CSSAC, now Central Bicol State University of Agriculture) in Pili. The findings of the researchers (Dr. Cely Binoya, Joyce dela Trinidad, Arthur Estrella, Celerino Llosel, and Doris Omon) were grim.

      Lake Buhi is now “highly polluted” as a result of the dumping into its waters of septic and domestic wasters of septic and domestic wastes by lakeside families and animal wastes by commercial swine raisers operating along the shorelines. About 15,000 fish cages now cover 70 to 80 percent of the “choking” lake.

      Distressingly, many swine raisers operating along the shorelines and households drained their animal and septic/other domestic wastes into Lake Buhi, noted the CSSAC study.

      Laboratory analysis showed that Lake Buhi’s water has high total suspended solids (TSS), resulting in turbid waters, shallow depths, low pN (acidic), and high chemical oxygen demand (COD) owing to high organic matter.

      “These results,” the CSSAC researchers averred, “indicate that Lake Buhi is now in the stage of eutrophication.” Eutrophication is an increase in chemical nitrogen or phosphorus compounds in an ecosystem, often resulting in excessive plant growth and decay, in turn leading to lack of oxygen and severe reduction in water quality, fish, and other animal populations.


  4. Thank you very much for the information, it remindes me
    of attempts to farm salmon on the east coast. It can be done but
    not pratically, as their life cycles are very complex. Still – farm raised
    salmon are sold and people are encouraged not to buy them as their
    waste can ruin the habitats of other coastal fish. The salmon themselves
    can not grow in muddy water, so the farmers must move on to cleaner
    inlets. Leaving ruined beaches behind.
    Smoked salmon is a favorite of mine, but I never tried a fish I didden’t
    absoulutely love. Red snapper are another favorite – but there is a “Trash Fish”
    called Sheep Head that tastes just like it. It’s hard to clean but so is snapper. I try
    not to buy fish out of season and go easy on the ones I like.
    I don’t know if this is just an American problem but, unless one is doing their
    own fishing, the options are limited – I think it’s because of commercial fishing regulations,
    or because commercial fisherman can’t get enough for certin edible species to justify their
    effort, but it’s gotten to the point that every fish I reach for is in some kind of trouble, while
    safer species are ignored.
    I still have sardines, there seems to be more then enough of that to go around but
    opening a can in my household will cause me to be tossed out side with the cats.


  5. Pingback: The Halcyon Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur | Stories of My Wandering Feet (& Mind)

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  7. Pingback: Sinarapan"Sinarapan" The World's Smallest Edible Fish

  8. Pingback: AFTERMATH – Malate

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