Sinarapan – The World’s Smallest Edible Fish
The sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis) is the world’s smallest commercially-harvested fish located only in the Philippines. They are endemic to the Bicol Region, specifically in Lake Buhi, Lake Bato, Bicol River and other bodies of water in Camarines Sur province.
Sinarapan are a type of goby and they are transparent, except for the black eyes. The fish have an average length of 12.5 millimeters. Males are smaller than females.
Catching the sinarapan is an art. Anglers first cut and trim a bamboo stalk. A palm leaf is wrapped around the top. The stalk is then anchored to the bottom of the lake with the leaf serving as both a beacon and trap.
During the day the sinarapan rest upon the leaf. The leaf is then dumped into a large basket. When the water drains, all that is left is a strange, wriggling, jumping mass that is transparent except for large and spooky black eyes.
Locals fry the sinarapan in oil, or boil them with vegetables. When more are caught than the local market demands, the surplus is salted or dried in cakes and exported to neighboring towns in Camarines Sur and Albay Provinces.
Contrary to common belief, however, sinarapan is not the smallest fish known. Another goby, ‘tabios’ or dwarf pygmy goby (Pandaka pygmaea), also found in the Philippines (rivers of Malabon, Rizal & Palawan) and Indonesia, is the smallest known vertebrate and, like its cousins in Lake Buhi, are an endangered species.
The ‘Sinarapan’ or ‘tabios’ is probably the world’s smallest commercially harvested fish found only in the Philippines, and endimic in Lake Buhi and other areas.
Lake Buhi is a picturesque body of water. It is surrounded by a range of rugged mountains. The entire exotic region has been protected for well over four hundred years and is considered one of the most beautiful rain forests on earth.