Spiny Eels


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Spiny eels are members of the Mastacembelidae family. They are distributed in Africa and southern Asia. Their body are elongate and compressed like other eels. They are distinguished by having a series of isolated dorsal spines followed by a many-rayed soft dorsal and a fleshy tentacle snout.

Spiny eels are primarily tropical and subtropical freshwater fishes. They are found in a variety of habitat. Some species burrow in the substrate occasionally. Most species feed on insects, worms, and plant material. They are excellent food fish despite their look.

There are 3 genera and about 90 species worldwide. Malaysia is represented by about 9 species.


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Scientific Name: Mastacembelus erythrotaenia  Bleeker, 1850
English Name: Fire Eel
Chinese Name: 红纹刺鳅 (Hóng wén cì qiū)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Tilan, Tilan Bara
Main Diagnostic Features: Median fins and pectoral fin with a sharply defined distal margin. Body with red spots or elongate marks on a black background
Size: Maximum total length 100.0 cm.