Barracudas


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Barracudas are the common names for the members of the Sphyraenidae family. They are found in the tropical and subtropical parts of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. Most of them inhabit shallow coastal waters such as bays, estuaries, or the vicinity of coral reefs, and also in the surface of open oceans or down to depths of 100 m or more. They are known for their large size (up to about 2 m long), fearsome appearance and fang-like sharp teeth. The barracudas are recognized by their elongated body, long and pointed head, two widely separated short dorsal fins and, large, sharp, flattened or conical teeth of unequal size on jaws and palatines.

Also known as the sea wolves, barracudas are carnivorous fish, feeding commonly on other fishes. They attack either by camouflage or in ambush, tearing their prey into pieces by their sharp jaws. They may even attack human when provoked. They frequently occur in small to large schools, but some large adult are solitary. Some species are primarily diurnal, while others are nocturnal and occur in inactive schools during the day. They are frequently caught using artificial lures and live bait as they are attracted by flashing objects and wounded fish, particularly in murky water. Steel leader is used to prevent broken lines.

There is only one genus and 29 species of Sphyraenidae worldwide. Malaysia has about 7 species.


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Scientific Name: Sphyraena barracuda  (Edwards, 1771)
English Name: Great Barracuda
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 巴拉金梭鱼 (Bā lā jīn suō yú), 山君鱼 (Shān jūn yú), 竹梭 (Zhú suō)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Alu-Alu, Kacang-kacang, Alu-alu Besar
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสากใหญ่ (Plā s̄āk yai), ปลาสากดำ (Plā s̄āk dả)
Local Hokkien: Sua Gun
Local Teochew: Teik So
Main Identification Features: Many oblique dark bars on upper half of body, but not across lateral line. Caudal fin with a pair of large lobes at posterior margin, except in young less than 50 cm total length which have a forked caudal fin. Caudal fin with white tips.
Size: The largest in the baracuda family. Maximum total length about 170 cm, commonly to 100 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Offshore pelagic and near reefs, predominantly at or near the surface to 110 m depth. Juveniles school in shallow waters over sandy, weedy bottoms and in mangroves. Adults can be found solitary, in small groups and in large aggregations. Diurnal, feeds mainly on littoral schooling and coral reef fishes, cephalopods, and shrimps.








Scientific Name: Sphyraena flavicauda  Rüppell, 1838
English Name: Yellowtail Barracuda
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 黄尾金梭鱼 (Huáng wěi jīn suō yú), 山君鱼 (Shān jūn yú), 竹梭 (Zhú suō)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Alu-Alu, Kacang-kacang Ekor Kuning
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสากป๊อก (Plā s̄āk ṕxk)
Local Hokkien: Sua Gun
Local Teochew: Teik So
Main Identification Features: Tip of pectoral fins not reaching to first dorsal fin. Origin of pelvic fins situated well before first dorsal-fin origin. Fresh specimens body with 2 brown or brownish yellow longitudinal stripes. Caudal fin yellowish.
Size: A smaller species of barracuda family. Maximum total length about 60 cm, commonly to 40 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Inshore pelagic near reefs, to 25 m depth. Often schools on coastal reefs. Feeds almost exclusively on other fish.






Scientific Name: Sphyraena forsteri  Cuvier, 1829
English Name: Bigeye Barracuda
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 大眼金梭鱼 (Dà yǎn jīn suō yú), 山君鱼 (Shān jūn yú), 竹梭 (Zhú suō)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Alu-Alu, Tenak, Kacang-kacang Mata Besar
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสากตาโต (Plā s̄āk tāto)
Local Hokkien: Sua Gun
Local Teochew: Teik So
Main Identification Features: Body elongate and sub cylindrical with small cycloid scales. Eye large. First dorsal fin origin opposite or before the pectoral tip. A dusky blotch present behind axil of pectoral fins. Caudal fin forked and darkish. Body blackish above and silvery below, without any distinct markings such as bars or stripes. Tips to the second dorsal and anal fins is whitish.
Size: Maximum total length about 65 cm, commonly to 50 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Inshore pelagic near reefs, to 25 m depth. Often schools on coastal reefs. Feeds mainly on fishes, but also on penaeid shrimps and squids.






Scientific Name: Sphyraena jello  Cuvier, 1829
English Name: Pickhandle Barracuda
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 尖梭 (Jiān suō), 竹梭 (Zhú suō)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Alu-alu, Kacang-kacang, Alu-alu Belang
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสากเหลือง (Plā s̄āk h̄elụ̄xng)
Local Hokkien: Sua Gun
Local Teochew: Teik So
Main Identification Features: Many dark chevron bars crossing lateral line on body. Caudal fin largely yellowish, without a pair of small lobes at posterior margin. Last ray of second dorsal fin not elongate in comparison with penultimate ray.
Size: Maximum total length 150 cm, commonly to 120 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Inshore pelagic near reefs, to 60 m depth. Found solitary or in small schools. Juveniles feed on plankton while adults feed on fishes, squids, crustaceans and shellfishes.






Scientific Name: Sphyraena putnamae  Jordan & Seale, 1905
English Name: Sawtooth Barracuda
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 尖梭 (Jiān suō), 竹梭 (Zhú suō)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Alu-alu, Kacang-kacang, Alu-alu Gigi Gergaji
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสากเขียว (Plā s̄āk k̄heīyw), ปลาสากบั้งดำ (Plā s̄āk bậng dả)
Local Hokkien: Sua Gun
Local Teochew: Teik So
Main Identification Features: Many dark chevron bars crossing lateral line on body. Caudal fin with a pair of small lobes at posterior margin. Last ray of second dorsal fin elongate in comparison with penultimate ray. Caudal fin largely blackish without white tips.
Size: Maximum total length 90 cm, commonly to 60 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Inshore pelagic and on outer reef edges. Nocturnal species but occurring in relatively large schools during the day. Feed mainly on fishes.






Scientific Name: Sphyraena qenie  Klunzinger, 1870
English Name: Blackfin Barracuda
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 暗鳍金梭鱼 (Àn qí jīn suō yú), 山君鱼 (Shān jūn yú), 竹梭 (Zhú suō)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Alu-Alu, Kacang-kacang Sirip Hitam
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสากน้ำลึก (Plā s̄āk n̂ả lụk), ปลาสากหางดำ (Plā s̄āk h̄āng dả)
Local Hokkien: Sua Gun
Local Teochew: Teik So
Main Identification Features: Many dark bars crossing lateral line on body, each bar oblique in upper half, but nearly vertical in the lower. Caudal fin forked, in adults with a pair of small lobes at posterior margin. Caudal fin blackish.
Size: Maximum total length 115 cm, commonly to 80 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Pelagic near coral reefs, to 50 m depth. Nocturnal species, occur in relatively large semistationary schools during the day. Feed mainly on fishes.







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