Croakers


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Croakers, jewfishes or drums are members of the Sciaenidae family. They are distributed in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. They can be recognized by having a long dorsal fin with a deep notch between the spinous and soft-rayed parts, but the parts rarely separate. Also, their lateral line continues up to the tip of caudal fin. However, accurate identification of species of this family is not possible without examination of the swimbladder and the otoliths which requires cutting and gutting the fish.

Croakers primarily inhabit coastal waters on continental shelves, but also occur in estuaries and rivers, especially in breeding seasons and when juvenile and young. A large majority of them are found over muddy or sandy bottoms. Some occur in large shoals and are the object of sizeable fisheries. They are bottom dwelling carnivores, feeding on small crustaceans, fishes, and benthic organisms.

There are 66 genera and about 290 species of croakers worldwide. Malaysian waters has at least 52 species.


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Scientific Name: Chrysochir aureus (Richardson, 1846)
English Name: Reeve's Croaker
French Name:  Courbine Dorée
Mandarin Name: 黄金鳍口 (Huáng jīn qí kǒu), 地黄鱼 (Dì huáng yú), 地王鱼 (De wáng yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama China, Gelama Kuning Dada, Gelama Lumpur
Local Teochew: Chiak Sik
Main Diagnostic Features: Snout acutely pointed, projecting in front of upper jaw. Pectoral fins yellow, other fins grey suffused with orange.
Size: Maximum standard length about 30 cm, commonly to 25 cm.

Reeve's Croaker




Scientific Name: Daysciaena albida  (Cuvier, 1830)
English Name: Bengal Corvina, Croaker
Mandarin Name: 白黄姑鱼 (Bái huáng gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Benggala
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Main Diagnostic Features: Yellowish pelvic fin. Second anal fin spine long and strong.
Size: Maximum standard length 90 cm.






Scientific Name: Dendrophysa russelii (Cuvier, 1829)
English Name: Goatee Croaker
French Name: Bourrugue Chévre
Mandarin Name: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Janggut Tanda Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Main Diagnostic Features: A single pointed barbel on chin and a dark brown broad band on nape.
Size: Maximum standard length 25 cm, commonly to 15 cm.








Scientific Name: Johnius belangerii (Cuvier, 1830)
English Name: Belanger's Croaker
French Name: Courbine de Belanger
Mandarin Name: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Birai, Gelama Panjang, Jarau
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Main Diagnostic Features: Spinous part of dorsal fin and upper part of opercle with black marking.
Size: Maximum standard length 20 cm, commonly 15 cm.

Belanger's Croaker

Belanger's Croaker




Scientific Name: Johnius borneensis   (Bleeker, 1851)
English Name: Sharpnose Hammer Croaker
Mandarin Name: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Batu, Gelama Tukul
Size: Maximum standard length at about 24 cm, commonly 15 cm.

Sharpnose Hammer Croaker




Scientific Name: Johnius coitor  (Hamilton, 1822)
English Name: Coitor Croaker
Mandarin Name: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Borneo, Gelama Papan
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Main Diagnostic Features: Spinous part of dorsal fin with dusky to black border. Soft part of dorsal, anal and caudal fins with a dull green/grey border.
Size: Maximum standard length at about 16 cm, commonly 13 cm.






Scientific Name: Larimichthys polyactis (Bleeker, 1877)
English Name: Yellow Croaker
Mandarin Name: 小黃魚 (Xiǎohuángyú), 黄花鱼 (Huánghuā yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Emas, Gelama Dada Kuning
Size: Maximum standard length at about 40 cm.
Remarks: The fish is gold in color. It is a very rare species in this area that can only be found at the beginning of the Northeast Monsoon season. Most of these fish are caught with eggs.

Yellow Croaker, Larimichthys polyactis

Yellow Croaker, Larimichthys polyactis

Gelama Emas, Gelama Dada Kuning




Scientific Name: Nibea albiflora   (Richardson, 1846)
English Name: White Flower Croaker, Yellow Drum
Mandarin Name: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 黃姑魚 (Huáng gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Bunga
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Size: Maximum standard length at 43.5 cm.

White Flower Croaker




Scientific Name: Nibea soldado  (Lacepède, 1802)
English Name: Soldier Croaker
Mandarin Name: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 白板 (Bái bǎn)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Papan, Gelama Bongkok
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Size: Maximum standard length at 60 cm, commonly to 40 cm. 

Soldier Croaker




Scientific Name: Otolithoides biauritus  (Cantor, 1849)
English Name: Bronze Croaker
Local Malay Name: Gelama Selampai, Tenkerong Merah






Scientific Name: Otolithes ruber  (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
English Name: Tigertooth Croaker
Mandarin Name: 双牙(Shuāng yá)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Gigi Jarang, Gelama Bulat, Tenkerong Panjang
Local Hokkien: Sum Geh
Local Teochew: Sum Geh
Main Diagnostic Features: 1 or 2 pairs of strong canines at front of one or both jaws. Body slender and cylindrical. Caudal fin rhomboidal
Size: Maximum standard length at 70 cm, commonly to 40 cm.

Tigertooth Croaker, Otolithes ruber

双牙, Sum Geh




Scientific Name: Paranibea semiluctuosa  (Cuvier, 1830)
English Name: Half-mourning Croaker
Mandarin Name: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 黑鰭黃姑魚 (Hēi qí huáng gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Kelam
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma 
Main Diagnostic Features: Yellowish colouration at anal and lower part of caudal fin.

Half-mourning Croaker




Scientific Name: Pennahia anea  (Bloch, 1793)
English Name: Bigeye Croaker
Mandarin Name: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 大眼白姑鱼 (Dà yǎn bái gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Pisang
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Size: Maximum standard length 30 cm, commonly to 20 cm.

Pennahia anea, Gelama




Scientific Name: Pennahia macrocephalus  (Tang, 1937)
English Name: Big-head Pennah Croaker
Mandarin Name: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 大头白姑鱼 (Dà tóu bái gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Cerua
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Size: Maximum standard length 23 cm, commonly to 18 cm.

Big-head Pennah Croaker




Scientific Name: Pterotolithus lateoides  (Bleeker, 1849)
English Name: Bigmouth Croaker
Mandarin Name: 双牙(Shuāng yá)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Gigi Jarang, Jarang-gigi Jarau Putih
Local Hokkien: Sum Geh
Local Teochew: Sum Geh
Main Diagnostic Features: 1 or 2 pairs of strong canines at tip of upper jaw and 1 pair at tip of lower jaw. Mouth large and strongly oblique. Caudal fin pointed.
Size: Maximum standard length 50 cm, commonly to 40 cm.








Scientific Name: Pterotolithus maculatus  (Cuvier, 1830)
English Name: Blotched Tigertooth Croaker, Spotted Jewfish
Local Malay Name: Gelama Jarau Bintik, Gelama Musang
Size: Maximum standard length 45 cm, commonly to 40 cm.