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 | 鱼类中文名: 黄金鳍口 (Huáng jīn qí kǒu), 地黄鱼 (Dì huáng yú), 地王鱼 (De wáng yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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 | 鱼类中文名: 白黄姑鱼 (Bái huáng gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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 | 鱼类中文名: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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 | 鱼类中文名: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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 | 鱼类中文名: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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 | 鱼类中文名: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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: Johnius laevis  Sasaki & Kailola, 1991
English Name: Smooth Croaker
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 白姑魚 (Bái gū yú), 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Gelama
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Main Diagnostic Features: Large eyes. Dorsal soft ray count 29-34. Head and upper body color iridescent mauve or bronze, lower part of body silvery-white, fins yellow, black margins to dorsal and caudal fins.
Size: Maximum standard length at about 14 cm, commonly 11 cm.






Scientific Name: Larimichthys polyactis (Bleeker, 1877)
English Name: Yellow Croaker
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 小黃魚 (Xiǎohuángyú), 黄花鱼 (Huánghuā yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Gelama Emas, Gelama Dada Kuning
Size: Maximum standard length at about 40 cm.
Remarks: Body gold when fresh. Mostly caught at the beginning of the Northeast Monsoon season. Most of these fish are caught with eggs. Possibly a new species.

Yellow Croaker, Larimichthys polyactis

Yellow Croaker, Larimichthys polyactis




Scientific Name: Nibea albiflora  (Richardson, 1846) English Name: White Flower Croaker, Yellow Drum
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 黃姑魚 (Huáng gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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 | 鱼类中文名: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 白板 (Bái bǎn)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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: Otolithes ruber  (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
English Name: Tigertooth Croaker
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 双牙(Shuāng yá)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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: Otolithoides biauritus  (Cantor, 1849)
English Name: Bronze Croaker
Local Malay Name: Ikan Gelama Selampai, Tenkerong Merah
Main Diagnostic Features: Mouth large and oblique. Upper jaw extending backward well beyond hind margin of eye. Body slender and cylindrical, minutely brown dotted. Caudal fin pointed. Dorsal, anal, and caudal fins brown or yellow to pale orange. Pectoral fins brown with black spot at base.
Size: Maximum standard length about 160 cm, commonly to 100 cm.










Scientific Name: Otolithoides pama  (Hamilton, 1822)
English Name: Pama Croaker, Long-finned Croaker
Local Malay Name: Gelama Selampai, Tengkerong, Selampai Payau
Main Diagnostic Features: 40 to 45 soft rays in dorsal fin. Mouth terminal. Upper jaw reaching back beyond eye. Pectoral fin same or longer than head (broken in the picture shown). Caudal fin long and pointed. Lateral line scales reaching to tip of caudal fin.
Size: Maximum total length at 160 cm, commonly to 100 cm.






Scientific Name: Panna microdon  (Bleeker, 1849)
English Name: Panna Croaker
Local Malay Name: Ikan Gelama Pisang, Gelama Panjang, Tengkerong, Gelama-panjang Pisang
Main Diagnostic Features: Slender, cylindrical body. Lateral-line scales, with a coating of small secondary scales. Mouth large and terminal. The upper jaw extending backward below hind margin of eye. Pectoral and pelvic fins yellowish. Dorsal and anal fins dusky with dark margin.
Size: Maximum standard length about 30 cm, commonly to 20 cm.






Scientific Name: Paranibea semiluctuosa  (Cuvier, 1830)
English Name: Half-mourning Croaker
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 黑鰭黃姑魚 (Hēi qí huáng gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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, Donkey Croaker
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 大眼白姑鱼 (Dà yǎn bái gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Gelama Pisang
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Size: Maximum standard length 30 cm, commonly to 20 cm.








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

Pennahia anea, Gelama




Scientific Name: Pennahia ovata  Sasaki, 1996
English Name: Big Head Croaker
Mandarin Name: 牛那妈 (Niú nà mā), 大头白姑鱼 (Dà tóu bái gū yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama
Local Hokkien: Gu La Ma
Local Teochew: Gu La Ma
Main Diagnostic Features: Mouth terminal, oblique. Body oval; its depth 2.7–3.2 in standard length. Snout short, steep, equal to eye diameter. Caudal fin weakly S-shaped. Head and body pinkish grey on back, becoming paler ventrally with golden reflections on head; gill cover with diffused dark blotch; spinous dorsal fin with a thin black margin; soft dorsal fin with a series of dark spots along base. Size: Maximum standard length 18 cm.








Scientific Name: Pseudolarimichthys terengganui (Seah, Hanafi, Mazlan, & Chao 2015)
English Name: Terengganu Yellow Croaker, Yellow Croaker
Mandarin Name: 小黃魚 (Xiǎohuángyú), 黄花鱼 (Huánghuā yú)
Local Malay Name: Gelama Emas, Gelama Dada Kuning
Main Diagnostic Features: Eye oval, mouth large, oblique and terminal. Caudal fin rhomboidal or rather pointed. Body gold when fresh.
Remarks: A rare species found in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, mostly caught at the beginning of the Northeast Monsoon season. Most of these fish are caught with eggs. Specimen caught together with Larimichthys polyactis above.






Scientific Name: Pterotolithus lateoides  (Bleeker, 1849)
English Name: Bigmouth Croaker
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 双牙(Shuāng yá)
Local Malay Name: Ikan 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: Ikan Gelama Jarau Bintik, Gelama Musang
Size: Maximum standard length 45 cm, commonly to 40 cm.








Scientific Name: Sciaenops ocellatus  (Linnaeus, 1766)
English Name: Red Drum, Channel Bass
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 眼斑拟石首鱼 (Yǎn bān nǐ shí shǒu yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Gelama Taiwan, Senangin Taiwan
Local Hokkien: Taiwan Ngor
Main Diagnostic Features: Body elongate, with a subterminal mouth and a blunt nose. Large black spot on the upper part of the tail base.
Size: Maximum total length 155 cm, commonly to 100 cm.









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