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Spiny Eels

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.

Scientific Name: Mastacembelus erythrotaenia  Bleeker, 1850
English Name: Fire Eel
Chinese Name | 鱼类中文名: 红纹刺鳅 (Hóng wén cì qiū)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Tilan, Tilan Bara
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากระทิงไฟ (Plā krathing fị)
Main Identification Features: A distinctive pointed snout and underslung mouth. 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 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Native to Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Inhabits the lower reaches of rivers and inner estuaries with turbid water and a substrate of mud. Feeds on fishes, worms, crustaceans, insect larvae, plant matter, and detritus.