Striped Eel Catfish-Facts-Photographs and Video

Striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus)

The Striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus) also known as the oriental catfish is a species of eel catfish that often congregates in large balls particularly as juveniles. They may look harmless but they have poisonous spines which can be deadly to humans. Striped eel catfish  are responsible for many cases of envomation with fishermen in the Gulf and the Red Sea area. More on that later.

APPEARANCE

As one would expect from their name, the striped eel catfish resembles an eel. The second dorsal, caudal and anal fins are fused together as found in eels. Their mouth has four pairs of barbels, four on the upper jaw and four on the lower jaw. The first dorsal and each of the pectoral fins have highly venomous spines on them that can be dangerous or even fatal to humans.

As a juvenile, the upper section of the body is a dark brown color and on each side of the body two white stripes run the length of the body above and below the eye. The stomach area is a lighter colored brown color. As an adult, growing to approximately  30cm, the stripes fade and they become a drab brownish color. The barbels contain elongated organs of lorenzi and are used as a electro sensors to find prey.

Striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus)

IN THE WILD

The juveniles congregate in balls of over a hundred and during the day they hide in caves and under overhangs. When they are larger the adults are solitary or in smaller groups of ten to twenty. On rare occasions they are seen out in the open during the day. They often open their mouths almost as if yawning. This can be seen in the video below.

HABITAT

The striped eel catfish occurs in the Indian Ocean, in the western Pacific Ocean. They have also been known to enter brackish water in lagoons. They are found around coral reefs, estuaries and tidal pools. In 2002 they were discovered to have migrated to the Mediterranean via the Suez canal. They are now common in Israel and the Levant.

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Striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus)

DIET

Striped eel catfish feed on benthic invertebrates and algae. Adults may feed on small fish.

REPRODUCTION

The striped eel catfish is an oviparous fish and the eggs are laid on a substrate. Once they hatch the larvae become planktonic.

Striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus)

 
TOXICITY

Fatalities have been reported in the Gulf and Red Sea areas mainly in indigenous fishing communities when cleaning nets. Little seems known of the chemical structure of the venom other than they contain toxic peptides.

IMAGES

Striped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus)

 

STRIPED EEL CATFISH CLASSIFICATION

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Plotosidae
Genus: Plotosus
Species: P. lineatus

LITERATURE CITED

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4613-0361-9_28

The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates
East and South Coasts of Southern Africa
Dennis King & Valda Fraser

EQUIPMENT USED

Canon 7D

Ikelite 7D Housing

Twin Ikelite DS 161 Strobes

Flat Ikelite Lens Port

Ikelite Dual Synch Cord 

Ikelite 5.1 inch Port body

 

 

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