Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Synbranchiformes
(Spiny eels) > Mastacembelidae
Etymology: Mastacembelus: Greek, mastax, -agos = bite + Greek, emballo = to throw oneself (Ref. 45335).
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; benthopelagic. Tropical
Africa: discontinuous distribution: from Cavally (Liberia-Ivory Coast border) to Sassandra basins (Ivory Coast) and from Bia (Ivory Coast) to Densu River basins (Ghana); also recorded from the inner Niger River delta (Mali) (Ref. 57415).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 35.3 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26075)
Morphology | Morphometrics
(total): 24 - 28;
soft rays: 70 - 91;
Vertebrae: 88 - 97. Diagnosis: 23+1 up to 27+1 (median 25+1) dorsal spines; distance from anterior border of snout to last externally visible dorsal spine relatively short, 46.2-52.5% SL (m=49.6), increasing with size; distance from posterior edge of pectoral fin to anterior origin of 1st dorsal spine between (-8.1) and 10.4% HL (m=1.0); no pre-orbital or pre-opercular spines; snout with a more blunted appearance; distance from anterior border of snout to last externally visible dorsal spine smaller than distance from anterior border of snout to last externally visible anal spine, which is 51.8-59.3% SL (m=56.3), both decreasing with size; post-anal length 44.3-51.6% SL (m=47.7), smaller than pre-anal length, becoming equal to latter with increasing size, 47.0-53.6% SL (m=51.1); 9-11 caudal fin rays; 5-7 predorsal vertebrae; 34-38 abdominal vertebrae; 3-8 in-between vertebrae; 52-60 caudal vertebrae (Ref. 57415).
Coloration: uniformly light brown overall background colour; dorsal midline with a series of small, dark brown spots; not well contrasted dark brown band originating at base of rostral appendage, passing through eye, above pectoral fin and continuing along lateral side of body and tail; indeed, a battlement pattern delimiting upper edge is still discernable at some places; lower sides of body and tail lighter brown, yellowish, with small, irregularly shaped yellowish white spots; ventral side of head, belly and abdomen uniformly yellowish-white; dorsal, caudal and anal fins white of overall background colour; dorsal and anal fin base with a series of dark brown spots; dorsal fin base brown, diminishing contrast between dorsal-fin base series of dark brown spots with remaining part of dorsal-fin base; dorsal fin with some small, irregularly disposed, dark brown, spots; caudal fin with a vertical, dark brown, bar towards outer margin of fin; nevertheless, caudal fin with a white outermost margin; in addition, unpaired fins quite white of overall general appearance; pectoral fins white of overall background colour with a few dark brown spots; colour pattern changes with size, notably a general darkening of unpaired fins; nevertheless, outermost margin of unpaired fins remains white; in addition, small dark brown spots situated towards distal part of unpaired fins form a more or less continuous band; sometimes, brown spots at base of anal fin may contact dark brown, black band resulting in a series of yellowish, white or light brown spots at base of anal; colour pattern of M. praensis shows close affinity with that of M. nigromarginatus (Ref. 57415).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Vreven, E.J., 2003. Mastacembelidae. p. 708-737 In C. Lévêque, D. Paugy and G.G. Teugels (eds.) Faune des poissons d'eaux douce et saumâtres de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, Tome 2. Coll. Faune et Flore tropicales 40. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgique, Museum National d'Histoire Naturalle, Paris, France and Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Paris, France. 815 p. (Ref. 57415)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00302 (0.00138 - 0.00659), b=2.91 (2.72 - 3.10), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.3 ±0.4 se; Based on size and trophs of closest relatives
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (Preliminary K or Fecundity.).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate vulnerability (38 of 100) .