Brachysomophis cirrocheilos (Bleeker, 1857)
Stargazer snake eel
photo by Erdmann, M.V.

Family:  Ophichthidae (Snake eels), subfamily: Ophichthinae
Max. size:  159 cm TL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  reef-associated; depth range 1 - 38 m
Distribution:  Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to Japan, Taiwan south to Indonesia and Australia.
Diagnosis:  Vertebrae: 135-140. Coloration pale, overlain dorsally and along flanks with irregular brown smudges. A moderately elongate species with tail 51-58% and head 11-14% of TL; dorsal fin arising well behind pectoral-fin tips; pectoral fins not elongate; snout moderate, about 3.2 in jaw; jaws elongate; lower jaw extending beyond snout; nostrils in very short tubes in upper lip and closely associated; labial fringe well-developed but cirri not elongate on jaws, with cauliflower-like projections at tips; center of eye behind anterior 40% of jaw; interorbital space and top of head flat, dorsal head profile nearly flat from mid-head to snout tip; head pores inconspicuous; free sensory neuromasts not visible on nape; teeth conical. Numerous prominent barbels on both lips; outer row of maxillary teeth not visible when are closed (Ref 42180).
Biology:  Most commonly found in sand and mud, near coastal reefs at depths of 1 up to at least 10 m. Burrows into the sand tail-first until only its eyes and the top of its snout are visible. Sometimes seen with only its head or snout protruding from the sand. More commonly encountered at night but also seen with its head protruding out of the substrate during the day. Observed with cleaner shrimp Periclimenes magnificus on its head. The shrimp would swim off for short periods and then return to this species (Ref. 42180). Feeds on small fishes and crustaceans (Ref. 2334).
IUCN Red List Status: Not Evaluated (N.E.) Ref. (123251)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:   
 

Entered by: Capuli, Estelita Emily - 17.03.95
Modified by: Torres, Armi G. - 05.09.02

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