Actinopteri (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; demersal. Tropical
Africa: Forecariah River basin in Guinea and coastal basins in Sierra Leone (Ref. 57415), including the Taia, Moyambe and Sherbro (Ref. 7394).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 29.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 57415)
Morphology | Morphometrics
(total): 28 - 30;
soft rays: 115 - 127;
Vertebrae: 98 - 107. Diagnosis: 1st dorsal spine situated before, above or just posterior to posterior edge of pectoral fin; as a result distance from posterior edge of pectoral fin to anterior origin of 1st dorsal spine relatively short, (-6.6) to 6.0% HL (m=0.8); 1 strong pre-orbital spine; 3-4 pre-opercular spines; origin of 1st dorsal spine situated near, before or posterior to posterior edge of pectoral fin; post-anal length 53.1-57.9% SL (m=55.8), increasing with size, longer than preanal length, 40.9-46.7% SL (m=43.4), decreasing with size; distance from anterior border of snout to last externally visible dorsal spine, between 44.3-51.5% SL (m=48.5), comparable to distance from anterior border of snout to last externally visible anal spine, 44.6-51.5% SL (m=48.0), both decreasing with size; 7-10 caudal fin rays; 5-6 predorsal vertebrae; 32-34 abdominal vertebrae; 0 in-between vertebrae; 64-74 caudal vertebrae (Ref. 57415).
Coloration: uniformly light brown overall background colour; dark brown band originating at base of rostral appendage, passing through eye, above pectoral fin and continuing along lateral side of body and tail; lateral dark brown band with a battlement-like upper edge generally well delimited and well contrasted from lighter brown upper sides; lower edge of dark brown band not well delimited; lower sides, eventually, with a few light brown spots; ventral surface of head, belly and abdomen uniformly light brown; dorsal, caudal and anal fins white, transparent of overall background colour with dark brown irregular markings; dorsal and anal fin base generally with a series of large dark brown spots; pectoral fins white of overall background colour with a few dark brown spots; unpaired fins become darker with increasing standard length/ size of specimens; minor size-related colour pattern changes, notably unpaired fins darkening with size due to an increase in number of dark brown spots; nevertheless, outermost border of unpaired fins remains white (Ref. 57415).
Maximum reported TL was 304mm (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. 125652)
Threat to humans
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningSpawning aggregationFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingNutrientsMass conversion
Estimates based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00269 (0.00126 - 0.00577), b=2.95 (2.77 - 3.13), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic level (Ref. 69278
): 3.8 ±0.6 se; based on size and trophs of closest relatives
Resilience (Ref. 120179
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (Preliminary K or Fecundity.).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low to moderate vulnerability (25 of 100).