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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Ophichthidae
Evermann's snake-eel
Ophichthus lithinus
Family Ophichthidae
updated Oct 2019
Where seen? This fat long snake-like fish is sometimes seen in reefs on our Southern shores. It is much more active at night. During one visit to Sisters Island, four of these fishes were seen hunting among the corals! It was previously known as Ophichthus evermanni.

Features: 30-40cm long. Body long thick cylindrical and is only flattened towards the very tip of the tail. Distinguished by a yellowish chin and two yellowish rings around the body, one behind the eyes and another at the pectoral fins. Body pattern of irregular large dark brown or purple blotches over a pale yellowish background. It lacks scales. The snout is blunt and it has tubular nostrils. The tail tip is bony and sharp so it can burrow quickly, both forwards and backwards! It has two comically tiny rounded pectoral fins, the dorsal fin very narrow, starts above the pectoral fins. It swims by moving the body in S-shapes, rather like a sea snake.

Sometimes mistaken for sea snakes. Here's more on how to tell apart sea snakes, eels and eel-like animals.

Tubular nostrils. two yellowish rings, pectoral fins.
Sisters Island, Aug 12

Body flatter only towards the sharp tail.
Sisters Island, Aug 12

This one ate an octopus within minutes!
Sisters Island, Feb 07

Sisters Island, Aug 12

Peeping out of a burrow on a sandbar
Berlayar Creek, Nov 20
What does it eat? It hunts fishes, octopuses, squids and cuttlefishes and crustaceans. It has granular teeth.
Evermann’s snake-eel (Ophichthus lithinus)

Evermann's snake-eels on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi Carpark 7, May 21

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Changi Carpark 7, Jun 23

Photo shared by Kelvin Yong on facebook.

Changi Lost Coast, Jun 22

Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Sentosa Tg Rimau, Apr 21

Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

St. John's Island , Apr 12
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Pulau Hantu, Sep 10
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, May 11
Photo shared by Rene Ong on facebook.

Cyrene Reef, Aug 18

Photo shared by Jonathan Tan on facebook.

Cyrene, Sep 20

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Terumbu Raya, Mar 11

Pulau Hantu, Oct 14
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Beting Bemban Besar, May 10

Beting Bemban Besar, Jun 15

Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, Jun 15
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Terumbu Semakau, Jul 14

Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Sisters Island, 31 Dec 08

Snake Eel from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

Beting Bemban Besar, Jul 20

Grateful thanks to Kelvin K. P. Lim of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research for identifying this fish.



  • Ria Tan and Kelvin K.P. Lim. 6 Dec 2014. Evermann's snake eel (Ophichthus lithinus) eating octopus. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2013: 87.
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