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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Plotosidae
Black eeltail catfish
Plotosus canius

Family Plotosidae
updated Oct 2019
if you learn only 3 things about it ...
It is small and usually hidden among seaweeds or under rubbish. Watch your step!
The 'whiskers' don't sting. They are used to find food in murky waters.
It has venomous spines. Don't touch it!

Where seen? These wriggly place eel-like fishes are sometimes seen on some of our shore. Usually seen alone, hiding in pools under stones or other debris on the shore, near seagrasses. Elsewhere, adults found mostly in estuaries and lagoons, and sometimes up rivers in nearly fresh waters.

Adults can reach 90cm-1.5m long, those seen at low tide on our shores usually much smaller, about 4-5cm long. Body long, cylindrical and flattening into an eel-like tail. Plain dusky-brown to black with a black dorsal fin tip and a pale belly. Venomous spines on the dorsal and pectoral fins.

Sometimes confused with Striped eeltail catfishes (Plotosus lineatus). The adults of these two eeltail catfishes may appear similar as the stripes on the Striped eeltail catfish fades with age. In Black eeltail catfish adults, the long barbels at the top of the snout can extend past the eyes. These barbels don't extend past the eyes in adult Striped eeltail catfishes.

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

What does it eat? It eats crustaceans, molluscs and fishes.

Human uses: The large adults are harvested commercially for eating.

Juvenile about 4cm long
Changi, Aug 05

'Whiskers' (barbels) at the top of the snout
can extend past the eyes.

Changi, Aug 05

Eel-like tail: dorsal, anal
and tail fins are continuous.
Changi, Aug 05

Body may not be black,
but tip of dorsal fin always black.
Changi, Apr 08

Tiny ones hiding among seaweeds.
Kusu Island, Sep 10

Tiny ones often swim together in a dense ball.
Seringat-Kias, Feb 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Black eeltail catfishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi, Sep 18
Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

East Coast Park, Aug 19
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Tanah Merah, Sep 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Labrador, Aug 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Berlayar Creek, Oct 17
Photo shared by Abel Yeo on facebook.

Seringat-Kias, Dec 14
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

St. John's Island, Sep 09

Photo shared by Neo Mei Lin on her blog.

Beting Bemban Besar, Jun 19
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Cyrene Reef, Aug 11
Photo shared by Lok Kok Sheng on his blog.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, May 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Sisters Island, Dec 10
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

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