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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
Whitings
Family Sillaginidae
updated Oct 2020
if you learn only 3 things about them ...
They are important food fish in some places.
They may hide in the sand if disturbed.
There are several species although they look similar at first glace.

Where seen?
These silvery topedo-shaped fishes are often encountered on many of our sandy shores especially near reefs.

What are whitings?
Whitings belong to the Family Sillaginidae. According to FishBase: the family has 3 genera and 31 species, found mainly in the Indo-west Pacific.

Features:
To about 30cm, those seen about 6-8cm. Long, slender silvery fishes with a torpedo-shaped body, large eyes and small mouth on a conical, sharp snout. Often without obvious markings, the various species of Sillago appear very similar in the field.

East Coast, Nov 08

Chek Jawa, Apr 04
The Silver sillago (Sillago sihama) is commonly seen in coastal areas and even recorded in freshwater. It can grow to about 30cm. Body silvery often without any obvious markings. May have dusky tips on the dorsal fins and tail fins. No dark blotch at the base of the pectoral fins. Tail fins may have a whitish margin. These fishes form schools. Adults bury themselves in sand when disturbed. The young fish live out in the open sea, feeding on plankton. In Singapore, this fish is also called 'pasir', which means 'sand' in Malay.

The Trumpeter sillago (Sillago maculata) is found in deeper coastal waters but also in river mouths and mangrove creeks. It can grow about 30cm. There is a black spot at the base of the pectoral fin, the back and sides of the body with dark blotches. The upper and lower blotches are often joined, the upper blotches generally larger. They are found in deeper coastal waters but also in river mouths and mangrove creeks. Juveniles are found in shallow waters, moving into deeper waters as they mature.

The Large-scale sillago (Sillago macrolepsis) can grow to about 20cm. Body yellowish, darker above, without any markings, dorsal fin dusky with a narrow blackish margin. Juveniles have a series of small brown spots along each side at the base of the dorsal fins.

The Spotted sillago (Sillago burrus) is found in silty and muddy areas. It can grow to about 36cm. Body silvery with irregular dark blotches on the sides that may appear to be oblique bars. The upper blotches are small, an indistinct black spot at the base of the pectoral fin. It is found in silty and muddy areas.

Sometimes confused with other small silvery fishes. More on how to tell apart small silvery fishes.

Pulau Hantu, Nov 12

Kusu Island, Sep 10
What do they eat? They eat small animals found on the sea bottom such as worms, small shrimps and prawns.

Human Uses: In some places, they are highly valued as seafood and some species are important in fish farming. They are sold fresh or frozen.

Status and threats: Our whitings are not listed among the threatened animals of Singapore. But l
ike other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Over-fishing can also have an impact on local populations.

Whitings on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores


Tanah Merah, May 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his flickr.


Labrador, Aug 17
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Berlayar Creek, Oct 15
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.


St John's Island, Oct 20
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Seringat-Kias, Jun 09
Photo shared by Liana Tan on her blog.


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

Pulau Semakau, Aug 14
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Family Sillaginidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.

  Family Sillaginidae
  Sillago burrus (Spotted sillago)
Sillago maculata
(Trumpeter sillago)
Sillago sihama (Silver sillago)

Links

References

  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
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