> Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
learn only 3 things about them ...
These fishes can be tiny and well camouflaged. Watch your
They do indeed have three spines.
take the fish out of the water or it may die.
seen? These flat silvery fishes with surprising pointy
spines can sometimes be commonly seen on our Northern shores, among
seagrasses. Some may be tiny (less than 3cm) and being flat, virtually
disappear when seen from above. Larger ones may be seen in streams
flowing out of the mangroves during low tide.
What are tripodfishes? Tripodfishes belong to Family Triacanthidae.
According to FishBase:
the family has 4 genera and 7 species. They are found in the Indo-Pacific
Tripodfish features: 6-25cm. Body extremely flattened sideways,
somewhat rhombus-shaped and silvery. The scales are tiny and almost
impossible to see with the naked eye. The gill opening is a small
The fish does indeed have a tripod made out of a pair of long, rigid
pelvic fins and the tail fin. In addition, it also has a stiff dorsal
fin spine and stiff spines on the pelvic fins. It can raise all these
spines to make it difficult for a predator to swallow it. Its scientific
name comes from the Greek 'tri' which means 'three' and 'akantha'
which means 'thorn'.
Tripodfish are adapted for sandy or muddy coastal areas. Here, they
hunt for small fish and bottom-dwelling animals, sucking these up
with their pointed mouths.
Human uses: Tripodfish are generally
not considered good eating. When caught by trawlers together with
other more marketable fish, tripodfish are considered trash. They
are wastefully thrown back, often dead. In some places, however, such
'trash' fish are converted into fish meal or fertiliser. One species,
the Short-nosed tripodfish (Triacanthus biaculeatus) is said
to be used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Status and threats: Our Tripodfishes
are not listed among the threatened animals of Singapore. However,
creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities
such as reclamation and pollution.
Disappears when seen from above!
Changi, Jun 05
About 2cm long, this juvenile has flaps
on its pointed fins.
Changi, Aug 05
Cyrene Reef, May 11
shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.
Pasir Ris, May 09
by Loh Kok Sheng on his
Tanah Merah, Sep 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his
on Singapore shores
Triacanthidae recorded for Singapore
Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity
Triacanthus brevirostris=**Triacanthus biaculeatus
Triacanthus oxycephalus=**Tripodichthys oxycephalus
Tripodichthys blochii (Longtail tripodfish)