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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
Family Trichonotidae
updated Nov 2020

Where seen? These long, beautifully patterned fishes are sometimes seen in sandy areas near living reefs. It is said that they hover in small groups above the sand. When threatened, they dive into the sand. Hence their common name.

What are sand-divers? Sand-divers belong to Family Trichonotidae. According to FishBase: the family has one genera (Trichonotus) with 6 species.

Features: To 15-18cm, those seen much shorter, about 8-10cm. These fishes have a long and slender body, somewhat flattened sideways. The pointed snout had a lower jaw that is longer than the upper jaw. Some have fine gold 'eyelashes' over large eyes. The male fish has long filamentous extensions on his dorsal fin.

Sisters Island, Jul 04

Sisters Island, Jul 04

Underside of a dead fish.
Cyrene Reef, May 11

Lower jaw slightly longer, Fine gold 'eyelashes'.
Cyrene Reef, May 11

Sand-divers on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi Lost Coast, Jun 22

Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

East Coast Park Sailing Centre, May 21

Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

East Coast Park Sailing Centre, May 24
Photo shared by Tommy Tan on facebook.

Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

East Coast Park, Jul 15



  • Tan Heok Hui & Leo H. S. Nguang. 25 Jan 2017. Spotted sand-diver, Trichonotus setiger, at Changi. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2017: 10.
  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
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