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Striped Spiny Eel: Mastacembelus pancalus (Hamilton, 1822)

Striped Spiny Eel: Mastacembelus pancalus

Striped Spiny Eel: Mastacembelus pancalus

Systematic position:

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Mastacembeliformes (Spiny eels)
Family: Mastacembelidae
Genus: Mastacembelus
Species: M. pancalus

Synonyms: Macrognathus pancalus (Hamilton, 1822), Mastacembelus punctatus (Valenciennes, 1832).

Common names:

In Bangladesh: Guchi, Pankal, Turi and Chirka

English: Striped spiny eel and Barred spiny eel.

In India: Turah and Tura (Assam); Turi and Pangkal (West Bengal); Gaincha, Bami, Malya, Patya and Malga (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh); Gurchee (Punjab); Turi, Behru and Baira (Orissa); Parparaal (Andhra Pradesh) and Pilarai and Asraal (Tamil Nadu) (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Distribution: Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Conservation status: Non threatened in Bangladesh.

Morphology: Body elongated and compressed. No barbels. Dorsal and anal fin long but not confluent with caudal fin. Caudal small and rounded. No pelvic fins. Scales small and rounded. Body greenish or olive-green above and yellowish or whitish below. Yellowish fins with numerous black spots. Lateral line present and complete.

Head 19% SL and 17.6% TL. Height 14% SL and 13% TL. Eye 8.7% HL.

Fin formula: D. XXIV-XXVI/35-37; P1. 19-20; A. III/37-40 (Rahman, 1989)

Maximum length: Maximum length reported 17.5 (Day, 1778), 11.5 cm (Bhuiyan, 1964), 17.5 cm (Shafi and Quddus, 1982), 18 cm (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991), 15.8 cm (Hussain, 1999) and 13.5 cm (Rahman, 2005 and 2007).  Highest length measured 15.8 cm in Chalan Beel (Bangladesh) in 2007.

Habitat: Found in Chalan Beel (Galib et al., 2009a), also in small rivers, streams, and canals, beels, inundated fields (Bhuiyan, 1964; Rahman 1989). Inhibits rivers of plains and estuaries (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). In aquaria, they inhibit bottom zone.

Food and feeding: Usually feeds on Entomostracans and insect larvae (Bhuiyan, 1964). Food materials of this fish are mostly sands and debris and small amount of Nymphula (Shafi and Quddus, 1982). In addition, they also take Chironomus, Limnophilo, Culex, Eristalis, Ceratopogan etc. (Shafi and Quddus, 1982). In another research food materials were found as algae (50%), scales of smaller fishes (13%), mud and sands (37%) (Mookerjee et al. 1946).

Breeding: During monsoon period or rainy season. Lay eggs between May and August (Shafi and Quddus, 1982). In aquaria, they spawn in the upper water-level where courtship between female and slender and smaller male generally take place; several males may join this time (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991). The egg is non-floating, non-filamentous, adhesive, 2-2.5 mm in diameter, round and light brown in color (Bhuiyan, 1964). Fecundity usually 1296-3246 (average 2013) (Shafi and Quddus, 1982).

Economics importance: Food fish in Bangladesh. Bhuiyan (1964) described that this fish is highly esteemed as food. Edible portion contains 3.5% fat and 74.2% water (Huda, 1959).

Harvesting and marketing: Harvested by using cast net, seine net, wounding gears, hooks (Shafi and Quddus, 1982). In Chalan Beel, different fishing traps and wounding gears (e.g dohair, polo, anta, ek-kata etc.) are used (Galib et al., 2009b). Dried product of this fish is produced in the Chalan Beel areas (Samad et al. 2009).



Bhuiyan AL. 1964. Fishes of Dacca, Asiat. Soc. Pakistan, Pub. 1, No. 13, Dacca, pp. 115-116.

Galib SM, Samad MA, Mohsin ABM, Flowra FA and Alam MT. 2009a. Present Status of Fishes in the Chalan Beel- the Largest Beel (Wetland) of Bangladesh, Int. J. Ani. Fish. Sci. 2(3): 214-218.

Galib SM, Samad MA, Kamal MM, Haque MA and Hasan MM. 2009b. A Study on Fishing Gears and Methods in the Chalan Beel of North-West Bangladesh, J. Environ. Sci. & Natural Resources, 2(2): 213-218.

Huda AKMS. 1959. Further observation on the fat content of East Pakistan fishes. Proc. Conf. Fish. Officers, Govt. of East Pakistan.

Hussain MM. 1999. Fishes and Fisheries of the River Atrai in Rajshahi with Reference to its Limnology, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh, pp. 5-200.

Mookerjee HK, Sen Gupta SN and Roy Choudhury DN. 1946. Food and its percenrage composition of the common adult food fishes of Bengal. Sci. & Cult. Calcutta, 12(7): 247.

Rahman AKA. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 1st edition, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 123.

Rahman AKA. 2005. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 2nd edition, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. xviii -263.

Samad MA, Galib SM and Flowra FA. 2009. Fish Drying in Chalan Beel Areas, Bangladesh J. Sci. Ind. Res. 44(4): 461-466.

Shafi M and Quddus MAA. 1982. Bangladesher Matshya Sampad (in Bengeli), Bangla Academy, Dhaka, pp. 314-319.

Talwar PK and Jhingran AG. 1991. Inland Fishes of India and Adjacent Countries, Vol. 2, Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi-Calcutta, pp. 1027-1028.

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Shams works in freshwater ecosystems, primarily on fish diversity in terms of their availability, and richness; he is also interested in aquatic invasive species and their impacts on ecosystem. Email: [email protected] More...

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