Tire-track spiny eel: Mastacembelus armatus
Tire-track spiny eel: Mastacembelus armatus



Macrognathus armatus: Lacepede, 1803; Hamilton, 1822.

Mastacembelus armatus: Day, 1878; Shaw and Shebbeare, 1937; Bhuiyan, 1964; Day, 1889; Gunther, 1961; Ahmad, N. 1943.

Mastacembelus manipurensis: Hora, 1921a.


Common name: Tire-track spiny eel (English).

Bangla name: Baim, Bam, Sal baim.   


Taxonomic position:

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Osteichthyes

Order: Perciformes

Family: Mastacembelidae

Genus: Mastacembelus

Species: M. armatus


Morphological description:

Body is relatively slender, elongated and slightly compressed. Long dorsal and anal fin is present which is confluent with caudal fin. Pelvic fin is absent, tip of snout is tri-lobed which are a central pointed one, two lateral, short, blunt ones. Nostril situated close to front margin of eye, cleft large and lips thick. Scales is minute, head is scaled, fins scaly at base. Dorsal spines commence over middle of pectoral fin which is rounded, colour dark brown and usually with zigzag lines, yellowish beneath. An undulating black band is situated from eye to caudal, a similar thinner one below it. A row of black spots are found along base of soft dorsal fin Rahman (2005), Bhuiyan (1964) and Talwar and Jhingran (2001).


Fin formula:

D. XXXV-XL/78-88, P1. 24-26, A. III/77-88.

D. 32-39/74-90, P1. 23, A. 3/75-88 (Bhuiyan, 1964).

D. 32-39/74-90, P1. 23, A. 3/75-88 (Shafi and Quddus, 1982).

D. XXXII-XL 64-92, P1. 17-19, A. III 31-46. (Talwar and Jhingran, 2001).

D. XXXVII-XXXVIII/78-84, P1. 25-26, A. III/77-85 (Rahman, 2005).


Minimum and maximum value of scales number on the lateral line is 95 and 97 respectively. Minimum and maximum value of scales number above the lateral line is 29 and 30 respectively. Minimum and maximum value of scales number of below the lateral line is 31 and 33 respectively. Scales number mentioned by Rahman (2005) is 28-30 scales above the lateral.


Habit and habitat:

Distributed in rivers, beels, ponds and inundated fields throughout Bangladesh (Rahman, 2005). It lives at the bottom in the mud and corners of the stones; when water dries up, it buries itself in the mud. It prefers stationary to running water. It is predatory in habit. The young fish feeds on crustaceans and insect larvae, while the adult devours fish and tadpoles (Bhuiyan, 1964).


Breeding time:

Breeding time recorded monsoon period. Eggs filamentous, adhesive, 2 to 2.5 mm. in diameter and brown (Bhuiyan, 1964).


Ecological role:

Its food may be 44% algae, 16% scales, 40% mud or sands, as stated by

Mookerjee, et. al. (1946). By eating large amount of algae, mud and sands plays an important role in our ecology.


Economic importance:

It is reported to be a very good food-fish. It is popular good fish especially when freshly caught. It has high market value (Talwar and Jhingran, 2001). Good sport on rod and line with earth worm bait (Bhuiyan, 1964). According to Basu et. al. (1938) it contains oil and vitamin-C in large amounts.


Marketing status:

The species got a tremendous market demand especially those of large size. Market price is generally between 130-370 Tk/kg depending on the size of the fish and location of selling.



Ahmad, N. 1943. “Fauna of Lahore. 5 Fishes of Lahore”. Bull. Dep. Zool Punjab Univ. Lahore. p. 358.

Basu, et. al. 1938. Nutritional Investigations of some species of Bengal fish”. Indian J. Med. Res. Calcutta. 26(1): pp. 77-203.

Bhuiyan, A.L. 1964. Fishes of Dacca. Asiatic Soc. Pakistan, Publ. No. 13, Dacca. pp. 116-117.

Day, 1889. Fishes. Fauna. Brit. India. William Dowson and sons., London. 1-2: p. 334.

Day, F. 1878. Fishes. Fauna of British India. William Dowson and sons., London. 1-2: p. 340.

Gunther, A. 1861. “Catalogue of the fishes in the British Museum”. Cat. Finsh. Brit. Mus. 1-3: p. 542.

Hamilton, F. 1822. Fishes of the Ganges. Archibald constable and company, Edinburgh. p. 28.

Hora, S.L. 1921a. Fish and fisheries of Manipur with some observations on those of the Naga Hills. Rec. Indian Mus., 22(3): pp. 165-214.

Lacepede, C. 1803. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Hist. Nat. Poiss. 2: p. 246.

Mookerjee, H.K., Sengupta, S.N. and Roy Chowdhury, D.N. 1946. “Food and its percentage composition of the common adult food fishes of Bengal.”  Sci. and cult. Calcutta. 12(7): p. 247.

Munro, I.S. 1955.  Marine and Freshwater Fishes of Ceylon. Dept. External Affairs, Canbarra Publications. p. 267.

Rahman, A.K.A. 2005. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh. The Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka. pp. 262-263.

Shafi, M. and Quddus, M.M.A. 1982. Bangladesher Matshaw Sampad (in Bengali). Bangla academy, Dhaka. pp. 313-314.

Shaw, G.E. and Shebbeare, E.O. 1937. Fishes of Northern Bengal. J. Royal Asiat. Soc. Bengal Science. p. 126.

Talwar, P.K. and Jhingran, A.G. 2001. Inland Fishes of India and Adjacent countries. Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi. 2: pp. 1031-1032.

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Tire-track spiny eel: Mastacembelus armatus

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