Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; freshwater; brackish; demersal; catadromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 1 - 400 m (Ref. 6898). Tropical; 24°N - 33°S
Indo-Pacific: East Africa, inland Mozambique and lower Zambezi River to French Polynesia, north to southern Japan.
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 70.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 57749); 200.0 cm TL (female); common length : 26.3 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 35840); max. published weight: 20.5 kg (Ref. 13337); max. published weight: 20.5 kg; max. reported age: 40 years (Ref. 48660)
Vertebrae: 100 - 110. Adults have a brownish to black marbling on their back on a greyish yellow background. This coloration can fade away. White belly. Younger specimens are greyish to orange and the marbling is less visible (Ref. 48622). Body color brown speckles scattered on back, sides and fins; yellow between speckles and edge of pectoral fin; belly white or pale blue (Ref. 45563). Head rounded; snout depressed; lower jaw protruded; gill openings small; scales matted-like under skin; pectoral fin rounded; pelvic fin absent (Ref. 45563). Distinguished from all other species by the mottled color and the long dorsal fin, which begins closer to the gill opening than to the anus (Ref. 9828).
Live in freshwater areas as adults, estuaries and seas as young (Ref. 12693). Found in lowland rivers as well as upland tributaries (Ref. 2847). While in river, the sex gland does not develop. But in winter when they move from the stream to river mouth, the sex gland begins to develop as mature individuals go to deep sea to breed (Ref. 45563). The spawning grounds are deep sea gullies among the south of the Philippines, east of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (Ref. 45563). Are active at night, feeding on a wide range of prey (Ref. 7248, 79840), especially crabs, frogs and fish (Ref. 7248). Thought to breed east of Madagascar where the young are wafted to the East Coast by ocean currents (Ref. 13337, 79840).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Castle, P.H.J., 1984. Anguillidae. p. 34-37. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ORSTOM, Paris and MRAC, Tervuren. Vol. 1. (Ref. 3506)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 120744)
CITES (Ref. 118484)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningSpawning aggregationFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 15.7 - 27.8, mean 24.5 (based on 725 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.8 ±0.67 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 120179
): Very Low, minimum population doubling time more than 14 years (tmax=40).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Very high vulnerability (75 of 100) .