This is the only species of catfish that lives on coral reefs. For this reason, this fish is sometimes called the “coral catfish.”
  • Size

    9.8 inches (25 cm)
  • Diet

    Crustaceans, mollusks, worms, fish
  • Range

  • Habitat

    Coral reefs, estuaries, tide pools, open coasts

Physical Characteristics

  • Body is elongated with bands of black and gray separated by thinner bands of white extending from front to back.
  • Wide, flat mouth with whisker-like appendages (known as barbels) protruding from mouth’s underside.
  • Highly venomous spine on its first dorsal fin and each of its pectoral fins.
  • Maximum length of 12.6 inches (32.0 cm). Common length of 9.8 inches (25.0 cm).

Animal Fact

Juvenile striped eel catfish will huddle together in groups that can number more than one hundred.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks, worms and fish.
  • Feeds by stirring sand with barbels and wide mouth.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to South Korea, Japan and Australia. Occasionally in the fresh waters of Lake Malawi and Madagascar.
  • Found in coral reefs, estuaries, tide pools and open coasts at depths to 197 feet (60 m). Adult may spend its days hidden under ledges.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Maximum estimated lifespan is seven years.
  • An oviparous, or egg-laying, species; distributes eggs demersally (in the part of the water column just above the floor). Larvae are planktonic.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • The only catfish known to appear in coral reefs.
  • Adult is solitary, occasionally appearing in small groups of about twenty.
  • Juvenile forms schools of about 100 individuals forming a spherical shape.
  • Also known as the coral catfish.


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