Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps

External Links

CAAB: 37228000


Cusk Eels, Cusk-eels, Cuskeels, Lings, Torsk

Compiler and date details

Douglass F. Hoese, John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates & Dianne J. Bray


Members of the Ophidiidae are found on continental shelf and slope bottoms throughout the world. The family is large with about 228 species in 48 genera. At least 40 described species, in 20 genera, have been collected in Australian waters. One Australian species of Brotula is found in shallow reef waters.

Most cusk eels are benthic and, like most of the ophidiiform families, have jugular pelvic fins with only one or two rays and long dorsal and anal fin bases joined to the caudal fin. Maximum length is about 1.5 m, but many are much smaller.

The cusk eels have not been revised comprehensively, except for some genera.. Cohen & Nielsen (1978) and Nielsen et al. (1999) reviewed the genera, and provided keys and lists of valid species. Generic revisions include those of Nielsen & Machida (1988) for Glyptophidium, Nielsen (2002) for Neobythites and Nielsen & Merrett (2000) for Bassozetus. Nielsen et al. (2014) revised Serembo.

A considerable quantity of unidentified material from the continental shelf and slope of Australia is present in the collections of the Australian museums; from this material, it is likely that additional ophidiids will be recorded. Several unidentified species of Dicrolene Goode & Bean, 1883: 202 (type species Dicrolene intronigra Goode & Bean, 1883 by monotypy) are known from the continental slopes of eastern, southern and western Australia. In addition, a large number of unidentified specimens of Ophidion from eastern and western Australia are housed in collections of Australian museums. Nielsen et al. (1999) recorded Ophidion smithi from north-western Australia, but indicated that it was doubtfully distinct from O. genyopus. O. smithii is included here, but may not represent a valid species. A revision of Australian species is needed.


General References

Cohen, D.M. & Nielsen, J.G. 1978. Guide to the identification of genera of the fish order Ophidiiformes with a tentative classification of the order. National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.). Technical Report 417: 1-72 figs 1-103

Goode, G.B. & Bean, T.H. 1883. Reports on the results of dredging under the supervision of Alexander Agassiz, on the east coast of the United States, during the summer of 1880, by the U.S. Coast Survey Steamer Blake, Commander J.R. Bartlett, U.S.N., commanding. Report on the fishes. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard 10(5): 183-226

Gordon, D.J., Markle, D.F. & Olney, J.E. 1984. Order Ophidiiformes. pp. 308-319 in Moser, H.G. et al. (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Special Publication 1: 1-760

Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Gates, J.E. & Bray, D.J. 2006. Ophidiidae. pp. 556-566 in Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 35. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [556]

Nielsen, J.G. 2002. Revision of the Indo-Pacific species of Neobythites (Teleostei, Ophidiidae), with 15 new species. Galathea Report 19: 5-104 91 figs

Nielsen, J.G., Cohen, D.M., Markle, D.F. & Robins, C.R. 1999. Ophidiiform Fishes of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of pearlfishes, cusk-eels, brotulas and other ophidiiform species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125 Vol. 18. 178 pp.

Nielsen, J.G., Schwarzhans, W. & Uiblein, F. 2014. Review of the Indo-West Pacific ophidiid genera Sirembo and Spottobrotula (Ophidiiformes, Ophidiidae), with descriptions of three new species. Marine Biology Research 11(2): 113-134

Nielsen, J.G. & Machida, Y. 1988. Revision of the Indo-west Pacific bathyal fish genus Glyptophidium (Ophidiiformes, Ophidiidae). Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 35(3): 289-319

Nielsen, J.G. & Merrett, N.R. 2000. Revision of the cosmopolitan deep-sea genus Bassozetus (Pisces: Ophidiidae) with two new species. Galathea Report 18: 7-56 1 pl. 39 figs

Okiyama, M., Leis, J.M. & Rennis. D.S. 2000. Ophidiidae (Cusk Eels). pp. 108-112 in Leis, J.M. & Carson-Ewart, B.M. The larvae of Indo-Pacific coastal fishes. An identification guide to marine fish larvae. Fauna Malesiana Handbooks Leiden : Brill Vol. 2 870 pp. [108]


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
22-Jun-2015 OPHIDIIFORMES 29-Aug-2022 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV) Dr Doug Hoese (AM) Dr Matthew Lockett (AM)
12-Feb-2010 (import)