Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




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CAAB: 37192000


Blunt-tail Catfishes, Blunt-tailed Catfishes, Cobblers, Coral Catfishes, Eel Catfishes, Eel-tailed Catfishes, Eeltail Catfishes, Stinging Catfishes

Compiler and date details

14 February 2013 - Dianne J. Bray, Ursula E. Smith, Douglass F. Hoese & Jennifer E. Gates

20 December 2006 - Douglass F. Hoese & Jennifer E. Gates


Members of the Plotosidae, eel-tailed catfishes, are distributed throughout the Indian Ocean and western tropical Pacific in freshwater, estuarine and coastal marine habitats (Nelson 2006). Currently, about 10 genera and 40 species are recognised; about half of the species live in fresh water. Nine genera and 24 species are known from Australia. Distributions may be incorrect or incomplete for some species.

Little is known about the natural history of Australian species. They range in size from 15 cm to 1.4 m, and the freshwater species are distinctive in lacking a dendritic organ protruding from the anus. Some species are known to prey on aquatic invertebrates.

No comprehensive revision of plotosids is available. Ferraris (2007) provided a checklist of recent and fossil catfishes, Gomon & Taylor (1982) provided a key to Plotosus. Tilak (1970) treated Indian Ocean species and Merrick & Schmida (1984) provided information on the biology of freshwater species. Allen (1998) revised Paraplotosus. Some tropical species are treated in Ferraris (1999), and Australian freshwater species are treated in Allen et al. (2002). Recent molecular studies suggest that Tandanus tandanus may be a complex of three species (Musyl & Keenan 1996; Jerry & Woodland 1997; Jerry 2008).


General References

Allen, G.R. 1998. A review of the marine catfish genus Paraplotosus (Plotosidae) with the description of a new species from north-western Australia. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 46(1): 123-134 figs 1-4

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Ferraris, C. 1999. Family Plotosidae. pp. 1880-1883 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Ferraris, C.J. 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418: 1–628 [Date published 8 March 2007]

Gomon, J.R. & Taylor, W.R. 1982. Plotosus nkunga, a new species of catfish from South Africa, with a redescription of Plotosus limbatus Valenciennes and key to the species of Plotosus (Siluriformes : Plotosidae). Special Publication of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology Rhodes University 22: 1-16 figs 1-2 pls 1-2

Hoese, D.F. & Gates, J.E. 2006. Plotosidae. pp. 357-365 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. [357]

Jerry, D.R. 2008. Phylogeography of the freshwater catfish Tandanus tandanus (Plotosidae): a model species to understand evolution of the eastern Australian fish fauna. Marine and Freshwater Research 59: 351–360

Jerry, D.R. & Woodland, D.J. 1997. Electrophoretic evidence for the presence of the undescribed 'Bellinger' catfish (Tandanus sp.) (Teleostei: Plotosidae) in four New South Wales mid-northern coastal rivers. Marine and Freshwater Research 48: 235-240

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.

Musyl, M.K. & Keenan, C.P. 1996. Cryptic speciation and low genetic variability in Australian freshwater eel-tailed catfish Tandanus tandanus Mitchell (1838) (Teleostei: Plotosidae). Copeia 1996(3): 526–534

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Tilak, R. 1970. Siluroid fishes of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. Family Plotosidae. Annals of Zoology 27: 261-273 figs


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)
12-Sep-2013 SILURIFORMES 11-Sep-2013 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV)
12-Feb-2010 (import)