Mastacembelus armatus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Mastacembelus armatus
Species Authority: (Lacepède, 1800)
Common Name(s):
English Spiny eel
Taxonomic Notes: Mastacembelus armatus is probably a species complex and further taxonomic work is required to clarify the taxonomy.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-12
Assessor(s): Rayamajhi, A., Jha, B.R. & Sharma, C.M.
Reviewer(s): Allen, D.J., Britz, R. & Vishwanath, W.
Contributor(s): Molur, S.

A widespread species with no known major widespread threats, Mastacembelus armatus is assessed as Least Concern.   

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Fresh and brackish waters in Bangladesh; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Cambodia; Vietnam, and northeastern India; found in the Hoogly and Bhagirathi River systems in West Bengal; the Lohit district Arunachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh: (Dehra Dun, Tehri, Pauri, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Nainital, Almora, Pithoragarh). It is likely present in other northeast Indian states.

In Nepal, the distribution of Mastacembelus armatus (Lacepede) is documented by Jha et al. (2006). Its occurrence was reported in seven rivers including Aandhikhola, Arungkhola, Karrakhola, Narayani, East Seti and Tinau river from central and western region of Nepal. The six rivers, Aandhikhola, Arungkhola, Karrakhola, Narayani East and Seti are the members of Gandaki River system. Tinau is an independent system. Aandhikhola accounted for the highest abundance of Mastacembelus armatus among the rivers sampled.
Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; India (Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkand, Uttaranchal, West Bengal); Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In Nepal, the species is found commonly at quite high altitudes in river Tawi (Jammu) and its tributaries. Seasonal availability of some important fishes in some rivers of Nepal could be found mentioned in the literature, but a detailed seasonality of the species is lacking.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits fresh waters in plains and hills.
Systems: Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species attains a length of 61 cm. It is reported to be a very good food-fish. It is not caught by commercial fisheries. In West Bengal it is a popular food-fish especially when freshly caught. This is also found commonly at quite high altitudes in river Tawi (Jammu) and its tributaries.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

No information available on threats to this species. It is caught by local level fisheries.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

More information is required on the species population and distribution.

Bibliography [top]

Amarasinghe, U. S. and. Weerakoon, D.E.M. 2009. Present Status and Future Strategies for the Management of Reservoir Fisheries in Sri Lanka. In: De Silva, S.S. and Amarasinghe, U.S. (eds), Status of reservoir fisheries in five Asian countries, Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacifi c, Bangkok, Thailand.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.4). Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2010).

Jha, B.R. 2006. Fish ecological studies in assessing ecological integrity of rivers: Application in rivers of Nepal. VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Germany.

Jha, B. R., H. Waidbacher, S. Sharma and S. Michael. 2006. Fish species composition, number and abundance in different rivers and seasons in nepal and the reevaluation of their threat category for effective conservation and management. Ecology Environment & Conservation 12(1): 25-36.

Shrestha, J. 1995. Enumeration of the fishes of Nepal. Government of Nepal/ Government of the Netherlands, Kathmandu.

Sokheng, C., Chhea, C.K., Viravong, S., Bouakhamvongsa, K., Suntornratana, U., Yoorong, N., Tung, N.T., Bao, T.Q., Poulsen, A.F. and Jørgensen, J.V. 1999. Fish migrations and spawning habits in the Mekong mainstream: a survey using local knowledge (basin-wide). Assessment of Mekong fisheries: Fish Migrations an. Assessment of Mekong fisheries: Fish Migrations and Spawning and the Impact of Water Management Project (AMFC). AMFP Report 2/99., Vientiane, Lao, P.D.R.

Talwar, P.K. and Jhingran, A.G. 1991. Inland fishes of India and adjacent countries. Volume 2. A.A. Balkema/Rotterdam.

Citation: Rayamajhi, A., Jha, B.R. & Sharma, C.M. 2010. Mastacembelus armatus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 02 September 2015.
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