Family OPHIDIIDAE


Common name: Cusk-eels, Lings

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Summary:
The largest and most and diverse ophidiiform group. Species are mostly bottom-dwellers, including the deepest known living fish species, Abyssobrotula galathea, captured at 8370 m in the Puerto Rico Trench.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Cusk-eels, OPHIDIIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Sep 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/family/297

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Family Taxonomy

Very large family with more than 250 described species; more than 40 described species in 20 or more genera have been collected from Australian waters.

Family Distribution

Worldwide on continental shelf and slopes, with the greatest diversity and dominance in deep subtropical and tropical regions; most benthic or benthopelagic, in a variety of habitats from holes and crevices on shallow reefs to abyssal depths in deep oceanic trenches to 8370 m, a few species pelagic or mesopelagic.

Family Description

Body moderately elongate, tapering; anterior nostril midway between upper lip and posterior nostril (immediately above upper lip in bythitids), teeth small, blunt, very close together; well-developed opercular spine usually present; supramaxilla present; rarely fewer than 7 long gill rakers on anterior gill arch. Dorsal fin long-based, origin anterior to anal-fin origin, dorsal fin-rays usually longer than opposing anal fin rays; dorsal, caudal and anal fins usually continuous; pelvic fins, is present, jugular, usually reduced to 1 or 2 short rays. Body scales smooth. Anus well-behind pectoral fins in most species.

Family Size

Maximum length to 2 metres, but most species are small to medium-sized.

Family Feeding

Carnivores - with species ranging from large predators feeding on fishes, to small species feeding mostly on polychaete worms and small crustaceans.

Family Reproduction

Little is known of the biology of  most species. Ophidiids are oviparous with external fertilization. The eggs are pelagic, variable in size; some are reportly embedded in a buoyant gelatinous mass, others are free floating. Larvae are pelagic with no special vexillifer larval stage.

Family Commercial

Two commercially important genera, Brotula in tropical areas, and Genypterus in temperate waters of southern hemisphere; many other species taken as bycatch and occasionally marketed. Genypterus blacodes, a highly important commercial species throughout its range, is caught in demersal trawls, on auto-longlines, and as bycatch and in the rock lobster and giant crab fisheries.

Author

Dianne J. Bray

References


Cohen, D.M. & J G. Nielsen. 1978. Guide to the identification of genera of the fish order Ophidiiformes with a tentative classification of the order. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circ. No. 417: 1-72.

Fahay, M.P. & J.A. Hare. 2006. Ch. 49 Order Ophidiiformes: Aphyonidae, Bythitidae, Ophidiidae, p. 661, In W.J. Richards (ed). Early Stages Of Atlantic Fishes: An Identification Guide For The Western Central North Atlantic. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL, 2640 pp.

Fahay, M.P. & J.G. Nielsen. 2003. Ontogenetic evidence supporting a relationship between Brotulotaenia and Lamprogrammus (Ophidiiformes: Ophidiidae) based on the morphology of exterilium and rubaniform larvae. Ichthyol. Res. 50(3): 209-220.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Ophidiidae. pp. 352-355 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Gordon, D.J., D.F. Markle & J.E. Olney. 1984. Order Ophidiiformes, pp. 308-319 In Moser H.G., W.J. Richards, D.M. Cohen, M.P. Fahay, A.W. Kendall, Jr. & S.L. Richardson (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. Am. Soc. Ichthyol. Herpetol. Spec. Publ. No. 1. 760 pp.

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

Machida, Y. & O. Okamura. 1992. Revision of the bathyal fish genus Homostolus (Ophidiiformes, Ophidiidae). Jpn. J. Ichthyol. 38(4): 341-347.

Nielsen, J. 1999. Order Ophidiiformes: Families Carapidae, Ophidiidae, Bythitidae, Aphyonidae, pp. 1978-1985 In Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. Species identification guide for fisheries purposes. The living marine resources of the western central Pacific. Batoid fishes, chimeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome.

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

Nielsen, J.G. 2010. Revision of the bathyal fish genus Benthocometes (Teleostei: Ophidiidae) with a new species from off NW Australia. Zootaxa 2561: 59-68

Nielsen, J.G., D.M. Cohen, D.F. Markle & C.R. Robins. 1999. FAO species catalogue. Volume 18. Ophidiiform fishes of the world (Order Ophidiiformes). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of pearlfishes, cusk-eels, brotulas and other ophidiirorm fishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 125: i-xi + 1-178.

Nielsen, J.G. & J.-C. Hureau. 1980. Revision of the ophidiid genus Spectrunculus Jordan & Thompson, 1914, a senior synonym of Parabassogigas Nybelin, 1957 (Pisces, Ophidiiformes). Steenstrupia 6(10[= 11]): 149-169.

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

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

Nielsen, J. G. & Møller, P. R. 2011. Revision of the bathyal cusk-eels of the genus Bassogigas (Ophidiidae) with description of a new species from off Guam, west Pacific Ocean. Journal of Fish Biology 78: 783-795

Okiyama, M. 1988. Ophidiidae, pp. 335-341 In  Okiyama, M. (ed.) An Atlas of the Early Stage Fishes in Japan. Tokai University Press, Tokyo, 1154 pp. [In Japanese]

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