Common name: Remoras



These hitchhikers of the sea are unique in having the spinous dorsal fin modified into a remarkable sucking disc on top of the head.

Remoras usually attaching themselves to sharks, rays, billfishes, other large bony fishes, marine mammals and turtles.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Remoras, ECHENEIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Apr 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

A small family with eight species in three genera. Seven species in three genera are known from Australian waters. A key to species can be found in Collette (1999). The studies of O'Toole (2002) and Gray et al. (2009) both include the previously recognised genus Remorina in the synonymy of Remora.

Family Distribution

Found worldwide in tropical to temperate waters of all oceans.

Family Size

Maximum length to 1 metre.

Family Feeding

Remoras feed on scraps of food from the meals of their hosts, on parasitic copepods found on their host species, and on fecal material from their host.


Dianne J. Bray


Britz, R. & G.D. Johnson. 2012. Ontogeny and homology of the skeletal elements that form the sucking disc of remoras (Teleostei, Echeneoidei, Echeneidae). Journal of Morphology 273(12): 1353–1366.

Collette, B.B. 1999. Family Echeneidae. pp. 2652-2654 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790pp.

Cressey, R.F. & Lachner, E.A. 1970. The parasitic copepod diet and life history of diskfishes (Echeneidae). Copeia 1970(2): 310-318.

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

Gray, K.N., McDowell, J.R., Collette, B.B. & Graves, J.E. 2009. A molecular phylogeny of the remoras and their relatives. Bulletin of Marine Science 84(2): 183-198.

Lachner, E.A. 1973. Family Echeneididae. pp. 636-640 in Hureau, J.-C. & Monod, T. (eds). Checklist of the Fishes of the North-Eastern Atlantic and of the Mediterranean (CLOFNAM). Paris : UNESCO Vol. 1 683 pp.

O'Toole, B. 2002. Phylogeny of the species of the superfamily Echeneoidea (Perciformes: Carangoidei: Echeneidae, Rachycentridae, and Coryphaenidae), with an interpretation of echeneid hitchhiking behaviour. Canadian Journal of Zoology 80(4): 596-623.

Paulin, C.D. & Habib, G. 1982. Remoras (Pisces : Echeneidae) from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 9: 33-36.

Strasburg, D.W. 1964. Further notes on the identification and biology of echeneid fishes. Pacific Science 18(1): 51-57 figs 1-2.

Schwartz, F.J. 2004. Five species of sharksuckers (family Echeneidae) in North Carolina. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science 120(2): 44-49.

Williams, E.H., A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, L. Bunkley-Williams, R.K. Bonde, C. Self-Sullivan, A. Preen & V.G. Cockcroft. 2003. Echeneid-sirenian associations, with
information on sharksucker diet. Journal of Fish Biology 63: 1176–1183.