Spiny Sucker Eel, Lipogenys gillii Goode & Bean 1895

Spiny Sucker Eel, Lipogenys gillii. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale brown deep-sea spiny eel with a dark brown lining to the gill chamber and to the rim of opercular branchiostegal flap, and a light yellowish-tan lining of the mouth and buccal cavity. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Lipogenys gillii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3008

Spiny Sucker Eel, Lipogenys gillii Goode & Bean 1895

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Off Nobbys Head, New South Wales, south to the Pedra Branca Seamount area, south of Tasmania. Elsewhere, the species occurs off Japan, the Hawaiian Islands, the Atlantic, and southwestern Pacific.


Dorsal fin VI-VIII, 4-5; Anal fin spines 44-58, soft rays 67-88; Vertebrae 228-234. Tail slender and tapering to a point. Mouth inferior, small and sucker-like; upper lip with thick, pleated folds; posterior end of maxilla bent sharply downward, forming a flap-like structure; fleshy papillae on snout bordering upper lip. Teeth absent. Dorsal fin short-based, located above anus, the first 4-6 rays hard and spinous, increasing in length from front to back, the remainder soft and segmented, membrane connecting all rays except for first I-III spines. Anal fin long, extending from just behind anus to tip of tail, anterior rays spinous, posterior rays segmented, the transition gradual. Caudal fin absent. 


Reportedly feeds mostly on organic material contained in bottom sediment drawn up by the sucker-like mouth [RF doubts this is a detritus feeder; the elaborate mouth without teeth looks like a specialization for extracting soft-bodied benthic invertebrates out of the ground; also, there are no gill rakers to filter detritus (Ref. 50674)]. No obvious sexual dimorphism; a female of 37.5 cm SL was still immature


The species is named in honour of Theodore Gill, who first named the genus Lipogenys in an unpublished manuscript.

Species Citation

Lipogenys gillii Goode & Bean 1895, Proc. U. S. Natl Mus. 17(1013): 469, pl. 18(fig. 3). Type locality: Western Atlantic, 37°46'30"N, 73°56'30"W, Albatross station 2742, depth 865 fathoms.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Spiny Sucker Eel, Lipogenys gillii Goode & Bean 1895


Goode, G.B. & Bean, T.H. 1895. A revision of the order Heteromi, deep-sea fishes, with a description of the new generic types Macdonaldia and Lipogenys. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 17(1013): 455-470. See ref at BHL

Haedrich, R.L. & Merrett, N.R. 1988. Summary atlas of deep-living demersal fishes in the North Atlantic Basin. Journal of Natural History 22: 1325-1362.

McDowell, S.B. 1973. Order Heteromi (Notacanthiformes) in Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Memoirs of the Sears Foundation of Marine Research No. 1 (pt 6): 1-228.

Nakabo, T. (ed.) 2002. Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species. English edition.. Tokyo : Toikai University Press Vol. 1 pp.1-866.

Smith, D.G. 1999. Families Halosauridae, Notacanthidae, Lipogenyidae, Anguillidae, Moringuidae, Chlopsidae, Myrocongridae. pp. 1625-1642 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.

Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. 2015. 36 Family Notacanthidae. pp. 210-217 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.

Templeman, W. 1973. Description and distribution of new specimens of the fish Lipogenys gilli from Western North Atlantic. Journal of the Canadian Fisheries Research Board 30(10): 1559-1564.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37082001

Depth:600–2000 m


Max Size:50 cm TL

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