Cosmopolitan Spineback, Notacanthus chemnitzii Bloch 1788

Other Names: Snubnosed Spiny Eel, Snub-nosed Spiny Eel

Cosmopolitan Spineback, Notacanthus chemnitzii, MCZ 158608. Source: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A pale tan to pale bluish grey, or dark brown spiny eel with two or more complete rows of palatine and dentary teeth, and 9-12 unconnected short, sharp dorsal-fin spines.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2024, Notacanthus chemnitzii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Cosmopolitan Spineback, Notacanthus chemnitzii Bloch 1788

More Info


Off Forster, New South Wales, to off western Tasmania, and off the Northwest Shelf, northwest of Port Hedland, Western Australia; also the Lord Howe Rise in the Tasman Sea, and off Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal with a discontinuous distribution in non-equatorial to polar waters (Atlantic, north-west and south-west Pacific). The species is epipelagic to benthopelagic.


Dorsal fin VI-XV, 2; Anal fin XIV-XVII, 125-145; Vertebrae 225-239. 
Greatest body depth less than 3 in preanal length; palatine and dentary teeth present in two or more rows. Numerous dorsal-fin spines.


Reportedly feeds mostly on sea anemones.

Species Citation

Notacanthus chemnitzii Bloch 1788, Abhandlungen der Böhmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Prague 3: 278, pl. 1. Type locality: Arctic Ocean (Greenland)


Bray, D.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Cosmopolitan Spineback, Notacanthus chemnitzii Bloch 1788


Bloch, M.E. 1788. Ueber zwey merwürdige Fischarten (Notacanthus chemnitzii und Silurus militaris). Abhandlungen der Böhmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Prague 3: 278-282 2 pls.

Coggan, R.A., Gordon, J.D.M. & Merrett, N.R. 1998. Abundance, distribution, reproduction and diet of notacanthid fishes from the north-east Atlantic. Journal of Fish Biology 52: 1038–1057.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Families Halosauridae, Notacanthidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae, Gonorynchidae, Plotosidae, Salmonidae. pp. 215-231 figs 192-206 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

McCosker, J. 2015. Notacanthus chemnitzii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T195852A2427458. Accessed on 10 April 2024.

McDowell, S.B. 1973. Suborder Notacanthoidei, family Notacanthidae in Cohen, D.M. (ed.) Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Memoir, Sears Foundation of Marine Research 1(6): 124-207 figs 14-16

Moser, H.G. & Charter, S.R. 1996. Notacanthidae: spinyeels. pp. 82-85 in Moser, H.G. (ed.) The early stages of fishes in the California Current Region. California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) Atlas No. 33. 1505 pp.

Paepke, H.J. 1999. Bloch's fish collection in the Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt University zu Berlin: an illustrated catalog and historical account. Theses Zoologicae 32: 1-216.

Shinohara, G., Endo, H. & Matsuura, K. 1996. Deep-water fishes collected from the Pacific Coast of Northern Honshu, Japan. Memoirs of the National Science Museum, Tokyo (29): 153-185.

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.  

Smith, D.G. 2008. Family Notacanthidae. pp. 185-186 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. 2015. Families Halosauridae, Notacanthidae. pp. 206-217 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.

Sulak, K.J. 1986. Notacanthidae. pp. 599-603 in Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L, Hureau, J.-C., Nielsen, J. & Tortonese, E. (eds) Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. UNESCO, Paris. vol. 2.

Sulak, K.J. 1990. Notacanthidae. pp. 133-135 in Quero, J.C., Hureau, J.C., Karrer, C., Post, A. & Saldanha, L. (eds) Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA). JNICT, Lisbon; SEI, Paris; and UNESCO, Paris. Vol. 1.

Vedishcheva, E.V., Orlov, A.M., Orlova, S.Y. et al. 2016. First data on the age, growth processes, and otoliths of snub-nosed spiny eel Notacanthus chemnitzii (Notacanthidae). Journal of Ichthyology 56: 890–898.

Quick Facts

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:125-3285 m

Max Size:122 cm TL

Max Size:Benthopelagic

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CAAB distribution map