Common Pike Eel, Muraenesox bagio (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)

Other Names: Common Pike Conger, Common Pike-eel, Pike Eel, Silver Eel

Head of a Common Pike Eel, Muraenesox bagio, from Pilar Public Market, Sorsogon Province, Luzon, Philippines - USNM 405904, TL=654 mm. Source: Jeffrey T. Williams / Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History. License: Cc BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0


A large predatory eel found on soft bottoms in estuaries and coastal waters.

Identifying features: Snout long, posterior nostrils only slightly closer to the eye than to the anterior nostrils; mouth very large, teeth large, conspicuous; head moderately broad; 33-39 lateral line pores before the anus.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Muraenesox bagio in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024,

Common Pike Eel, Muraenesox bagio (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)

More Info


Murchison River, Western Australia, to the Shoalhaven River, New South Wales. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the Indo-West Pacific, from East Africa to Japan, Australia, New Caledonia and Fiji.

Inhabits soft bottoms in estuaries and coastal waters in depths above 100 metres.


Dorsal-fin rays before anus 47-49; Lateral-line pores before anus 33-39; Vertebrae 128-141. 
Body robust, eel-shaped; snout long; eye diameter 3 times in snout length; mouth very large; teeth generally large, conspicuous; interorbital width about 10 times in head length; posterior nostrils only slightly nearer to eye than to anterior nostrils.


Carnivore - feeds on bottom dwelling fishes and crustaceans.


The Common Pike Eel is nocturnal, and has reportedly attacked fishers and anglers when captured.

Similar Species

Differs from the Darkfin Conger Eel, Muraenesox cinereus (which is restricted to northern Australia), in having a narrower head, fewer dorsal-fin rays before the anus (47-49 vs. 66-78 in M cinereus), fewer vertebrae and fewer lateral-line pores before the anus (33-39 vs. 44-47 in M. cinereus).

Species Citation

Muraena bagio Hamilton 1822, An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges: 24, 364. Type locality: Ganges River estuaries, India.


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Common Pike Eel, Muraenesox bagio (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)


Castle, P.H.J. 1986. Muraenesocidae. p. 188, in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Fricke, R., Kulbicki, M. & Wantiez, L. 2011. Checklist of the fishes of New Caledonia, and their distribution in the Southwest Pacific Ocean (Pisces). Stuttgarter Beitr├Ąge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) Neue Serie 4: 341-463.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.

Hamilton, F. 1822. An Account of the Fishes Found in the River Ganges and its Branches. Edinburgh : Archibald Constable 405 pp., pls 1-39.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp.

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84

Smith, D.G. 1999. Families Colocongridae, Derichthyidae, Muraenesocidae, Nemichtyhyidae, Congridae, Nettastomatidae, Serrivomeridae, Cyematidae, Saccopharyngidae, Eurypharyngidae, Monognathidae. pp. 1670-1697 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 1397-2068 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37063003

Behaviour:Inshore, estuaries, soft bottom

Biology:Leptocephalus larva

Danger:Aggressive when caught

Depth:0-100 m

Max Size:200 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map