Sawspine Catfish, Neoarius pectoralis (Kailola 2000)

Other Names: Sawspined Catfish

Illustration of a Sawspine Catfish, Neoarius pectoralis. Source: Patricia Kailola. License: All rights reserved


A large fork-tailed catfish with venomous spines that may inflict a very painful wound.

Identifying features:
Head large, eye large, head shield granular with a long narrow median groove;
Snout acutely pointed, lips fleshy and crenulated, lower jaw squarish;
Inner margin of pectoral-fin spine with large flattened serrations;
Caudal fin with slender pointed lobes;
Dorsal, pectoral and inner caudal fin with distinct black margins.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Neoarius pectoralis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Sawspine Catfish, Neoarius pectoralis (Kailola 2000)

More Info


Known in Australia from about Anson Bay, NT to the Gulf of Carpentaria, QLD. Found eslewhere in Irian Jaya and possibly in southern Papua New Guinea.

Inhabits shallow coastal waters, estuaries and the tidal parts of rivers, often amongst mangroves.


Meristic features:
Dorsal-fin spines/rays: I, 7
Anal-fin rays: 18-22
Vertebrae: 51

Palatine teeth in two well-separated oblique oval patches.


The specific name pectoralis is from Latin meaning 'shoulder', in reference to the strong serrations along the inner margin of the pectoral-fin spine.

Species Citation

Arius pectoralis Kailola, 2000, The Beagle 16: 133, figs 5-6.
Type locality: Chapman River, Queensland, 14°56´S, 141°38´E.


Dianne J. Bray

Sawspine Catfish, Neoarius pectoralis (Kailola 2000)


Blaber, S.J.M., D.T. Brewer & J.P. Salini. 1994. Diet and dentition in tropical ariid catfishes from Australia. Environ. Biol. Fish. 40: 159-174. (as Arius sp. 3)

Kailola, P.J. 1999. Family Ariidae. pp. 1827-1879 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 1397-2068pp.

Kailola, P.J. 2000. Six new species of fork-tailed catfishes (Pisces, Teleostei, Ariidae) from Australia and New Guinea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 16: 127-144.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37188018

Danger:Venomous fin spines

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Tidal parts of rivers, mangroves

Max Size:40 cm FL

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CAAB distribution map