Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates Linnaeus 1758

Other Names: Australian Remora, Gapu, Live Sharksucker, Slender Suckerfish, Slender Sucker-fish, Slender Sucking Fish, Striped Suckerfish

Suction disc of a Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates, at The Bistro, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji. Source: Richard Ling / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


The Sharksucker hitches a ride on a range of marine animals, including sharks, rays, large bony fishes, marine turtles, whales and dolphins - and occasionally on ships and also humans. Unlike most other remoras, the Sharksucker is also free-swimming. It is the most commonly seen remora in Australian waters, especially around coral reefs.

Identifying features:
Body long and slender, pectoral fins pointed; sucking disc large with 18-28 lamellae; a broad dark mid-lateral stripe bordered with narrow white stripes above and below. Juveniles with upper and lower margins of fins white.

Great video of Sharksuckers along with Cobia and Rainbowrunners filmed in the Andaman Sea.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon, Echeneis naucrates in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates Linnaeus 1758

More Info


Predominantly a warm water inhabitant, although Sharksuckers may be carried into cooler waters by animal hosts or by ships.

Mostly recorded around the northern parts of Australia, from Port Hacking (New South Wales) to Busselton (Western Australia), and Lord Howe, Norfolk and Christmas islands.

Elsewhere; tropical, circumglobal.


Meristic features: Sucking disc lamellae 18-28; Dorsal fin 31-42; Anal fin 29-41; Pectoral fin 21-24; Caudal fin 17; Pelvic fin I, 5; Vertebrae 12; Gill rakers 11-16.

Body depth 7–13% SL; head length ~18–20% SL; many small sharp villiform teeth in jaws, on tongue and on vomerine patches; suction disc not reaching past depressed pectoral fin, length ~22–23% SL; caudal fin forked with long central filament in young, truncate to forked in adults.


Dark grey‑brown to black above, paler below with dark, often pale-edged midlateral stripe; fins dark to black in adults.

Juveniles with pale paired fins; anterior parts of soft dorsal and anal fins and outer margin of caudal fin white.


Feeds on small fishes, host parasites and scraps of food from host.


Islanders tie a line to the caudal peduncle of the Sharksucker to capture sea turtles. When the remora attaches to a turtle or another fish, both are hauled in by the fisherman.

Juvenile Sharksuckers occasionally set up cleaning stations to remove parasites from reef fishes.

Species Citation

Echeneis naucrates Linnaeus, 1758, Syst. Nat., ed. 10: 261. Type locality: Indian Ocean (as  "Pelago Indico").


Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon

Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates Linnaeus 1758


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Andrade, A.B., 2007. Echeneis naucrates (Linnaeus) (Perciformes, Echeneidae), unusual interaction with a diver. Pan-American J. Aquat. Sci. 2(1): 1.

Brunnschweiler, J.M. & I. Sazima. 2010. Swift swimming reef fish as hosts of small juvenile sharksuckers. Coral Reefs 29: 843.

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 2069-2790 pp.

Fernholm, B. & Wheeler, A. 1983. Linnaean fish specimens in the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm. Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 78: 199-286 figs 1-3

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Rachycentridae and Echeneidae. pp. 571-575 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.
Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 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

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. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae, secundem Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentis, Synonymis, Locis. Tom.1 Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae : Laurentii Salvii 824 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

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Russell, B.C. & W. Houston. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle 6(1): 69-84.Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Sazima, I., R.L. Moura and M.C.M. Rodrigues, 1999. Juvenile sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates (Echeneidae), acting as a station-based cleaner fish. Cybium 23(4): 377-380.

Steffensen, J.F. & J.P. Lomholt. 1983. Energetic cost of active branchial ventilation in the sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates. J. Exp. Biol. 103: 185-192.

Whitley, G.P. 1949. Sucking fishes. Australian Museum Magazine 10(1): 17-23

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37336001

Behaviour:Attaches to marine animals

Behaviour:Pelagic - oceanic, reef-associated

Depth:0-200 m

Max Size:110 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map