Sharpsnout Snake Eel, Apterichtus klazingai (Weber 1913)

Other Names: Pencil Snake Eel, Sharpsnout Snake-eel

A Sharpsnout Snake Eel, Apterichtus klazingai, in Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia, January 2018. Source: Rickard Zerpe / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution

A pale snake eel with the head and throat covered in fine brown spots that sometimes form patches. The Sharpsnout Snake Eel uses its pointed snout or sharp, bony tail to bury itself  - and is usually seen with only its head poking out of the substrate.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Apterichtus klazingai in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024,

Sharpsnout Snake Eel, Apterichtus klazingai (Weber 1913)

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Great Barrier Reef, north of Cape York to off Fraser Island, Queensland; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific from South and East Africa to the Hawaiian Islands. 
Inhabits seagrass beds and shallow sandy, coral and shell rubble bottoms in depths to 50 m.


Body elongate, tail 1.8–1.9, head 12–14, and body depth 45–72 in total length; middle of eye above tip of lower jaw; 3 preopercular pores and 5 pores in supratemporal canal; teeth conical, uniserial on jaws, vomerine teeth absent; body coloration white to pale with numerous small brown spots all slightly smaller than eye, fewer and slightly larger on head, more numerous and smaller on trunk and tail; and MVF 58–138, total vertebrae 131–145 (n= 28).


The species is named in honor of M. D. Klazinga, the brave (“vaillaint”) chief mechanical officer of the "Siboga", which collected the type specimen.

Species Citation

Sphagebranchus klazingai Weber 1913, Die Fische der Siboga-Expedition 57: 47, fig. 9. Type locality: Banda, Siboga station 240, depth 9-45 m (= Banda Sea, Indonesia).


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Sharpsnout Snake Eel, Apterichtus klazingai (Weber 1913)


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

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1979. The Fishes of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Aust. Natl. Parks Wldlf. Ser. Spec. Publ. 2. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service 81 pp. 15 pls. 

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

Hibino, Y. 2018. A new species of Apterichtus (Actinopterygii: Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) from Tori-shima Island, southern Japan with notes on characters of supraorbital canal. Species Diversity 23: 219-223., open access

Hibino, Y., McCosker, J.E. & Kimura, S. 2016. A new species of Apterichtus (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) from the Marquesas Islands. Zootaxa 4117 (1): 146-150

McCosker, J.E. 1977. The osteology, classification, and relationships of the eel family Ophichthidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences(Series 4) v. 41 (no. 1): 1-123. See ref at BHL

McCosker, J.E. & Castle, P.H.J. 1986. Family No. 42: Ophichthidae. pp. 176-186 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls. 

McCosker, J.E.  & Hibino, Y.  2015. A review of the finless snake eels of the genus Apterichtus (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae), with the description of five new species. Zootaxa 3941 (no. 1): 49-78.

McCosker, J.E. & Randall, J.E. 2005. Notes on the snake eels of the genera Apterichtus and Ichthyapus (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) of the Central and South Pacific, with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 800: 1-11. 

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.

Weber, M. 1913. Die Fische der Siboga-Expedition. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse 57: 1-710 123 figs 12 pls

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37068046


Depth:1-50 m

Habitat:Seagrass, sand, rubble

Max Size:40 cm TL

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