field guide to the freshwater fishes of singapore

Index of fishes
General parts of a fish
Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
  Family Synbrachidae
Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia. Despite their close resemblance, synbranchids are not true eels, but a rather primitive group of serpentine fishes with greatly reduced fins, bearing signs of dorsal and anal fins, but lacking pectoral and pelvic fins. They are air-breathers.

Genus Monopterus
photo of whole fish, side view
Photo: Francis Lim
Swamp Eel
Monopterus albus
Ikan Belut, name in chinese characters

Primarily freshwater fish; 40 cm; oviparous; carnivorous (adults are predators on small fish and frogs); solitary; benthic.
Indigenous, common. Widespread in forested, rural and urban streams, canals, drains, ponds and reservoirs.

This nocturnal fish hides in burrows, under objects or amongst dense vegetation in the day. It has even been found in the crevices of monsoon drains. It is highly adaptable, and not fussy about water quality, able to tolerate polluted and even brackish water conditions. It breathes air, and gaseous exchange takes place in a special part of the hind gut. The gill-opening is simply a slit across the throat.

close-up photo of headIt is sometimes fished for its tasty flesh, and is much esteemed by the Chinese, who also believe in its supposed medicinal value. This curious fish, which has a vaguely dog-like head is said to build a free-floating bubble-nest. The nest and brood are tended by the male. Because it has the ability to bury itself in mud and survive in a torpid state during the droughts, it has sometimes been dubbed the "lungfish of the Orient".
Freshwater habitats
Fishes in Singapore
Amazing Fishy Facts
About the guidebook
From A Guide to Common Freshwater Fishes of Singapore by Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
Published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by BP

@Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Singapore Science Centre