Macrognathus pavo is a member of the spiny eels family Mastacembelidae 

Characteristic features 

As their name suggests spiny eels have 

  • elongate, eel-like body 
  • long dorsal fins along their backs  
  • 4 - 42 strong sharp spines on dorsal fins
    • when caught, these fishes can wriggle backwards driving the spines into their attacker.
  • long snouts or trunks 
    • highly sensitive
    • used to probe around for insects and worms 

Macrognathus pavo is the least spiny of the spiny eels with 4 to 6 dorsal spines only. Most spiny eel species have many more dorsal spines, up to 42.
Macrognathus pavo belongs to a group of eleven closely related species, the Macrognathus aculeatus group.

Macrognathus pavo differs from the other members of the group in

  • its colour pattern
  • smaller number of rostral tooth plates on the underside of the trunk.
    • these tooth plates probably help the fish to grab their prey
  • Species name 
    • Comes from the Latin word “pavo”, peafowl, referring to the numerous black spots found on the species.


Britz, R., 2010.Species of the Macrognathus aculeatus group in Myanmar with remarks on M. caudiocellatus (Teleostei:Synbranchiformes: Mastacembelidae). Ichthyol. Explor.Freshwater 20: 295-308.

  • Macrognathus pavo
    Diagnostic description

    Find a more in-depth description of the appearance of Macrognathus pavo, including how it differs from other Asian mastacembelids and species of M. aculeatus.