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Gymnothorax pictus (Ahl, 1789)
Bar-cheeked Eel; Black-speckled Reef-eels; Peppered Moray; Muraena elegantissima Kaup, 1856; Muraena picta Ahl, 1789; Muraena siderea Richardson, 1848

Life   Vertebrata   Fish   Muraenidae   Gymnothorax

Gymnothorax pictus
© Copyright Gerald Allen, 2006 · 0
Gymnothorax pictus

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Main identification features
  • white + dense black spots
Dorsal and anal fins covered with skin, but clearly evident; dorsal fin origin above level of gill opening; posterior nostrils not tubular, at most a raised rim; teeth pointed and well developed, but not of canine proportions; teeth in upper jaw in a single row, conical at front of jaw, becoming compressed along side of jaw; a single conical tooth between the top jaws; two rows of teeth at front of lower jaw, the outer row small; no depressible fangs at middle of upper jaw; rear of roof of mouth with 2 rows of teeth.

White with dense covering of small black spots; juveniles with relatively larger black spots in about three longitudinal rows.

Size: to 140 cm.

Habitat: rocky bottoms.

Depth: 0-5 m.

Widespread in the tropical Indo-Pacific from East Africa to the Americas; in the eastern Pacific it occurs at western Panama and Costa Rica and offshore islands including Clipperton, the Revillagigedos, Cocos and the Galapagos.

Bohlke and Randall (2000) reassinged this species from Siderea to Gymnothorax.

Abundance: Common.
Cites: Not listed.
Climate Zone: Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos); Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo).
Depth Range Max: 5 m.
Depth Range Min: 0 m.
Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs); bony fishes.
Eastern Pacific Range: Northern limit=20; Southern limit=-2; Western limit=-115; Eastern limit=-81; Latitudinal range=22; Longitudinal range=34.
Egg Type: Pelagic; Pelagic larva.
Feeding Group: Carnivore.
FishBase Habitat: Reef Associated.
Global Endemism: All Pacific (West + Central + East); Indo-Pacific only (Indian + Pacific Oceans); TEP non-endemic; "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific); All species.
Habitat: Corals; Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom); Rocks; Reef (rock &/or coral); Reef only.
Inshore Offshore: Inshore; Inshore Only.
IUCN Red List: Not evaluated / Listed.
Length Max: 140 cm.
Regional Endemism: Island (s); Continent; Continent + Island (s); Eastern Pacific non-endemic; Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic; All species.
Residency: Resident.
Salinity: Marine; Marine Only.
Water Column Position: Bottom; Bottom only;

Scientific source:

Links to other sites

  • Ahl, J. N., 1789., Specimen ichthyologicum de Muraena et Ophichtho, quod venia exp. fac. Med. ups. Praeside Carol. Pet. Thunberg, etc. Upsala., Spec. Muraena Ophichtho., :1-14.
  • Allen , G.R. and Robertson, D.R., 1994., Fishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific., Crawford House Press Pty Ltd:1-332.
  • Allen , G.R. and Robertson, D.R., 1997., An Annotated Checklist of the fishes of Clipperton Atoll, Tropical Eastern Pacific., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 45:813-843.
  • Castro-Aguirre, J.L. and Balart, E.F., 2002., La ictiofauna de las islas Revillagigedos y sus relaciones zoogeograficas, con comentarios acerca de su origen y evolucion. En: Lozano-Vilano, M. L. (Ed.). Libro Jubilar en Honor al Dr. Salvador Contreras Balderas., Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Len:153-170.
  • Fischer , W. , Krup , F. , Schneider , W. , Sommer , C. , Carpenter , K. E. and Niem, V. H., 1995., Guia FAO para la Identificacion de Especies de para los fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. Volumen III. Vertebrados - Parte 2., FAO3:1201-1813.
  • Jordan , and McGregor,., 1898., List of fishes collected at the Revillagigedo archipelago and neighboring islands., Rept. U.S. Fisheries Comm., 24:271-284.
  • McCosker , J.E. and Rosenblatt, R.H., 1975., The moray eels (Pisces: Muraenidae) of the Galapagos Islands, with new records and synonymies of extralimital species., Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., 40:417-427.
  • Robertson , D.R. and Allen, G.A., 1996., Zoogeography of the shorefish fauna of Clipperton Atoll., Coral Reefs, 15:121-131.
  • Rosenblatt , R.H. , McCosker , J.E. and Rubinoff, I., 1972., Indo-west Pacific fishes from the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama., Contrib. Sci. Nat. Hist. Mus. Los Angeles Co., 234:18pp.
  • Snodgrass , R. E. and Heller, E., 1905., Papers from the Hopkins Stanford Galapagos expedition, 1898-1899. XVII. Shorefishes of the Revillagigedo, Clipperton, Cocos and Galapagos Island., Proc. Wash. Acad. Sci., 6:333-427.
  • Walker, B. W. and Baldwin, W. J., 1964., Provisional check list of fishes of the Revillagigedo islands., 18 pp.


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Following modified from Australian Faunal Directory
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Kingdom Animalia  
 Phylum Chordata  
 Class Actinopterygii  
 Order Anguilliformes  
 Family Muraenidae  
 Genus Gymnothorax  
  Gymnothorax pictus    (Ahl, 1789) 
Provider: Chen, Hong-Ming 
hierarchy tree    download xml    download txt    Chinese Page    
Synonyms: Gymnothorax picta Microndonophis polyophthalmus Muraena picta Siderea picta Siderea pictus Sideria picta   details
Citation: 臺灣魚類誌(沈等, 1993) A review of muraenid eels (Family Muraenidae) from Taiwan with descriptions of twelve new records. Zoological studies 33(1):44-64(Chen, Shao & Chen, 1994)
Character: HL 7.3-7.6, DGO 15.0-17.7, TR 2.8-3.0 in TL, Vert 127-133. Whitish body, with round-hollow black spots on the body; spots fewer and clearer when young but obscured by addition of many little dots between large spots in adult. Iris has black cross spots. 
Habitat: Inhabits reef flats and rocky intertidal shorelines. Feeds on small fishes and crustaceans, sometimes leaving the water in pursuit of prey. 
Distribution: Indo-Pacific: East Africa; north to the Hawaiian and Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, south to Australia; throughout Micronesia 
Utility: fisheries 
Name Code: 380768
Suggested Link    The Fish Database of Taiwan    FishBase    Discover Life    World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS)  
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Common name (e.g. trout)

Genus + Species (e.g. Gadus morhua)

Gymnothorax pictus (Ahl , 1789)

Paintspotted moray Add your observation in Fish Watcher
Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2100
This map was computer-generated and has not yet been reviewed.
Gymnothorax pictus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Pictures | Videos |     Google image Image of Gymnothorax pictus (Paintspotted moray) Gymnothorax pictus
Picture by Randall, J.E.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes ( gen. , sp. ) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Anguilliformes (Eels and morays) > Muraenidae (Moray eels) > Muraeninae
Etymology: Gymnothorax: Greek, gymnos = naked + Greek, thorax, -akos = breast (Ref. 45335 ) .

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; brackish; reef-associated; depth range 5 - 100 m (Ref. 26165 ).   Tropical; 30°N - 26°S

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Indo-Pacific: East Africa (Ref. 26165 ) to the Galapagos, Cocos, and Clipperton islands; north to the Hawaiian and Ryukyu islands; south to Australia and the Kermadec Islands.

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: L m   ?   range ? - ? cm
Max length : 140 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 30573 )

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0; Anal spines : 0; Anal soft rays : 0; Vertebrae : 128 - 135. Greyish and speckled with irregular, dark markings (Ref. 3257 ). Young yellowish with hollow-centered spots which becomes less conspicuous with age (Ref. 3257 ). Lacks the molariform teeth as well as the depressible vomerine fangs present in most Gymnothorax and have two rows of vomerine teeth (Ref. 37816 ).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Adults inhabit reef flats and rocky intertidal shorelines. Feed on small fishes and crustaceans, sometimes leaving the water in pursuit of prey (Ref. 9710 , 48635 ). Benthic (Ref. 58302 ). Simultaneous hermaphroditism is confirmed for this species (Ref. 103751 ). Caught with various nets (Ref. 30573 ). Solitary (Ref 90102).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Simultaneous hermaphroditism is confirmed (Ref. 103751 ).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Chen, H.-M., K.-T. Shao and C.T. Chen , 1994. A review of the muraenid eels (Family Muraenidae) from Taiwan with descriptions of twelve new records. Zool. Stud. 33(1):44-64. (Ref. 6934 )

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 120744 )

  Least Concern (LC)  ; Date assessed: 18 August 2011

CITES (Ref. 118484 )

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361 )

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 4690 )

Human uses

Fisheries: minor commercial FAO(Publication : search ) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

More information

FAO areas
Food items
Food consumption
Common names
Spawning aggregation
Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Internet sources

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Estimates based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969 ): 25 - 29.1, mean 28.1 (based on 1736 cells). Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805 ):  PD 50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high]. Trophic Level (Ref. 69278 ):  4.2   ±0.72 se; Based on food items. Resilience (Ref. 120179 ):  Very Low, minimum population doubling time more than 14 years (Preliminary K or Fecundity.). Vulnerability (Ref. 59153 ):  Very high vulnerability (76 of 100) . Price category (Ref. 80766 ):   Medium .

Entered by Torres, Armi G. Modified by Luna, Susan M. Fish Forum
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