Trichiurus lepturus   Linnaeus,  1758 (Fish)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Actinopterygii

Image copyrights: Mya Than Tun

Size: Maximum 120 cm SL; common to 100 cm SL.

Max. weight reported: 5 kg.

Color: Fresh specimens are steel blue with silvery reflections, pectoral fins semi-transparent, other fins sometimes tinged with pale yellow; the color becomes uniform silvery grey some time after death.

Body extremely elongate, strongly compressed, ribbon-like, tapering to a point (tip often broken). Mouth large, with a dermal flap at tip of each jaw; 2 or 3 pairs of enlarged fangs with barbs near tip of upper jaw and another pair near tip of lower jaw; a single series of sharp, compressed lateral teeth (often also fang-like in larger specimens) in both jaws; minute teeth on palatines (roof of mouth); eye large, its diameter contained 5 to 7 times in head length; lower hind margin of gill cover concave. Dorsal fin relatively high and long-based, without a notch between the spinous and soft parts, with 3 spines and 130 to 135 soft rays; anal fin reduced to about 100 to 105 minute spinules (usually embedded in the skin or slightly breaking through), its origin below 39th to 41st dorsal fin ray; pectoral fins medium-sized, about as long as snout, with 1 spine and 11 to 13 soft rays; pelvic and caudal fins absent. Lateral line beginning at the upper margin of the gill cover, running oblique to behind the tip of the pectoral fin, then straight close to the ventral profile. Body scaleless. Position of anus nearer to snout than to posterior tip of body (preanal length about 2/5th of standard length). Excess ossification of supraoccipital, interhaemal and interneural bones often seen in specimens from Indian waters.

Dioecious, external fertilization, nonguarders, open water or substratum egg scatterers. Spawning frequency variable throughout range. Pelagic eggs and larvae.
feed on anchovies, sardines, myctophiids etc. and occasionally on squids and crustaceans. Adults and juveniles have opposing complementary vertical diurnal feeding migration. Large adults usually feed on pelagic prey near the surface during the daytime and migrate to the bottom at night. Juveniles and small adults form schools 100 m above the bottom during the daytime and form loose feeding aggregations at night-time near the surface where they prey on planktonic organisms.

Max. reported age: 15 years

Synonym (s)
Clupea haumela Forsskal, 1775
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus argenteus Shaw, 1803
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus coxii Ramsay & Ogilby, 1887
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1844
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus lajor Bleeker, 1854
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus japonicus Bleeker, 1857
Trichiurus lepturus japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1844
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus nitens Garman, 1899
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus haumela (Forsskal, 1775)
(Junior synonym)
Trichiurus malabaricus Day, 1865
(Junior synonym)
Trichiuris haumela (Forsskal, 1775)
Trichiurus japanicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1844
Trichurus lepturus Linnaeus, 1758
Trichyurus lepturus Linnaeus, 1758

Common Name (s)
• Large Head Ribbon Fish (English)
• Bala (Marathi)
• Cutlass Fish (English)
• Grey Ribbon Fish (English)
• Hair Tail (English)
• Large Headed Hairtail (English)
• Large Head Ribbonfish (English)
• Ribbon Fish (English)
• Baga (Gujarati)
• Ribbon (Gujarati)
• Pambole (Kannada)
• Karinthalayan (Malayalam)
• Karuppusavala (Malayalam)
• Karupputhalayan (Malayalam)
• Vellasavala (Malayalam)
• Vellathalayan (Malayalam)
• Baga (Marathi)
• Puttiah (Oriya)
• Thalayan (Malayalam)
• Chavalai (Tamil)
• Karthigaivalai (Tamil)
• Mattachavalai (Tamil)
• Olavalai (Tamil)
• Sonaka Wahlah (Tamil)
• Kothisavallu (Telugu)
• Nadippussavallu (Telugu)
• Peddasavallu (Tamil)
• Sawala (Telugu)
• Yellasavallu (Telugu)
• Largehead Hairtail (English)
• Large Headed Ribbon Fish (English)
• Lapdi
• Patti
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Fisheries, gamefish. Marketed fresh or frozen, dried and salted)

Habitat:  Bentho Pelagic, Estuarine, Muddy, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Crustaceans and small fishes (species of Dussumieria, Sardinella, Stelephorus, Excualosa, Hemiramphus, Mugil, Leiognathus, Caranx, Sciaena and Trichiurus
Predator:  Carcharhinus limbatus, Carcharhinus obscurus, Coryphaena hippurus, Istiophorus albicans, Pontoporia blainvillei, Cynoscion guatucupa, Scomberomorus niphonius, Scomberomorus sierra, Thunnus albacares, Saurida tumbil, Trichiurus lepturus, Carcharhinus porosus, Rachycentron canadum, Pomatomus saltatrix, Pseudotolithus senegalensis, Euthynnus affinis


• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA
• West Bengal, Digha Coast (Lat: 21.61) (Long: 87.53) INDIA
• Goa, Marmagao Bay INDIA
• Goa, Aguada Bay INDIA
• Gulf of Oman
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Kerala, Ponnani Estuary INDIA (Record: 03/1997-02/1999)
• Orissa, Chilika INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Great Nicobar Island INDIA (Record: 08/2000-07/2003)
• Pondicherry, Karaikal (Lat: 10.26) (Long: 79.85) INDIA (Record: 01/2003-12/2003)
• Tamil Nadu, Parangipettai (Lat: 11.48) (Long: 79.76) INDIA (Record: 10/2007-03/2008)
• Kerala INDIA
• Arabian Sea INDIA (Record: 02/1985-06/1987) (Depth: 33-104 mts)
• Bay of Bengal INDIA (Record: 02/1985-06/1987) (Depth: 33-104 mts)
• West Bengal, Sunderbans INDIA
• West Bengal, Hugli Matla Estuary INDIA
• Orissa Coast INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh Coast INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Karnataka, Mysore Coast INDIA
• Goa Coast INDIA
• Gujarat Coast INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA
• West Bengal, Digha Ghole (Lat: 21.61) (Long: 87.53) INDIA (Record: 1981-1982)
• West Bengal INDIA
• Orissa INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh INDIA
• Orissa, Puri INDIA (Record: 1987-2006)
• West Bengal, Kiagoria INDIA (Record: 1981-1982)
• Off South West Coast INDIA (Record: 01/1962-12/1968) (Depth: 10-75 mts)
• Tamil Nadu, Idinthakarai INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Kakinada INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Panaikulam INDIA
• Kerala, Vizhinjam INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Off Visakhapatnam (Lat: 17.73) (Long: 83.55) INDIA (Record: 04/1989-03/1990) (Depth: 50 mts)
• West Bengal (Lat: 21.45) (Long: 87.9) INDIA
• Gujarat, Veraval Coast INDIA
• Maharashtra, Mumbai Coast INDIA
• Karnataka, Karwar Coast INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam Coast INDIA
• South West Coast INDIA
• Maharashtra, Malvan (Lat: 16.07) (Long: 73.47) INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Kakinada (Lat: 16.93) (Long: 82.22) INDIA
• Maharashtra, Mumbai (Lat: 18.98) (Long: 72.83) INDIA

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Page last updated on:2012-03-13

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