Xenentodon cancila, Freshwater garfish : fisheries, aquarium

You can sponsor this page

Xenentodon cancila (Hamilton, 1822)

Freshwater garfish
Upload your photos and videos
Pictures | Google image
Image of Xenentodon cancila (Freshwater garfish)
Xenentodon cancila
Picture by Ramani Shirantha

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Beloniformes (Needle fishes) > Belonidae (Needlefishes)
Etymology: Xenentodon: Greek, xenos = strange + Greek, odous = teeth (Ref. 45335).
More on author: Hamilton.

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

Freshwater; brackish; pelagic-neritic; pH range: 7.0 - 7.5; dH range: 20 - ?; amphidromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 2 m (Ref. 58302). Tropical; 22°C - 28°C (Ref. 1672); 38°N - 5°N

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

Asia: Sri Lanka and India eastward to the Mekong.

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 40.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 4833); common length : 30.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 4833)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15-18; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 16 - 18. Body very elongate and slightly compressed. Dorsal fin inserted usually anterior to a vertical through the origin of the anal fin. Green-silvery dorsally, grading to whitish below. A silvery band with a dark margin run along the side; a series of four or five blotches (absent in young specimens) on sides between the pectoral and anal fins. Dorsal and anal fins with dark edges.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Adults occur primarily in rivers (Ref. 4833); also in ponds, canals, beels, and inundated fields (Ref. 1479). Often found in slow-flowing pools in rivers with a rock or sand substrate (Ref. 6028). They inhabit large and medium-sized rivers with adults occurring in areas that lack floating vegetation (Ref. 12693). A solitary species that swims in midwater, usually against the current, and is capable of bursts of speed, especially when in pursuit of its prey. Observed to feed exclusively on crustaceans in the wild; but take live fish only when in an aquarium (Ref. 6028). Also feeds on small fishes and insects (Ref. 12693). Oviparous (Ref. 205). Eggs may be found attached to objects in the water by tendrils on the egg's surface (Ref. 205). This fish is capable of nipping the fingers or killing a person by leaping at them at great speed (Ref. 6028; Kullander (pers. comm., 2001), however, suggests that the "killing a person" statement may be exaggerated). Marketed fresh (Ref. 12693).

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

Male pursues a slow-moving female and upon catching up with the female, will begin shuddering from side to side while the pair is oriented parallel to each other; the pair positions themselves close to submerged vegetation; male assumes a slight head-down position , with his anal fin curled under the female's vent; the pair begins trembling until a single large egg is released; each female produces about a dozen eggs per day; eggs hatch in about a week; no parental care (Ref. 44091).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Collette, Bruce B. | Collaborators

Talwar, P.K. and A.G. Jhingran, 1991. Inland fishes of India and adjacent countries. Volume 2. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, i-xxii + 543-1158, 1 pl. (Ref. 4833)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 126983)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 12 August 2019


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Traumatogenic (Ref. 6028)

Human uses

Fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: potential
FAO - Publication: search | FishSource |

More information

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


Special reports

Download XML

Internet sources

AFORO (otoliths) | Alien/Invasive Species database | Aquatic Commons | BHL | Cloffa | BOLDSystems | Websites from users | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | Catalog of Fishes: genus, species | DiscoverLife | ECOTOX | FAO - Publication: search | Faunafri | Fishipedia | Fishtrace | GenBank: genome, nucleotide | GloBI | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | IGFA World Record | MitoFish | Otolith Atlas of Taiwan Fishes | PubMed | Reef Life Survey | Socotra Atlas | Tree of Life | Wikipedia: Go, Search | World Records Freshwater Fishing | Zoological Record

Estimates based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.7500   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00112 (0.00070 - 0.00179), b=3.16 (3.03 - 3.29), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species & (Sub)family-body (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.9   ±0.62 se; based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (Preliminary K or Fecundity.).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low to moderate vulnerability (30 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766):   High.
Nutrients (Ref. 124155):  Calcium = 284 [95, 708] mg/100g; Iron = 0.8 [0.4, 1.6] mg/100g; Protein = 16.7 [15.3, 18.3] %; Omega3 = 0.205 [0.082, 0.602] g/100g; Selenium = 36.6 [14.8, 85.7] μg/100g; VitaminA = 43.9 [18.2, 104.0] μg/100g; Zinc = 1.72 [1.04, 2.47] mg/100g (wet weight); based on nutrient studies.