Notacanthidae, the deep-sea spiny eels, are a family of fishes found worldwide below 125 m (410 ft), and as deep as 3,500 m (11,500 ft). The earliest known spiny eel is Pronotacanthus sahelalmae, from the Santonian of what is now Lebanon.

Temporal range: Santonian–Recent [1]
Notacanthus chemnitzii.jpg
Snubnosed spiny eel, Notacanthus chemnitzii.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Notacanthiformes
Family: Notacanthidae

Their bodies are greatly elongated, though more tapered than in true eels. The caudal fin is small or nonexistent, while the anal fin is lengthy, as long as half of the total body length. They feed on animals attached to or living on the sea floor, such as sea anemones, echinoderms, molluscs, and worms.[3]

Although not true eels, these fish do have a similar leptocephalus larval form. However, while the larvae of true eels are about 5–10% of the length of the adult, those of deep-sea spiny eels can grow considerably larger than the adult, and shrink when they develop into their final form. Thus, while adults range from 20 cm (7.9 in) to 1.2 m (3.9 ft) in length, larvae of up to 1.8 m (5.9 ft) have been recorded.[3]


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2011). "Notacanthidae" in FishBase. June 2011 version.
  2. ^ Van Der Laan, Richard; Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ronald (11 November 2014). "Family-group names of Recent fishes". Zootaxa. 3882 (1): 1–230. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3882.1.1. PMID 25543675.
  3. ^ a b McCosker, John F. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.