Snubnosed spiny eel (Notacanthus chemnitzii)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Notacanthus chemnitzii has an elongate and slender body tapering at the tail end. It may reach up to 120 cm in length. It has a short snout but a relatively elongate head. The mouth is on the underside. The dorsal fin consists of a small central series of up to 12 short and hard spines. The anal fin is long and has up to 21 spines. Notacanthus chemnitzii is tan to dark brown in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found off the north-west coasts of Scotland as well as off western Ireland.

Global distribution



The snubnosed spiny eel is a benthopelagic species that occurs at depths of a few hundred metres.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Elongate body up to 120 cm in length.
  • It has a short snout.
  • Teeth of lower jaw in two or more rows.
  • Up to 12 short and hard dorsal spines.
  • Tan to dark brown in colour.

Additional information

Notacanthus chemnitzii can be best distinguished from the shortfin spiny eel Notacanthus bonapartei by having two or more rows of teeth in the lower jaw, by being tan to dark brown in colour and by having a smaller head length than maximum body depth.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2008-02-18

  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  3. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-21


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Notacanthus chemnitzii Snubnosed spiny eel. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 02/06/2008