Department of Zoology at ANDC/Zoology Museum/Museum specimens/Pisces

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Series Pisces

Date & Time : 28, February 2024 01:38

General Characteristics of Pisces

Features of Fishes

Classification of Pisces

A Few Examples

1. Scoliodon

Common name - Dog fish

Habitat: Open sea

Distribution: Zanzibar to Ceylon,Ceylon to Malay Archipelago in Indian Ocean from Bay of Bengal,East Indies and the Philippine Islands ,from Mexico to Panama in Eastern Pacific ,from Labrador to Brazil in Atlantic ,from Cuba in West Indies and Eastern Coast of South America

Carcharias laticaudus by muller and henle.png

Characteristic Features:

1.Body - long, laterally compressed ,spindle - shaped tapering at both ends.

2. Body Length - 30 to 60 cm

3. Body Colour - dark grey on dorsal and lateral surfaces and pale on ventral surface

4. Body Division - Head , Trunk and Tail

5. Dorso- ventrally compressed head with wedge - shaped snout in front

6. Largest part of the body is trunkextending from behind the gill - slits upto the cloacal aperture.

7. Tail lies behind the cloacal opening.

8. Eyes - large and circular , present at the side of the body

9.Mouth -wide crescentric opening , present on the ventral side of the head.

10. Gill - Clefts - 5 pairs , present on lateral sides

11. Median Fins comprises of :

      a) 2 dorsal fins;

      b) 1 caudal fin; and

      c) 1 anal or ventral fin

12. First Dorsal Fin - triangular and present in front of the middle of the body

13. Second Dorsal Fin - triangular and small and present mid-way between the first dorsal and tail

14. Caudal fin present along the ventral and dorsal surfaces of Tail and forms dorsal and ventral lobe.

15. Anal fin present in the mid-ventral line. Length - 5 cm in front of caudal fin opposite to the second dorsal fin

16. Lateral Fins comprise of :

       a) 2 pairs of Pectoral Fin

       b) 2 pairs of Pelvic Fin

17. Pectoral Fins are large than pelvic fins

18. Pelvic fins has acopulatory organ in males called Clasper connected with its inner edge

19. An enlongated opening between the two pelvic fins called Cloacal Aperture

20. Lateral Line- a faint line running on either side of the body extending from head to the tail.



Common name - Hammer-headed shark

Habitat: marine shark live in deep water

Distribution: Tropical and Sub- tropical seas

Importance: It is caught for oil but yield is low

Characteristic Features:

1.Body - elongated

2. Body Length - 4-5 cm

3. Hammer-shaped head i.e. head is flattened in front and expanded sideways into 2 conspicuous lobes

4. Mouth - Crecentric and ventrally situated

5. Nostrils present ventrally at the base of the lateral lobes

6. Gills-slits - 5 pairs and laterally present

7.Spiracles absent

8. Viviparous

9.  Asterospondylus Vertebrae

10. Presence of 2 Dorsal Fin .First is situated in front of the pelvic fin and second is opposite to the Anal fin

11. Ferocious and attack its prey with its Head


Common name - Sting ray or Whip-tailed ray

Food: Carnivorous. food contain crustaceans, molluscs, and small fishes

Distribution: Tropical part of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans including the Pacific coasts of North and South America

Importance: Flesh of the fish is edible and liver yield a fair amount of oil

Pastinachus sephen Day.jpg

Characteristic Features:

1. Flat body. Sub-Rhomboidal disc

2. Ventrally located mouth

3. Pectoral fins are confluent with the sides of head

4. Front of mouth has a rectangular naso-frontal flap.

5. On the dorsal side behind the eyes spiracles are present

6. On the ventral side five pairs of gill - slits are present

7. Long, slender whip-like tail terminating in a small caudal fin and armed with a serrated poisonous spine or string

8. In male claspers are present near the pelvic fin 

9. Viviparous

10. It inflict wounds on its victim by means of string on the tail .


Common name - Saw fish

Food: Predaceous. Food comprises small fishes and flesh of males and other marine animals

Distribution: Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans particularly in America, West Indies, China and Gulf of Mexico. In India Pristis cuspidata and P. microdon species are found

Importance: Invaluable for liver oil of high vitamin value and skin for scale boards

Sketchbook of fishes - 25. (Longnose) Saw shark - William Buelow Gould, c1832

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: elongated, depressed and shark - like

2. Length: 3-6 m or even long

3. Rostral tentacles absent

4. Skull and Head prolonged into a long flattenedrostrum, the lateral margins of which are provided with a series of strong tooth-like denticles giving appearance of saw

5. Minute and obtuse teeth in jaws

6. Behind the eyes spiracles are present

7. Large dosal fin, first dorsal fin is opposite to the pelvic fin

8. Well-developed tail and is terminating in heterocercal caudal fin

5. Torpedo (Astrape)

Electric Ray.jpg

Common name: Electric Ray

Food:Carnivores. Food comprises of Crustaceans and Molluscs

Distribution: Mediterranean, Red sea, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Indian Ocean has T. marmorata species

Importance: Give heavy electric shocks

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: Flattened dorso-ventrally and sub-circular disc shaped

2. Smooth skin without scales

3. Anterior margin is semicircular which is upported by prenasal rostrum in centre and laterally by branched preorbital cartilage

4. Mouth: transverse and ventral

5. Quadrangular naso-frontal lobe present

6. Behind eyes spiracles present

7. Ventral gill-slits

8. In between the pectoral fins and head on either side - a pair of large eletric organs are present.

9. Viviparous

10. Tail: short and consist of :-

      a) 2 dorsal fins

      b) 1 caudal fin

6. Chimaera


Common name: Rat  fish or King of herrings

Distribution: Coasts of Europe from Norway to Portugal including the the Mediterranean and in neighbourhood of Azores, Cape of Good Hope and coasts of Japan

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: elongated and shark-like.

2. Body Length: 1m long

3. Naked skin with characteristic of open groove loding the lateral line system.

4. Large head and compressed with a blunt snout.

5. Ventral mouth and nostrils

6. Large Pectoral and Pelvic fins

7. 2 dorsal fins, anterior over the pectoral fins with a stout spine in front and posterior one is continuous

8.Caudal fin consists of equal-sized dorsal and ventral lobes.

9. Tail: long, tapering and diphycercal

10. Head possesses a Frontal clasper armed with a pad of recurved dentricles in male

11.Behind the Pelvic fins a pair of claspers are present

7. Notopterus


Common name: Chital

Geographical distribution: Marshes and lakes of fresh water and brackish water of West Africa, India, Burma and Malaya .In fresh water of India N. chital is found

Importance: Food fish, its flesh is uncommonly rich and well flavoured

Food: carnivorous, feed on worms and insects

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: compressed strongly and covered with minute scales

2. Body Length: 1 m long

3. Body Colour: coppery brown or grayish with 15 or 16 silvery transverse bars

4. Small head and large mouth

5. Obtuse and convex snout

6. Small dorsal fin

7. Pelvic fin and Pectoral fins are very small

8. Anal fin elongated and confluent with the caudal fin

9. On the head musciferous channels are well-developed

10. Large air bladder with several divisions

8. Labeo


Common name: Rohu

Geographical distribution: all over Northern and central India found in Godavari and Krishna rivers

Importance: Food value

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: elongated with moderately rounded abdomen

2. Body Length: 1 m long

3. Body Colour: Brownish grey to black

4. Large scales and orange to reddish colour in centre

5. Blunt snout with prominent head

6. Semi-oval and transverse mouth

7. Thick lips covering the jaws,one on both having an inferior transverse folds

8. Soft and movable horny covering with a sharp margins on the inner side of the one or both lips

9. Barbles absent

10. Large air-bladder and divided into an anterior and posterior part

9. Catla


Common name: Katla

Geographical distribution: Throughout India ,scare to south of Krishna river

Importance: Rich in food value

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: elongated broad and stout

2. Body Length: 1 m long

3. Body Colour: Above blackish grey and silvery on sides

4. Scales are pink or coppery in centre on dorsal side and whitish below

5. Dorsal part of the body is more convex

6. Large head with large rounded eyes

7. Wide mouth with prominent lips

8. Large dorsal fin

9. Caudal fin is bilobed

10. Large air-bladder and divided into an anterior and posterior part

10. Heteropneustes

Common name: Singhi

Geographical distribution: Fresh water of India and Burma

Heteropneustes fossilis Day

Charactersitic Features:

1. Body: elongated and laterally compressed

2. Body Length: 30 cm long

3. Scales absent on skin

4. Flattened head .eyes present with free circular margins

5. Barbles: long and 4 in pairs

6. Short dorsal fins without spine. At the level of the dorsal fin ventral fin is situated

7. Pectoral fin: strong with poison spine

8. Anal fin elongated, reaches upto the caudal fin separated from it by notch

9. Accessory breathing organs present

10. Air bladder present

11. Mystus


Geographical distribution: In India found in Jamuna, Ganga, Deccan rivers and Assam River

Habitat: Predatory. Attacks small carps, teleosts and prawns

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: elongated

2. Body Length: 1 m long

3. Long snout

4. Transverse and terminal mouth

5. Longer upper jaw

6. Barbles – 8

      a) 2 nasal
      b) 2 maxillary
      c) 4 mandibular

7. Dorsal adipose fin well-developed

8. On the adipose fin circular black spot is present

9. Pectoral fin has strong spine

12. Exocoetus


Common name: Flying-fish

Geographical distribution: In tropical and warm parts of Atlantic and Indian oceans .E. pecilopterus is found in Indian Ocean to china seas

Importance: Good edible fish and provide fishery and certain seasons

Food: Feeds on prawns and young teleost and their eggs

Characteristic Features:

1. Body: moderately elongated ,compressed and covered with cycloid scales

2. Body Colour: bluish and silvery below .Pectoral fins have black spots

3. Wide mouth ,both jaws bear teeth

4. Enormously elongated pectoral fins to form wing-like structures so as to serve as parachute to sustain the fish in its glinding leaps

5. Short dorsal and anal fins

6. Hypobatic tail i.e. ventral lobe of the tail fin is large

7. Air-bladder present

13. Hippocampus

Sea Horse.jpg