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The cusk-eel family (Ophidiidae) is a group of marine bony fishes in the order Ophidiiformes. The scientific name is from the Greek ophis meaning "snake", and refers to their eel-like appearance. However, they can be distinguished from true eels of the order Anguilliformes by their ventral fins, which are developed into a forked barbel-like organ below the mouth in the cusk-eels; in the true eels by contrast they are never well-developed and usually missing entirely.[1]

They are found in temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world. They live close to the sea bottom, ranging from shallow water to depths below 2,000 m (6,600 ft). One species, Abyssobrotula galatheae, was reportedly caught in a trawl net at the bottom of the Puerto Rico trench, which would make it the deepest recorded fish at 8,370 m (27,460 ft).[2] However, since no others have been seen at such depths, it is now thought it was caught at a shallower depth.

The largest species, Lamprogrammus shcherbachevi, grows up to 2 m (6.6 ft) in length, but most species are shorter than 1 m. Unlike their close relatives, the viviparous brotulas of the Bythitidae, they are egg-laying, and the larvae live amongst the plankton, relatively close to the surface.[2]

A few species are fished commercially, most notably the pink cusk-eel, Genypterus blacodes.


The cusk-eel family contains about 240 species, grouped into 50 genera:[3]
Subfamily Brotulinae

Subfamily Brotulotaenilinae

Subfamily Neobythitinae

Subfamily Ophidiinae



  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Ophidiidae" in FishBase. February 2006 version.
  2. ^ a b Neilsen, Jørgen G. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
  3. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). "Ophidiidae" in FishBase. December 2008 version.


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