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Anguilla japonica:   (click for more)

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  • Muraena pekinensis  Basilewsky, 1855, 1855:246, pl.3 (fig. 2)(Nouv.Mem.Soc.Imp.Natur., Moscou, 10)(China).
  • Anguilla angustidens  Kaup, 1856:49, pl.7 (fig.39) (Cat. Apodal Fish)(no locality).
  • Anguilla bostonensis  Günther, 1870:30 (Cat. Fish.Brit. Mus., VIII)(Japan, Formosa, China).
  • Anguilla remifera  Jordan and Evermann, 1902:325, fig.7 (Proc. U. S. Natl. Mus., 25) (Hokoto, Taiwan).
  • Anguilla manabei  Jordan, 1913:359, pl. 3(fig.2) (Proc.U.S.Natl.Mus.,44(nº 1957)(Yoshino river bassin, Shikoku, Japan).
  • Muraena japonica  Fowler, 1932:49, fig.1 (HK.Nat., III)(S.China, Formosa, Japan).
    FAO Names
    En - Japanese eel, Fr - Anguille du Japon, Sp - Anguila japonesa.
    3Alpha Code: ELJ     Taxonomic Code: 1430200204
    Scientific Name with Original Description
    Anguilla japonica  Temminck and Schlegel, 1847. Fauna Japonica, Fisches. :258, pl. 63, fig.2. Nagasaki.
    Diagnostic Features
    Body elongate, cylindrical anteriorly, compressed posteriorly, fleshy and smooth.  Mouth corner extending to posterior margin of eyes. Lower jaw slightly longer than upper. Lips with fold, symmetrical. Snout depressed and stout.  Distance between dorsal fin origin and vent varies from 9.0 to 13.5 % of total body length. Head length 11.2 to 11.9 % in body length. Upper jaw length contained from 3.7 to 4.3 times in head length. Length of pectoral fin from 2.2 to 3.7 % of head length.  Teeth small, conical, in cardiform bands on jaws and vomer. Maxillary teeth in a narrow band. Vomerine teeth band slightly broader and longer than (or as long as) that of maxillary (Chen & Weng, 1967).  Dorsal and anal fins confluent with caudal fin. Distance between origins of dorsal and anal shorter than head length.  Body covered with rudimentary imbedded scales which arranged in small groups and placed obliquely at right angles to those of neighboring groups.  Plain-colored, not marbled or mottled. Specimens in alcohol are uniformly dark brown on the back and lighter on the belly.  114 to 117 vertebrae (average 115.8) (Lindberg & Legeza, 1969). 
    Geographical Distribution
    Pacific coasts of Japan and further south to Hainan Island and northern Philippines: Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, East China Sea; South China Sea and Philippine Sea (Lindberg & Legeza, 1969; Smith, 1999).
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    Habitat and Biology
    Young eels enter rivers in small shoals from February to May, and ascend to upper reaches of rivers and mountain lakes.After several years in fresh waters and with onset of sexual maturity, the eels migrate downstream and enter the sea from August to October (Lindberg & Legeza, 1969). Tsukamoto & Arai (2001) confirm the occurrence of marine residents of the japanese eel, Anguilla japonica, which have never entered freshwater (sea eels). There are 3 general categories of migratory history: river eels (23 % of all specimens examined), estuarine eels (20 % of specimens) and sea eels ( 57 % of all specimens). A. japonica has a flexible pattern of migration, with an ability to adapt to various habitats and salinities. Thus, anguillid eel migrations into freshwater are clearly not an obligatory migratory pathway, and this form of diadromy should be defined as facultative catadromy, with the sea eel as one of several ecophenotypes.Adults feeds on benthic crustaceans, bony fish and insects.
    The Japanese eel and the Atlantic eels have very similar migratory and recruitement styles (Tsukamoto, 1992). The spawning of A. japonica occurred near some of the seamounts in the West Mariana Ridge: the average total lengths of the leptocephali around the seamount were significantly smaller than in other areas examined. Most leptocephali were born during the new moon, which support the hypothesis that A. japonica spawns around the new moon. Analysis of otolith shows that the average daily growth rate was about 0.5 mm/day (Ishikama et al., 2001). Sasai et al. (2001) collected 72 silver phase Japanese eel (black metallic colour and enlarged eyes) in the northeast region of the East China Sea: all females, greater than 400 mm, had started ovarian maturation with gonad somatic indices of 1.3 to 3.5; they appeared to be passing through sampling areas on their spawning migration to the region just west of the Mariana Islands in the Philippine Sea. Experiments of Aoyama et al. (1999) with tagged female Japanese silver eels suggest that pre-matured A. japonica migrate to their spawning grounds in temperate warm water and at shallow depths. Cheng & Tzeng (1996) examining elvers of the Japanese eel collected from 6 estuaries in Taiwan, China and Japan found that the age upon arrival at the estuaries (mean +/- SD) was 154.71 +/- 10.69 to 182.06 +/- 12.43 d, while age at metamorphosis was 115.8 +/- 8.13 to 137.85 +/- 11.28 d. Both ages showed a geographic cline that increased from south to north. The time from metamorphosis to arrival at the estuaries averaged 31.73 +/- 7.58 to 45.02 +/- 9.21 d. 
    Maximum size: 150.0 cm TL; maximum weigh: 1 kg.
    Interest to Fisheries
    Highly commercial. Aquaculture. An important food fish in China and Japan (it is the most expensive food fish in Japan). Introduced elsewhere (Cambodia, Thailand, Brazil). Utilized fresh, smoked, canned and frozen. Eaten steamed, broiled and baked.
    Local Names
    BRAZIL : Enguia-japonesa .
    FINLAND : Japaninankerias .
    FRANCE : Anguille du Japon .
    GERMANY : Japanischer Aal .
    ICELAND : Japansk ål .
    ITALY : Anguilla giapponese .
    NETHERLANDS : Japanse paling .
    PHILIPPINES : Igat .
    POLAND : Wegorz japonski .
    PORTUGAL : Enguia-japonesa .
    RUSSIAN FED. : Yaponskiy ugor' .
    SPAIN : Anguila japonesa .
    TURKEY : Japon yilan baligi .
    UNITED KINGDOM : Japanese eel .
    USA : Japanese eel .
    Aoyama, J., K. Hissmann, T. Yoshinaga, S. Sasai, T. Uto & H. Ueda - 1999. Swimming depth of migrating silver eels Anguilla japonica released at seamounts of the West Mariana Ridge, their estimated spawning sites. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. .  186, 265-269 ..
    Bauchot, M.-L, M. Desoutter & P. H. J. Castle - 1993. Catalogue critique des types de poissons du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle. Cybium .  17 (no. 2): 91-151 ..
    Chen,J.T.F & H.T.C. Weng - 1967. A review of the Apodal fishes of Taiwan. Biol. Bull. .  32:1-86 ..
    Cheng PW & Tzeng WN. - 1996. Timing of metamorphosis and estuarine arrival across the dispersal range of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. .  131: 87-96 ..
    Ege,V. - 1939. A revision of the genus Anguilla Shaw. A systematic, phylogenetic, and geographical study. Dana Rept. .  16: 255 p ..
    Eldredge, L.G. - 1994. Freshwater fishes In L.G. Eldredge, Perspectives in aquatic exotic species management in the Pacific Islands. Vol. 1. Introductions of commercially significant aquatic organisms to the Pacific Islands. South Pacific Commission, New Caledonia. .  p. 73-84 ..
    Frimodt, C. - 1995. Multilingual illustrated guide to the world's commercial coldwater fish. Fishing News Books, Osney Mead, Oxford, England. .  215 p ..
    Ishikawa, S., Suzuki, K., Inagaki, T., Watanabe, S., Kimura, Y., Okamura, A., Otake, T., Mochioka, N., Suzuki, Y., Hasumoto, H., Oya, M., Miller, M.J., Lee, T.W., Fricke, H. & K. Tsukamoto - 2001. Spawning time and place of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica in the North Equatorial Current of the western North Pacific Ocean. Fish. Sci. .  67 (6):1097-1103 ..
    Lindberg, G.U & M.I. Legeza - 1969. Fishes of the Sea of Japan and the adjacent areas of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Yellow Sea.Part 2Israel Program Scientific Translations, Jerusalem. .  389 p ..
    Man, S.H. & I.J. Hodgkiss - 1981. Hong Kong freshwater fishes. Urban Council, Wishing Printing Company, Hong Kong. .  75 p ..
    Masuda, H., K. Amaoka, C. Araga, T. Uyeno & T. Yoshino - 1984. The fishes of the Japanese Archipelago. Vol. 1 (text). Tokai University Press, Tokyo, Japan. .  437 p. (text), 370 pls. 21, pl. 24 ..
    Sasai, S., J. Aoyama, S. Watanabe, T. Kaneko, M. J. Miller & K. Tsukamoto - 2001. Occurrence of migrating silver eels Anguilla japonica in the East China Sea. Mar.Ecol. Progr. Ser. .  212:305-310 ..
    Smith, D.G. - 1997. Anguillidae. Freshwater eels. In K.E. Carpenter and V.H. Niem (eds.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the WCP. Vol. 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome. .  p. 1630-1636 ..
    Tsukamoto, K. - 1992. Discovery of the spawning area for Japanese eel. Nature. .  356:789-791 ..
    Tsukamoto, K., A. Umezawa & T. Ozawa - 1992. Age and growth of Anguilla japonica leptocephali collected in western North Pacific in July 1990. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi .  58(3):457-459 ..
    Tsukamoto, K. & T. Arai - 2001. Facultative catadromy of the eel Anguilla japonica between freshwater and seawater habitats. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. .  220: 1599-1616 ..
    Welcomme, R.L. - 1988. International introductions of inland aquatic species. FAO Fish. Tech. Pap. No. 294. .  318 p ..
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