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Monopterus albus

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Monopterus albus (common names: Swamp eel, Rice eel, White ricefield eel, Asian swamp eel) (Synonym: Fluta alba (Bloch and Schneider, 1801)) is an important air breathing commercial species of fish in the Synbranchidae family.

Monopterus albus has a meter or less (but usually 25 to 40 cm as an adult) scale-less cylindrical snake-like body with tapered tail and small eyes. Its body color is brown above and white or light-brown below. In adults, paired fins are lacking, and the dorsal, caudal and anal fins are reduced. The gill openings are merged into a single slit underneath the head while the mouth is large and protractile and both upper and lower jaws have tiny teeth for eating fishes, worms, crustaceans, and other small aquatic animals at night.

While it can survive temperatures below freezing, months without water, or saline waters; it is mostly found in warm fresh-waters locations such as muddy ponds, swamps, canals, and rice fields.

M. albus is native to Central and South America, Africa, Australia, and from India to eastern Asia. In recent years, M. albus has been reported in the United States in Hawaii, Florida, and Georgia.

Asian swamp eels are considered voracious, generalized predators. They lay their eggs into a bubble nest in shallow water. Adults breathe air through the mucosa lining of the gill arch. They move over dry land or create mud burrows in response to lack of water.

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