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5 Fish Named After Parts of Animals (With Photos)

The author is a research enthusiast. She studied botany and zoology as major subjects in her bachelor's program.

Read on to learn about five fishes named after parts of animals.

Read on to learn about five fishes named after parts of animals.

Fish Named After Body Parts of Animals

The kingdom Animalia is full of wonderful creatures, and fishes are one huge part of that kingdom. As humans learned about their kind, they were given names based on their resemblance to other animals. But some fish are actually named after the different body parts of other animals.

In this article, I have shared the facts and photos of the following five fish that are named after body parts of other animals.

  1. Foxface rabbitfish (Siganus vulpinus).
  2. Elephant-nose fish (Gnathonemus petersii).
  3. California sheepshead fish (Semicossyphus pulcher).
  4. Cownose ray fish (Rhinoptera bonasus).
  5. Eeltail catfish (Tandanus tandanus).

1. Foxface Rabbitfish

The Foxface rabbitfish is a species of marine ray-finned fish that is found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It was first described by German zoologists Hermann Schlegel and Salomon Muller. It has a compressed body and attains a maximum length of 25 cm.

The color of the body is a vivid yellow and white on the head. It remains active during the day (diurnal) and feeds on algae, seagrass, and small invertebrates. During camouflage, it quickly changes its color to dark brown.

Foxface rabbitfish, Bicolored Foxface, and Blotched Foxface belong to the same genus Siganus. There are a total of 29 species in this genus. The species having prominent face stripes are called "Foxfaces."

Venomous Spines

The dorsal, anal, and pelvic spines of the Foxface fish contain grooves and poison glands. That can cause a painful sting, and the sting is about 2/3 worse than a bee sting. There is little information about the toxicity of the venom of Foxface. In a study, it was found that the venom of the Foxface is similar to the venom of stonefish. The venom of the stonefish is thought to be incredibly unstable.

Interesting Facts

  • When in danger, the Foxface fish take on a splotchy appearance that is not colorful.
  • It contains large intestines because it is an herbivorous grazer, meaning it mainly feeds on plants.
  • For breeding, Foxface rabbitfish tend to pair up when they are juveniles and are thought to pair up for life.
Elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii)

Elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii)

2. Elephantnose Fish

Gnathonemus Petersii, or Elephantnose fish, is an African freshwater elephant fish that is native to West and Central Africa. It is also known as the long-nosed elephant fish and the Ubangi mormyrid. It contains a long, highly sensitive, and trunk-like extension on the chin that gives it the specific name "Elephantnose fish" or "long-nosed fish." This extension is actually not a nose: it is a sensitive extension of the mouth used for communication, self-defense, and finding insects to eat.

Electrolocation in Elephantnose Fish

In the course of evolution, many different sensory systems have developed. In electrolocation, the animals use their electroreceptive senses to detect objects around them. Many fish use electric fields to find prey. For this purpose, the Elephantnose fish uses a weak electric field to find food and a mate.

This field is produced by an electric organ known as the Schnauzenorgan. This organ is covered with electroreceptors. The electric field is produced by a synchronous discharge through an electric organ. The fish has three different types of receptors to receive electric signals:

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  • Mormyromasts
  • Knollenorgans
  • Ampullary receptors

The Mormyromasts

These receptors are used to detect the self-emitted electric organ discharges (EODs) during active electrolocation. Mormyromasts' organs contain inner and outer sensory chambers. These receptors enable the fish to navigate in murky water.

The Knollenorgans

These receptors are also known as "communication receptors" because they detect the electric organ discharges of other Elephantnose fishes. They are mainly present on the head and the caudal regions of the flank.

The Ampullary Receptors

The ampullary receptors are used to measure the weak electric field produced by other aquatic animals.

Some Interesting Facts

  • It's easy to hear the electric signal produced by the Elephantnose fish through simple equipment, such as a small amplifier.
  • In Elephantnose fish, the brain is responsible for 60% of body O2 consumption, and this is three times higher than that of any other vertebrate, including man.
  • It is nocturnal by nature and becomes more active at dusk.
  • Electrolocation in elephantnose fish is an adaptation, which enables fish to increase their activity in the hours of darkness.
California Sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher)

California Sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher)

3. California Sheephead

The California Sheephead is a species of wrasse, and they can live for up to 20 years. This carnivorous fish lives on the rocky reef and feeds on mollusks, sea urchins, and crustaceans. The male and female sheepheads have different body shapes and color patterns. The male is larger, with a black tail and head. Females are smaller and dull pink. Their life span is 21 years.

Interesting Facts

  • The young Sheephead doesn't resemble an adult; it is bright reddish-orange with large black spots on its dorsal and upper tail fins.
  • They are large wrasses, weighing 16 kg and growing up to 3 ft long.
  • Wild species can live incredibly long times. Its maximum life span is 53 years.

4. Cownose Ray

This is a species of Eagle ray that is a cartilaginous fish. It is named "Cownose ray" because of its facial resemblance to a cow's nose. It reaches 45 inches in width and weighs around 23 kg. These rays typically swim in groups and eat bottom-dwelling shellfish, calms, hard calms, and other invertebrates.

Danger to Humans

Cownose rays contain poisonous stingers that can cause a painful wound that requires medical attention. When threatened, the Cownose rays use their barbs to sting the aggressor. Shigella may be developed by eating the meat of Cownose rays that are not carefully collected. Consumption of these bacteria can result in fever, diarrhea, and dehydration.

The Birth of a Cownose Ray

Some Interesting Facts

  • A baby Cownose ray may be called a "pup."
  • It gives birth to a single offspring every year.
  • It contains extremely robust jaws that contain hard teeth comparable to cement.

5. Eeltail Catfish

This fish is named "eel-tail" because its tail is elongated in an eel-like fashion. This family includes 41 species in 10 genres. The tail is bluntly rounded and most species have four pairs of barbels. Barbels are used to detect the food. Catfish stings can cause painful wounds. The sting of Plotosus lineatus may cause death. The spines of the dorsal fins are covered with poisonous mucus.

Osmoregulation in Eeltail Catfishes

Osmoregulation is the process of maintaining a balance of salt and water in an animal's body. The primary organs for osmoregulation in fishes are the gills, kidneys, and digestive tract. In catfishes, an extra-branchial salt-secreting dendritic organ is present for osmoregulation. This fleshy dendritic organ is present on the ventral caudal surface of catfishes. This organ is a product of convergent evolution. Catfishes use osmoregulation to fight the processes of diffusion and osmosis.

Marine eel-tailed catfish

Marine eel-tailed catfish

Interesting Facts

  • Anodontiglanis Dahli is a toothless species of catfish.
  • The baby Eeltail catfish is known as a "fry."
  • Their skin is very smooth because of the absence of scales.
  • They can't be eaten because their venom can cause severe wounds.
  • They are opportunistic eaters: they eat almost everything they get.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 EK Jadoon

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