Earthworm eels (Chaudhuriidae) in Myanmar

The earthworm eels, or family Chaudhuriidae, are closely related to swamp eels (Synbranchidae) and spiny eels (Mastacembelidae) (Britz & Kottelat, 2003). They are much smaller, however, reaching only about 8 cm length or less. The dorsal and anal fins are long, extending for about half the length of the body and often confluent with the caudal fin. The eye is small, covered with thick skin. There are no spines and there is no rostral projection as in spiny eels. The gill openings are paired unlike in swamp eels. Chaudhuria caudata Annandale, 1918, has the caudal fin separate from the dorsal and anal fin. It is described from Inle Lake. Pillaia kachinica Kullander et al., 2000, is described on the basis of two specimens from Myitkyina, 55-61 mm long. It has the dorsal, anal and caudal fins confluent, forming a single low fin fold along the posterior half of the body. A specimen reported by Prashad & Mukerji (1929) from Kamaing as Chaudhuria caudata is probably a misidentified Pillaia kachinica.

Pillaia kachinica, holotype, 61 mm SL, from Myitkyina. Photo © Sven O Kullander
Pillaia kachinica, holotype, 61 mm SL, fom Myitkyina. Photo S.O. Kullander.

Other species in the family are known from India (genera Garo and Pillaia), Laos and Thailand (Chaudhuria), and the Indo-Malayan region (genera Bihunichthys, Chendol, and Nagaichthys).

Nothing is known about the biology of Chaudhuria caudata in Myanmar. Pillaia kachinica is collected from small streams bordering Myitkyina, but no observations were made in the field.


Annandale, N. 1918. Fish and fisheries of the Inlé Lake. Records of the Indian Museum, 14: 33-64.
Britz, R. & M. Kottelat. 2003. Descriptive Osteology of the family Chaudhuriidae (Teleostei, Synbranchiformes, Mastacembeloidei), with a discussion of its relationships. American Museum Novitates (3418): 1–62.
Kullander, S.O., R. Britz & F. Fang. 2000. Pillaia kachinica, a new chaudhuriid fish from Myanmar, with observations on the genus Garo (Teleostei: Chaudhuriidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 11: 327-334.
Prashad, B. & D.D. Mukerji. 1929. The fish of the Indawgyi Lake and the streams of the Myitkyina District (Upper Burma). Records of the Indian Museum, 31:161-223.
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