The earthworm eels, also known as the spineless eels, are a family (Chaudhuriidae) of small freshwater eel-like fish related to the swamp eels and spiny eels. The 10 known species (as of 2011[update]) are literally the size and shape of earthworms, thus the family name. While one species, the Burmese spineless eel (Chaudhuria caudata) was reported from the Inle Lake by Nelson Annandale in 1918, the others have been only recently reported (since the 1970s), all in the eastern Asia area, from India to Korea.
Neither the dorsal nor anal fins have spines, and in Nagaichthys and Pillaia they have fused with the caudal fin; in the other genera, the caudal is small but separate. Their bodies have no scales. The few specimens found to date have been no longer than 8 cm, and Nagaichthys filipes is only known to reach 3.1 cm. The eyes are small, covered in thick skin.
Almost nothing is known of the habits and biology of the earthworm eels.
The family name "Chaudhuriidae" comes from a Burmese local name for a fish.
- Annandale, N. 1918. Fish and fisheries of the Inlé Lake. Records of the Indian Museum, 14: 33–64
- 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.
- Kerle, R., R. Britz & K.L. Ng 2000. Habitat preference, reproduction and diet of the earthworm eel, Chendol keelini (Teleostei: Chaudhuriidae). Env. Biol. Fishes 57(4): 413–422.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Chaudhuriidae" in FishBase. May 2006 version.
- Ferraris, Carl J. Sven O. Kullander, Fang Fang (2004-01-10). "Earthworm eels (Chaudhuriidae) in Myanmar". Archived from the original on 2004-10-23. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
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