Monopterus albus
Belut - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Monopterus albus
Other names Asian Swamp Eel
Size Up to 1 m (3.2 ft)
Weight Up to .5 kg (1.10 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Fresh & brackish waters in muddy swamps, ponds, marshes & lakes
Depth Range 0 - 5 m (16 ft)
Belut Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Belut, also known as the Asian swamp eel or rice eel, is actually an invasive species in Australia and is not native to the country. It is commonly found in Queensland and the Northern Territory
  • It is a freshwater fish that can tolerate low-oxygen environments and can breathe air using a modified swim bladder.
  • The belut is a nocturnal predator that feeds on a variety of prey, including insects, small fish, and crustaceans.
  • It has a mottled brown or greenish-brown coloration with a lighter belly.
  • Females lay their eggs in burrows or shallow nests, where the male guards them until they hatch.
    They have a high reproductive rate and can lay up to 20,000 eggs per year.
  • Estimates of lifespan average 10 years but as long as 20 years with excellent living conditions.
  • This species is able to survive in a wide range of environmental conditions and is considered a highly adaptable and successful invader.
Species Interaction

Recreational & Commercial Fishing & Aquariums

In many parts of Asia, the eels are considered a delicacy and are harvested for consumption. They are also used in traditional medicine in some cultures. Another form of interaction with the belut or Asian swamp eel is through the aquarium trade. The eels are often kept as pets, but their aggressive and predatory behaviour can make them difficult to keep in captivity.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Synbranchiformes

Family: Synbranchidae

Genus: Monopterus

Species: Monopterus albus

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the belut or Asian swamp eel is currently listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is considered an invasive species in Australia and is not tracked here.

Fish Taste Quality

Belut are a edible fish but not a highly targeted species for consumption in Australia but is in Asia where it is considered a delicacy.

Taste Rating: not rated

How to catch

Catch Difficulty: Easy

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Fresh cut flesh baits, Prawns, Worms

Technique: Keep bait on the bottom

Popularity: Not targeted

As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Very Aggressive

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: With caution

Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

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