name = Remora

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Spearfish remora, "Remora brachyptera"
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Perciformes
familia = Echeneidae
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision ="Echeneis"
See text for species.
synonyms = Echeneididae

Remoras or suckerfish are elongate brown fish in order Perciformes and family Echeneidae. [FishBase family | family = Echeneidae | month = January | year = 2006] [ITIS | ID = 168567 | taxon = Echeneidae | date = 20 March | year = 2006] They grow up to 30–90 centimetres long (1–3 ft), and their distinctive first dorsal fin takes the form of a modified oval sucker-like organ with slat-like structures that open and close to create suction and take a firm hold against the skin of larger marine animals. By sliding backward, the remora can increase the suction, or it can release itself by swimming forward. Remoras sometimes attach themselves to small boats. They also swim well on their own, with a sinuous motion.

Remoras are primarily tropical open-ocean dwellers, occasionally found in temperate or coastal waters if they have attached to large fish that have wandered into these areas. In the mid-Atlantic, spawning usually takes place in June and July; in the Mediterranean, in August and September. The sucking disc begins to show when the young fish are about 1 centimetre long. When the remora reaches about 3 centimetres, the disc is fully formed and the remora is then able to hitch a ride. The remora's lower jaw projects beyond the upper, and there is no swim bladder.

Some remoras associate primarily with specific host species. Remoras are commonly found attached to sharks, manta rays, whales, turtles, and dugong (hence the common names sharksucker and whalesucker). Smaller remoras also fasten onto fish like tuna and swordfish, and some small remoras travel in the mouths or gills of large manta rays, ocean sunfish, swordfish, and sailfish.

The relationship between remoras and their hosts is most often taken to be one of commensalism, specifically phoresy. The host they attach to for transport gains nothing from the relationship, but also loses little. The remora benefits by using the host as transport and protection and also feeds on materials dropped by the host. There is some controversy over whether a remora's diet is primarily leftover fragments, or actually the feces of the host. In some species ("Echeneis naucrates" and "E. neucratoides") consumption of host feces is strongly indicated in gut dissections. [cite journal | author = E. H. Willams et al. | year = 2003 | title = Echeneid-sirenian associations, with information on sharksucker diet | journal = Journal of Fish Biology | volume = 63 | issue = 5 | pages = 1176–1183 | doi = 10.1046/j.1095-8649.2003.00236.x] For other species, such as those found in a host's mouth, scavenging of leftovers is more likely. Many sources Fact|date=March 2007 also suggest that for some remora/host pairings the relationship is closer to mutualism, with the remora cleaning bacteria and other parasites from the host.


There are eight species in four genera:
* Genus "Echeneis"
** Live sharksucker, "Echeneis naucrates" Linnaeus, 1758.
** Whitefin sharksucker, "Echeneis neucratoides" Zuiew, 1786.
* Genus "Phtheirichthys"
** Slender suckerfish, "Phtheirichthys lineatus" (Menzies, 1791).
* Genus "Remora"
** Whalesucker, "Remora australis" (Bennett, 1840).
** Spearfish remora, "Remora brachyptera" (Lowe, 1839).
** Marlin sucker, "Remora osteochir" (Cuvier, 1829).
** Common remora, "Remora remora" (Linnaeus, 1758).
* Genus "Remorina"
** White suckerfish, "Remorina albescens" (Temminck & Schlegel, 1850).

The fishing fish

Some cultures have used remoras to catch turtles. A cord or rope is fastened to the remora's tail, and when a turtle is sighted the fish is released from the boat; it usually heads directly for the turtle and fastens itself to the turtle's shell, and then both remora and turtle are hauled in. Smaller turtles can be pulled completely into the boat by this method, while larger ones are hauled within harpooning range. This practice has been reported throughout the Indian Ocean, especially from eastern Africa near Zanzibar and Mozambique, [cite journal | author = E. W. Gudger | year = 1919 | title = On the Use of the Sucking-Fish for Catching Fish and Turtles: Studies in "Echeneis" or "Remora", II., Part 1. | journal = The American Naturalist | volume = 53 | issue = 627 | pages = 289–311 | url = | doi = 10.1086/279716] and from northern Australia near Cape York and Torres Strait. [cite journal | author = E. W. Gudger | year = 1919 | title = On the Use of the Sucking-Fish for Catching Fish and Turtles: Studies in "Echeneis" or "Remora", II., Part 2 | journal = The American Naturalist | volume = 53 | issue = 628 | pages = 446–467 | url = | doi = 10.1086/279724] [gutenberg|no=12525|name=Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake (Dr. Gudger's accounts are more authoritative, but this source is noted as an early account that Gudger appears to have missed.)]

Similar reports have also come from Japan and from the Americas. In fact, some of the first records of the "fishing fish" in the Western literature come from the accounts of the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. However, Leo Wiener considers the Columbus accounts to be apocryphal: what was taken for accounts of the Americas may have in fact been notes that Columbus derived from accounts of the East Indies, his desired destination. [cite journal | author = Leo Wiener | year = 1921 | title = Once more the sucking-fish | journal = The American Naturalist | volume = 55 | issue = 637 | pages = 165–174 | url = | doi = 10.1086/279802]


In ancient times, the remora was believed to stop a ship from sailing. In Latin "remora" means "delay," while the genus name "Echeneis" comes from Greek "echein" ("to hold") and "naus" ("a ship"). Particularly notable is the account of Pliny the Younger, in which the remora is blamed for the defeat of Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium and (indirectly) for the death of Caligula. [cite book | author = Pliny the Elder | title = Natural History | chapter = Book 32, Chapter 1 (cited in cite journal | author = E. W. Gudger | year = 1930 | title = Some old time figures of the shipholder, "Echeneis" or "Remora", holding the ship | journal = Isis | volume = 13 | issue = 2 | pages = 340–352 | url = | doi = 10.1086/346461]

Because of the shape of the jaws, appearance of the sucker, and coloration of the remora, it sometimes appears to be swimming upside-down. This probably led to the older common name "reversus", although this might also derive from the fact that the remora frequently attaches itself to the tops of manta rays or other fish, so that the remora in fact is upside-down while attached.


External links

* [ National Aquarium Article About Remoras]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Remora — Remora …   Wikipédia en Français

  • rémora — [ remɔra ] n. m. • 1562; lat. remora « retardement », de remorari « retarder, arrêter » 1 ♦ Zool. Poisson téléostéen (perciformes), dont la tête est pourvue sur la face supérieure d un disque adhésif qui lui permet de s attacher à de gros… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Remora — Rem o*ra (r?m ?*r?), n. [L.: cf. F. r[ e]mora.] [1913 Webster] 1. Delay; obstacle; hindrance. [Obs.] Milton. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of several species of fishes belonging to {Echeneis}, {Remora}, and allied genera. Called also… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Remora — Rem o*ra (r?m ?*r?), n. [L.: cf. F. r[ e]mora.] [1913 Webster] 1. Delay; obstacle; hindrance. [Obs.] Milton. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of several species of fishes belonging to {Echeneis}, {Remora}, and allied genera. Called also… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • remora (1) — {{hw}}{{remora (1)}{{/hw}}s. f. 1 (lett.) Indugio, freno: porre una remora alla corruzione. 2 Scia laterale di nave. remora (2) {{hw}}{{remora (2)}{{/hw}}s. f. Pesce osseo marino con corpo slanciato, che ha sul capo un disco adesivo a ventosa con …   Enciclopedia di italiano

  • remora — remóra s. f. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  REMÓRA s. f. peşte având un disc adeziv pe cap, cu care se fizează pe funduri de bărci, de corăbii. (< fr. rémora, lat. remora) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa:… …   Dicționar Român

  • remoră — REMÓRĂ s.f. Peşte având un disc adeziv pe cap, cu care se fixează pe funduri de bărci, de corăbii. [< it. remora, fr. rémora, lat. remora]. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN …   Dicționar Român

  • REMORA — Graecis ἐχενηῒς, a navibus sistendis, seu retinendis; item Ναυκράτης, ab eadem causa: Latinis aliter Remeligo: Plautus, Casinâ, Actu 4. sc. 3. v. 7. secundum quosdam. Nam quid illae tam diu intus remorantur remeliigines. Pisciculus dicitur, cui… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • rémora — sustantivo femenino 1. (macho y hembra) Familia Echeneidae. Pez teleósteo marino de color grisaceo, que se une con una especie de ventosa que tiene en la cara superior de la cabeza a objetos flotantes o a otros peces mayores, con los que convive… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • remora — / rɛmora/ s.f. [dal lat. remŏra, der. di mora indugio ], lett. 1. [spec. al plur., ciò che ritarda o ostacola qualcosa: non porre remore ] ▶◀ freno, impedimento, intralcio, ostacolo. 2. [spec. al plur., ciò che trattiene dall agire: non avere… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • remora — sucking fish, 1560s, from L. remora, lit. delay, hindrance, from re back + mora delay; so called because the fish were believed by the ancients to retard a vessel to which they attached themselves. Pliny writes that Antony s galley was delayed by …   Etymology dictionary

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