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Razor Shell

Theme area:  Tropical aquarium
Scientific name:  Aeoliscus strigatus
Class:  Fish
Order:   Vertebrates
Suborder:   Centriscidea
Family:   Actinopterygius
,  Asia
,  Oceania
Habitat:  Oceans and seas
Diet:  Piscivore
Weight:  n/a
Size:  15 cm

This razor is neither sharp nor boring. On the other hand, this creature really looks like a blade, with its particular tapered body shape, crossed by a black line, showing a silver colour and a curvature on its underside. Hence the name razor shell or striped knifefish.

The true scientific name is Aeoliscus strigatus and some also call it a striped shrimpfish but this is only because of its diet based on these small crustaceans. To feed, they suck in tiny prey (planktonic crustaceans, small copepods, bony fish larvae, etc.) through a tube-shaped mouth.

They have the unique feature of living in an upright position, with their heads downwards. Their way of moving is unusual, with only its very small fins moving and the rest of the body not undulating. These creatures are, however, fast and mobile. If there is danger, they quickly take refuge in reef crevices or in diadem urchins.

They behave gregariously and groups of razor shells have highly synchronised movements. All these particularities make it fascinating to observe.

A small fish (15 cm on average), it lives in coral reefs, between areas of seagrass and algae beds, and swims close to the bottom at a depth of 1 to 35 m. It is found in the Indo-Pacific area, particularly in the Seychelles, Tanzania, New Caledonia and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Razor shell numbers do not appear to be immediately threatened but it is extremely dependent on the coral reefs in which it lives. If coral bleaching persists as a result of global warming, then it will be in danger.

In 2019, Marineland's aquarist teams have accomplished the feat of - naturally - breeding razor fish.

Extinct in the wild
Critically endangered
Near threatened
Least concern
Insufficient data
Not evaluated


It feeds on planktonic crustaceans and bony fish larvae.