How Many Species of Eel Are There?

Species of eels come in all shapes and sizes.
Species of eels come in all shapes and sizes.

Eels are types of fish that are elongated, scaleless, and resemble snakes. Morays (freshwater eels) and Congers (marine eels) are the two genera of eels. Only the fresh water eels (Angullidae) are seen to be of economic importance and are valued as food. Their body length can range from 4 centimeters to as long as 4 meters. An adult eel can weigh up to 25kg. They range in color from gray, black to colorful and patterned, depending on the species.

How Many Species of Eel Are There?

The term “eel” was originally used to mean the European eel which belongs to order Anguilliformes. Over the years, the term has been used to connote all elongated snake-like fish despite the fact that they are not members of the Anguilliformes order. This explains why there are about 800 known eel species known to science.

Some of the notable species of eels include:

Heaviest Eel

European Conger - This is the heaviest species of eel with a length of 3 m and weight of 110 kg. It belongs to the family Congridae and inhabits northeast Atlantic areas of Iceland, Norway, and Senegal. They are also found in the Mediterranean Sea. European Congers are grayish-black in color, depending on the sex and age. The belly is white with small white spots along the lateral line.

Longest Eel

Slender Giant Moray - The longest species of eel at a recorded 4 m. It has a grayish-brown dorsal fin that slightly fades to white on the ventral. This species mostly feeds on crustaceans and small fish. They are found in the Indo-West Pacific Ocean and is fond of muddy ocean bottoms and estuarine areas.

Smallest Eel

Snyder’s Moray - This species of eel is also referred to as the Fine-spot Moray. It lives in the Pacific Ocean. Its body color is reddish brown, covered with brown and white spots. It is thought to be the smallest of all eels with a maximum body length of 11 cm. It mostly inhabits coral reefs.


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