Different Types of Eels in the World

Different Types of Eels
Photo by David Clode

Eel is a ray-finned fish found in rivers and lakes worldwide. People also refer to them as elvers or eelyes. The name comes from their long slim bodies and ability to change direction at high speeds.

Eels are often confused with other types of fish, such as catfish and salmon. While they look similar, they are very different animals.

We can find most eels in shallow waters; they live in fresh waters and feed on worms, insects, and crustaceans.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss ten different types of eels in the world.

Electric Eel

The electric eel is one of the most prominent members of the Anguillidae family that hails from South America. People also refer to it as Electrophorus electricus, the most famous type of eel. They can grow up to 2 meters long and weigh over 100 kg.

Electric eels use electricity to stun prey before eating it. This method allows them to eat more quickly than most fish. They have been known to eat small mammals like mice, rats, frogs, and even baby alligators.

Though it’s called an electric eel, this fish is not an actual eel but a knife fish. Also, its electric current is strong enough to paralyze mammals as large as cows. However, they need air to survive, so they often surface to inhale oxygen.

Freshwater Eel

The freshwater eel is another popular one among the different types of eels. It is an elongated fish with a long snake-like body. Also, it belongs to the Anguilliformes order and lives in rivers and streams.

These eels prefer warmer water temperatures and usually stay between 10-30 degrees Celsius. They are primarily carnivorous and feed on aquatic invertebrates, including mollusks. Though they live in freshwater, they often move to saltwater habitats to breed.

They are commonly seen in aquariums, and people consider them one of the easiest fish to keep. Their diet consists mainly of zooplankton and insects. Humans also use freshwater eels for consumption because they taste good when cooked.

Giant Moray

The Giant Moray eel is the most prominent moray eel species. It has a distinctive black stripe along its back and grows up to 3 meters long. These eels are native to the Indo-Pacific region, specifically Australia and Indonesia. However, we can find them in tropical areas, especially coral reefs.

Unlike other eels, these fish do not swim by moving their fins. Instead, they use their tail fin to propel themselves through the water. They feed primarily on crabs, shrimp, and octopuses. However, if you see giant moray eels consuming plants, don’t be surprised; they are omnivores.

People often mistake giant morays for sharks because of their size. But unlike sharks, they don’t have sharp teeth. They only have two rows of needle-sharp teeth located near their gills. Also, they are characterized by their vast heads and broad snouts.

Moray eels are harmless to humans and sometimes kept as pets; some people even eat them. However, since they’re venomous, you should never handle them without gloves.

Beach Conger

Congers is a species of eels that inhabit coastal regions around the world. Beach conger eels are one of the most common types of congers, and we can find them in coral reefs and rocky areas.

Like other eels, beach conger eels are fast swimmers. They can reach up to 55 km/h (34 mph). They are nocturnal and spend their days hiding under rocks or sand at night. During the day, they hunt for food using their highly sensitive eyes.

Their diet includes crustaceans, worms, and mollusks. People consider them to be scavengers because they consume dead animals. And people who catch them sell them to restaurants.

Black-Spotted Eel

Black-spotted eels are also among the different types of eels and are very similar to sea snakes. Both are elapids and belong to the same family. However, black-spotted eels differ from sea snakes in coloration. Sea snakes are mostly grayish-brown, while black-spotted eels’ bodies are dark blue.

We can find this type of eel in shallow waters of temperate climates. Like other eels, this fish prefers warm water temperatures. Its habitat extends from the Arctic Ocean to the Antarctic Ocean.

Black-spotted Eels are predators and feed on small fishes, shrimps, crabs, and amphipods. They are greedy hunters, though.

But like some other eels, they are not harmful to humans. However, keep them away from children if you want to keep them.

Half-Banded Spiny Eel

Half-banded eel is another different type of eel that belongs to Anguilliformes. We can find them in rivers and streams throughout Asia and Africa. They live in freshwater bodies of water and feed on aquatic invertebrates such as crayfish, shrimp, and tadpoles.

Half-banded eels are bottom dwellers because they prefer to stay close to the river bottom. Their body shape is elongated with a pointed head.

Further, these eels are not aggressive towards humans. If you accidentally touch them, they will let go. You can quickly identify half-banded spiny eels by their banding pattern. And fishers find them easy to catch during fishing activities.

Fimbriated Moray Eel

Fimbriated Moray Eel is a fish species under the classification of eels. They have a yellowish-greenish color with black spots over their body. We can find these eels in tropical and subtropical oceans.

They are carnivorous and feed on small fishes. People consider them to be the largest predatory fish in the ocean. Also, some scientists say that fimbriated moray eels are the fastest fish in the ocean.

However, these eels are dangerous to humans. The reason why they are so dangerous is that they bite hard. So, it’s better to avoid touching them.

The venomous fangs of these eels can cause severe pain and even death. But fortunately, there are no reports of deaths caused by these eels.

Synder’s Moray

Synder’s Moray is the smallest of the different types of eels. Its body color is reddish-brown, with white spots spread all over the body. It has a long tail fin and a large mouth, which we can find in the shallow coastal waters of Australia and New Zealand.

This fish eats plankton and tiny organisms, and we catch them using baited hooks. People consider Synder’s Morays to be harmless to humans. However, if you happen to get bitten by one, immediately seek medical help.

Slender Giant Moray

In the Moray family, the Slender Giant Moray is their longest. This fish has an average length of about 2 meters (6 feet). We can find it in the region of the Indo-West Pacific Ocean. So, it lives in the deep seas of the Pacific Oceans and feeds on crustaceans, and we can find them near coral reefs and rocky areas.

 Its dorsal fin is greyish-brown, and its anal fins are pink. These eels are very active and move quickly through the sea. Also, it breathes air through the gills instead of the lungs.

Grey Conger

The Grey Conger Eel is an eel species native to the Caribbean Sea. It is a member of the family Congridae and genus Rhomboplites. Its scientific name comes from the Greek words kongros, meaning “eel,” and plitos, meaning “flat.”

We usually find these eels at depths up to 100 meters below the surface. They spend most of their time hiding in crevices or holes in the reef.

Congers eat bivalves, crabs, mollusks, shrimps, octopuses, and other similar animals. In addition, they feed on dead fishes.

Ocellated Spiny Eel

Ocellated spiny eels are also among the different types of eels, and the other name is the African Spiny eel because of their spines. These eels are not eels at all but belong to the family Synbranchidae.

They are native to Africa, and we can often find them in shallow waters. Also, they are usually brownish and have vertical stripes and blotches on their bodies. They are pretty small, growing up to about 6 inches long.

These eels live in rivers, lakes, and estuaries and are shy creatures who prefer to stay out of sight. They feed primarily on worms, insects, and other invertebrates. Their diet includes snails, shrimp, and crabs.

Beach Conger

Beach Conger Eels are mainly in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and grow to lengths of up to four feet. We can also call them “Pacific Sandfish” because of their sand-like skin texture. These fish are not related to any other fish species.

Their skin is covered with hundreds of microscopic spikes that give them a rough appearance. Also, the spikes have calcium carbonate, making this fish hard to see when swimming.

We can keep them alive for food and eat them as sushi, sashimi, and tempura when caught.

Longfin African Conger

The Longfin African Conger is the last on our list of the different types of eels. We can find them in tropical oceans around the globe. It is about 4 feet long and lives at depths 250 below the surface.

Its teeth are very sharp, and it has a dark brown body with yellow spots on its head and fins. It feeds mainly on crabs and small fish.

Also, they’re famous for attacking divers and fishers. So, if you come across one, try avoiding getting too close.

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