In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of eels out there. From freshwater eels and saltwater eels to conger eels and moray eels plus all the other eel types in between!
An eel is any ray-finned fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera, and about 800 species. Eels undergo considerable development from the early larval stage to the eventual adult stage, and most are predators.Eel – Wikipedia
Freshwater and Saltwater Eels
Freshwater eels have long snake-like bodies with a merged elongated ridge-like fin. These types of eels live in freshwater for most of their lives. However, they migrate to saltwater habitats to mate/breed.
On the other hand, saltwater eels are longer and more cylinder-like than freshwater eels. These kinds of eels also have a more defined set of gills.
All eels travel to the Sargasso see to mate. Read, why do eels migrate? for more information on their long journey which ends with their death.
Moray and Conger Eels
The moray eel ranges from 5 inches to 13 feet in length. They are also carnivorous eels. If you ever had doubt whether eels are dangerous or not, then the moray eel will definitely let you know (hint, they are).
Moray eels, or Muraenidae (/ˈmɒreɪ, məˈreɪ/), are a family of eels whose members are found worldwide. There are approximately 200 species in 15 genera which are almost exclusively marine, but several species are regularly seen in brackish water, and a few are found in fresh water.Moray eel – Wikipedia
Congers are scaleless eels with large heads, large gill slits, wide mouths, and strong teeth. They are usually grayish to blackish, with paler bellies and black-edged fins. They too are carnivorous eels.
Conger (/ˈkɒŋɡər/ KONG-gər) is a genus of marine congrid eels. It includes some of the largest types of eels, ranging up to 3 m (10 ft) in length, in the case of the European conger.Conger – Wikipedia
I keep mentioning that eels are carnivorous for a reason. They are not like guppies where you can just play with them or swim alongside them. If they feel provoked, much like random octopus attacks, they will attack a human. Nonetheless, you can buy these fish online as pets.
Beach conger eels live in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean and reach lengths of up to 4 feet (see where do eels live? for more info). And, don’t worry they don’t usually crawl up on the shoreline of the beach but they are usually pretty close to it in the shallow waters.
Black Spotted Eel
The black spotted eel is one of the types of eel that belong to the spiny eel family. They can grow up to 20 inches in length. Other common names for the black spotted eel are the polka dot eel or spotted spiny eel.
The electric eel is probably the most famous eel and the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word eel. This is an honorable mention as they aren’t really eels.
It’s the only animal on the planet that can paralyze its prey using an electrical current. Their electrical current is potent enough to paralyze even mammals as large as cows.
Electric eels also need to breathe air which means that they must frequently surface to take in oxygen or they will drown.
The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a South American electric fish and the only species in its genus. Despite the name, it is not an eel, but rather a knifefish.Electric eel – Wikipedia
These species of eel grow to about 2.5 feet in length. Fimbriated Moray eels have a yellowish-greenish color with black spots spread over its body. They eat mainly small fish. Read what do eels eat? for more information.
The fimbriated moray (Gymnothorax fimbriatus) also known as darkspotted moray or spot-face morayis a moray eel of the family Muraenidae.Fimbriated moray – Wikipedia
These types of eels are found in reefs in the indo-pacific region. At maturity, giant morays have leopard-like specks on their bodies. They feed mostly on fish but also small crustaceans.
The giant moray (Gymnothorax javanicus) is a species of moray eel and a species of marine fish in the family Muraenidae. In terms of body mass, it is the largest moray eel (the slender giant moray is longer).Giant moray – Wikipedia
The grey conger lives in the Atlantic ocean and feeds mostly on finfish. It can grow up to 62 inches, however, the normal length is 35 inches.
The grey conger, also known as the Antillean conger or simply the conger eel, is an eel in the family Congridae. It was described by Felipe Poey in 1861. It is a tropical and subtropical, marine eel which is known from the western central Atlantic Ocean, including Cuba, Jamaica, and throughout northern South America.Grey conger – Wikipedia
Longfin African Conger
The Longfin African Conger is a type of eel that grows over 4 feet in length and lives down to 262 feet below water.
The Longfin African conger or blacklip conger, is an eel of the family Congridae, found in the Indo-Pacific oceans from the Red Sea and East Africa to the Marquesas and Easter islands, north to southern Japan and the Ogasawara Islands, south to northern Australia and Lord Howe Island, at depths down to 80 m.Longfin African conger – Wikipedia
Half-Banded Spiny Eel
This fish grows up to 8 inches and has vertical bands around its body, hence the name. They’re nocturnal creatures and make for good pets so long as the other fish in the tank is too big to fit in its mouth. Check out more interesting facts about eels to learn more.
The Half-banded Spiny Eel Macrognathus circumcinctus is one of the smaller spiny eels. Although not considered to be true eels, the body shapes of all members of the spiny eel family, Mastacembelidae, are definitely eel-like. It has a long pointy snout at the end of an elongated body.Half-banded Spiny Eel, Macrognathus circumcinctus Fish Guide
This type of eel gets its name because of the long line of white dot-like spots along its snakelike body. Whitespotted congers can grow up to 36 inches in length.
The white-spotted conger is a marine conger eel, widespread in the Northwest Pacific near the coasts of Japan, Korean Peninsula, and the East China Sea. C. myriaster inhabits shallow sea bottom sand and mud. It is also consumed as food and is a common item on menus in Japan and abroad as manago.Whitespotted conger – Wikipedia
Snyder’s Moray is also known as the finespot moray. These are the smallest types of eels and they measure just about 4 inches in length. It has a long reddish-brown body that’s covered in fine brown and white spots.
Anarchias leucurus is a moray eel found in the Pacific Ocean. It was first named by Snyder in 1904 as Uropterygius leucurus, and is commonly known as the Snyder’s moray, fine-spotted moray, or the finespot moray.Anarchias leucurus – Wikipedia
These eels have zebra-like stripes over their body, hence the name zebra moray. They eat mainly crustaceans, mollusks, and sea urchins.
The zebra moray, Gymnomuraena zebra, is a species of marine fish in the family Muraenidae. It is the only member of the genus Gymnomuraena, though it sometimes has been included in Echidna instead.Zebra moray – Wikipedia
These eel types eat mainly small fish and crustaceans. They are also known as clouded moray and can grow up to 20 inches in length.
The snowflake moray (Echidna nebulosa) also known as the clouded moray among many various vernacular names, is a species of marine fish of the family Muraenidae. It is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific area from the eastern coast of Africa throughout Micronesia including the Red Sea and Hawaii.Snowflake moray – Wikipedia
Slender Giant Moray
At a recorded 13 feet in length, the slender giant moray is the longest species of moray to exist. You can tell them apart from other different types of eels by their grayish-brown dorsal fin that fades to white on the ventral.
The slender giant moray or Gangetic moray, Strophidon sathete, is the longest member of the family of moray eels. The longest recorded specimen was caught in 1927 on the Maroochy River in Queensland; it measured 3.94 meters.Slender giant moray – Wikipedia