The Great Barrier Reef Library

A comprehensive guide to The Great Barrier Reef

Anguilliformes – Eels


By on April 23, 2018


Anguilliformes are commonly known as eels, which are grouped into 16 different families, with 900 hundred species found worldwide. Whilst they have a similar appearance to Sea Snakes (Squamata), they are not to be confused. Sea Snakes are reptiles and still need to come to the surface to breathe. Eels, on the other hand, are specially adapted fish, complete with a set of gills. They have a long thin body, with the dorsal, anal and caudal (tail) fins, fused together, giving them their snake-like appearance. They have lost their pelvic fins and most have also lost their pectoral fins, too.

Eels have a smooth, slimy texture, due to the fact that they have small cycloid scales, or even no scales at all in some cases! They are generally nocturnal hunters, seen through the day hiding in rocky crevices, opening and closing their mouths as they pump water through their gills.

You can find a list of all of the Families of eels found on The Great Barrier Reef, below.

Family – A lower level of taxonomic classification, grouping together species that show many similarities

Anguillidae – Freshwater Eels

Chlopsidae – False Morays

Congridae – Conger and Garden Eels

Eurypharyngidae – Gulper Eels

Moringuidae – Spaghettis Eels

Muraenesocidae – Pike Eels

Muraenidae Muraenidae – Moray Eels

Nemichthyidae – Snipe Eels

Ophichthidae – Snake Eels

Synaphobranchidae – Cutthroat Eels