moray eel (Muraenidae), actually called murénids belongs to the family of hookworm fish. It is found in warm and temperate waters distributed throughout the planet. Despite their appearance, moray eels are not reptiles, but fish.

Brunette in profile

Brunette in profile


There are approximately more than 200 different species that vary in size and color. Although their appearance is quite similar, with an elongated, muscular, meandering body and slightly flattened on the tail. Some species are flattened on both sides. The dorsal fin extends from the head, along the entire body, until it merges with the tail (caudal) and the tail fins. The muzzle is generally elongated and they have large eyes and mouths with large teeth.

They lack pectoral and pelvic fins like other fish. Color has a wide range of colors including black, gray, brown, yellow, green, blue, orange, and white - all can appear as spots, stripes, or other patterns from less to greater complexity. The face is of a pale color contrasting with its body to avoid predators.

The body can measure between 10 - 200 cm and weigh up to 30 kg. The smallest is the Snyder moray (Anarchias leucurus) with a maximum length of 11,5 cm, while the longest is the slender giant moray (Strophidon sathete) that can measure up to 4 m. In terms of mass, the largest is the giant moray (Gymnothorax javanicus) with 3 m long and 30 kg in weight.


The moray eel is very reserved, as it spends most of its time hiding in holes and colored crevices or rocks. Spending almost all the time hiding, it goes unnoticed by its predators and serves to catch its prey off guard.

Moray eel in captivity

Moray eel in captivity


The moray eel inhabits deep and shallow waters in tropical and subtropical areas. They can sometimes be found in cold waters, tending to stay in deep crevices. Coral reefs have the largest population of moray eels, as a large number of marine species are found there.

There are also some moray eels that live in fresh or brackish waters.


The brunette is an animal carnivorous that feeds on other large fish such as fish, mollusks such as squid, cuttlefish and crustaceans such as crab.


The moray eel is a dominant predator but that does not prevent it from being hunted by other animals such as grouper, barracuda, sharks and humans.


The moray eel mates when the water is very hot, during or at the end of the summer. Fertilization is oviparous, therefore, the eggs and sperm are fertilized outside the uterus, in the water. It can spawn more than 10.000 eggs at a time, which hatch into larvae that will become part of the plankton.

The larvae take about a year to fully develop and swim to the bottom of the ocean to find shelter.



State of conservation

The moray eel is not listed as an endangered species, therefore it is a species listed as "Least Concern".

Relationship with humans

Some species of moray eels are fished for food. The larger species, in certain locations, are a tourist attraction for divers but care must be taken as many species are aggressive and dangerous capable of inflicting serious injuries quickly.

Attempts have been made to domesticate certain species, but have not been able to do so completely.

The smaller species are used as pets in large aquariums. Of the 200 species, 12 are suitable for home aquariums but only 5 of these can live with other fish. However, many people underestimate the size to which many brunettes can grow and find it difficult to maintain them.

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