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Garden Eels

(Heterocongrinae)

Moray Eels Needlefish

There are 35 species of Garden Eels in the family Heterocongrinae, most of which are found in the Indo-Pacific region.

The garden eels have long, slender bodies, with both the pectoral and caudal fins being reduced or absent. These eels have no scales.

Garden eels occur in colonies in sand where they live individually in burrows from which they protrude to feed on plankton. When they rise up to feed, they look like a gently waving garden of plants.

Many species of garden eel are colourfully patterned and most are no more than 60cm in length.

Mating and spawning takes place without any lengthy migration.

1 species found on this page.

Spotted Garden Eel

Heteroconger hassi

The spotted garden eel is a small fish that can reach a maximum length of around 40 cm. It has a long, thin body, and the head is the same diameter as the body. The head appears shortened because the large mouth is close to the also large eyes. Adults are around 14mm in diameter.

Spotted Garden Eel (Heteroconger hassi) @ Koh Haa

Heteroconger hassi @ Koh Haa

The body is white and covered with many small black spots. The spotted garden eel has three larger distinctive black spots; the first identifies the gills opening and the position of the tiny pectoral fins, the second is located in the central part of the body and the third one surrounds the anus. Juveniles have a very thin black body.

Spotted Garden Eel (Heteroconger hassi) @ Koh Haa

Spotted Garden Eel @ Koh Haa

The spotted garden eel lives in colonies on sandy bottoms that are exposed to currents, ranging from 8 to 45 meters.

As in other garden eel species, individuals rarely leave their burrow once it is finished, but will move burrows closer together during breeding season until contact between partners is possible.

Once the eggs are fertilised, they will grow into juvenile eels within the plancton, before becoming large enough to start living on the sandy bottom of the seabed.

Find Out More: Marine Life References and Further Information

Diving with Garden Eels

Spot Garden Eels around Koh Lanta on one of our high season dive and snorkel trips.

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