Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Anguilliformes (Eels and morays)
Family: Congridae (Conger and garden eels)
Subfamily: Heterocongrinae

Genus/species: Heteroconger hassi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The color is variable with tiny spots covering the body including three large black spots, two of which are usually visible. The third spot is on the anus, which is usually in the burro. The pectoral fins are minute.

Length up to 40 cm (16 in), body diameter of about 14 mm (1/2 in)

SPOTTED GARDEN EEL Heteroconger hassi FAM (Congridae) ,IMG_0193_2

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to the Society Islands. Found on sandy bottoms with some current near a reef at depths of 7–45 m (22-140 ft).

DIET IN THE WILD:  H. hassi feeds on microscopic animals in the water column.

REPRODUCTION: During mating season, males and females move their burrows closer together. With tails remaining in their burrows, they meet and entwine bodies. Males defend the females they have chosen. After mating the fertilized eggs are released into the current and float near the surface in the open ocean. The eggs hatch out and the larvae float until the eels are large enough to swim down and make a burrow.

Heteroconger hassi3302264315_77ea9161f9_b


REMARKS: Garden eels are usually found in colonies containing up to several hundred. The garden eel drives its pointy tail into the sand to create a burrow. Secretions from the skin harden and stabilize burrow sides. Part of the eel’s body remains in the burrow as it faces the current to feed. When approached, the animal withdraws into its burrow for protection.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Hidden Reef 2018

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