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eels are members of the family Muraenidae.
15 genera and over 200 individual species that fall under the
moray eel. They are most prevalent in
the tropical regions of the world
populations also exist in subtropical regions. This scale less,
predator will grow anywhere from just over a foot to 15 feet in length
depending on the specific species. Slender giant morays are the
morays are thicker bodied and only reach about 10 foot in length but
tip the scales at 80 lbs. Some species have been reported to live in
30 years. They were often referred to as sea monster in ancient times
their size and fearsome appearance.
eels have exceedingly long dorsal fins. They start at
the back of their heads and stretch the entire length of their bodies
seamlessly with their caudal and anal fins. Most species lack pectoral
pelvis fins. This adds to the sleekness of their bodies and contributes
their snake like appearance. Moray eels are typically patterned. This
patterning is even found in the inside of their mouths helping to
from their next hapless victim. Their eyes are rather small and beady
the reptiles they so closely resemble.
are fierce predators. They do not simply swallow their
dinner whole like most fish. Their backward angled teeth are designed
purpose, to tear flesh. They do not chew or hold their victims. They
them. Their teeth combined with not one but two sets of jaws make for a
combination. The Moray’s initial jaws are wide enabling it to
take in larger
prey. A secondary jaw called a pharyngeal jaw is located in their
pharyngeal jaws also possess teeth. Moray
eels are the only creature on the planet to use pharyngeal jaws to
subdue their prey and prevent it from further struggle.
have poor eye sight and bad hearing. They are
nocturnal hunters and have little use for good eyesight.
sense of smell serves them well in an environment with little or no
spend the majority of their time hiding in cracks and crevices
the arrival of their dinner. When the time is right, they strike with
lightening fast precision of a snake.
slither through the water rather than swim. The
undulation of their bodies provides motion much in the way a snake
land. Between their enormous size, predacious appearance and the many
characteristics they have in common with some of the most feared
dry land it is no wonder ancient mariners conjured up stories of
eating sea monsters.
is common to mistake predatory instinct for aggressive
behavior. Moray eels are not inherently evil. They are simply trying to
like everything else in nature. Morays are more apt to hide from human
intrusion than make a stand. They would rather flee than fight. Most
inflicted during human interaction are accidental or in what the eel
as self defense. A giant moray can easily sever a human finger. Bite
become infected. Whether in nature or in an aquarium one is advised to
caution when dealing with these creatures.
moray eels are simply
too large to be kept in home
aquariums. They are better suited for commercial aquaria. Depending on
of your aquarium there are roughly a dozen species you may wish to
Among the smallest of these species are the trunk-eyed moray (Gymnothorax
moray (Gymnothorax richardsonii) and the chestnut moray (Enchelycore
carychoa). These eels will reach
from 12 to 14 inches when fully grown.
is not a
particularly aggressive animal but due to its predatory nature it is
for marine reef aquariums. If kept in a community tank a moray should
housed with fish aggressive enough to take a fellow predator in stride.
Lionfish, angelfish, boxfish and groupers fit in this category. If you
to raise a moray you should also be aware that they navigate cracks and
crevices in the same manner a snake will. They can easily escape from
less than a tightly lidded aquarium.
are strictly carnivorous creatures. They may show a reluctance to eat
when they are first introduced to their new surroundings.
them live food such as brine shrimp
for smaller species and feeder shrimp and fish for larger eels will
acclimate to their new surroundings. Eventually they can be weaned of
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