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Related FAQs: Indonesian Biotopes

Indonesia Underwater: Fishes, Eels of All Sorts

Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com

"What's that on your head? A shrimp!"

Morays, Family Muraenidae: 36 Species Recorded

Though Indonesia isn't quite the "Land of the Puhi" as Hawai'i, there are moray eels to be found here, sometimes in mixed species association. The most commonly encountered shown below.

The Snowflake, Starry, or Diamond-Backed Moray, Echidna nebulosa (Ahl 1789) To about thirty inches total length. Base color of silver gray with black and yellow "snowflakes" randomly sprinkled over the lower body. A crab and shrimp eater that rarely bites.

Gymnothorax fimbriatus (Bennett 1832), the Fimbriated Moray. To 80 cm. (32 inches) in length. Indo-Pacific; Madagascar to Society Islands. Feed on fish and crustaceans at night.

Gymnothorax flavimarginatus (Ruppell 1830). The Yellow Margin Moray. Black spot on gill opening, yellowish green margin on the fins. Indo-Pacific. To four feet in length but girthy. Common in Hawaii where it is often "tamed" by dive companies. Hawaii and S. Sulawesi pix of front end.  http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Gymnothorax javanicus (Bleeker 1859), Giant Moray. To ten feet, 3 meters in length. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, East Africa to Hawai'i. Feeds principally on fishes, secondarily on crustaceans. Largest Moray species according to Fishbase. Shown here in Northern Sulawesi. 

Gymnothorax meleagris (Shaw & Nodder 1795), the White Mouth Moray. Brown to black with numerous white spots. Dark spot around gill opening. Indo-Pacific. To about forty inches in length. N. Sulawesi images. 

Gymnothorax pictus (Ahl 1789), the Peppered Moray. Indo-Pacific; East Africa to the eastern Pacific, Hawai'i. To five feet in length.  

Gymnothorax (Siderea) thyrsoidea (Richardson 1845), the White-Eyed Moray. Indo-Pacific; Christmas Island to French Polynesia. To twenty six inches in length. Found in shallow water, often with other Moray species.  N. Sulawesi images. 

Rhinomuraena quaesita Garman 1888, the Ribbon Moray Eel. Fiji image at right or a changeling female and male. Below, a juvenile (black) and male in N. Sulawesi and a female in Mabul, Malaysia. Females are rare and mostly to all yellow in color. Best approached while vigorously rubbing, thumbing a pointer near the base of the fish's hole, then wiggling it in front to draw it out.

Snake & Worm Eels, Family Ophichthidae: 31 species recorded from Indonesia

Of all places in the world, Indo. is likely where you'll actually get to see a live Snake Eel... they're encountered during the day with their snouts sticking out in "muck" areas, and out and about hunting by night. Scary at times, they pose no danger to divers.

Brachysomophis cirrocheilos (Bleeker 1857), the Stargazer Snake Eel. Looking frightening like its namesake (the uranoscopid stargazer)... come to think of it, looking more terrifying... Indo-West Pacific; Red Sea to Indonesia. To four feet in length. N. Sulawesi image. 

Myrichthys colubrinus (Boddaert 1781), the Banded or Harlequin Snake Eel. Indo-Pacific. To nearly three feet in length. Similar in care, finickiness to its TWA congener (see above). Fine sand, dark areas, large space a must. Some can be trained to take fresh meaty foods with a feeding rod. Aquarium and N. Sulawesi photos of one of several color/marking variations. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Ophichthus altipennis (Kaup 1856), the Highfin Snake Eel. Seen mostly in the sand by day. Darken with age, size. A younger individual in Mabul, Malaysia and a larger/older one with a friendly shrimp on its snout and one out and about in N. Sulawesi.

Conger & Garden Eels, Family Congridae: Nine described Indo. species.

Conger cinereus Ruppell 1830, the Mustache Conger. Indo-Pacific. To four feet in length. Found in holes in rocky caves near the bottom. Looks like a sea monster, but is a gentle giant. Hawaii pic during the day.

Taenioconger hassi (Klausewitz & Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1959), the Spotted Garden Eel. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, East Africa, over to Australia, up to the Ogasawaras to Micronesia. Sandy reef slopes, generally below 15 meters.

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