Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    hassi
    Genus
    Heteroconger
    Family
    Congridae
    Order
    Anguilliformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 60 cm in length.

Introduction

The Spotted Garden Eel can be recognised by its colouration.  Individuals live in sandy burrows near coral reefs.

Identification

The Spotted Garden Eel has a white body covered in small black spots. There are three prominent black patches located on the body. One surrounds the gill opening and pectoral fin, the second is half way along the body and the third surrounds the anus. Juveniles are entirely black.

Habitat

It is usually seen on sandy bottoms near coral reefs at depths of 15 m to 45 m.

This fish lives in sandy burrows, which they construct. When feeding, the Spotted Garden Eel rises out of its burrow, exposing up to two-thirds of its body. It feeds on zooplankton taken from the passing current.

Distribution

The Spotted Garden Eel occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific region, from East Africa, north to Japan, south to New Caledonia and east to the Pitcairn Islands. In Australia it is known from the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Heteroconger hassi

Ozcam map of Spotted Garden Eel specimens in the Australian Museums. http://ozcam.ala.org.au/occurrences/search?q=heteroconger%20hassi&zoom=off#mapView

Other behaviours and adaptations

When disturbed the Spotted Garden Eel retreats backwards into its burrow.

Breeding behaviours

Spotted Garden Eels stay in their burrows when spawning. Potential mates stretch over from adjacent burrows and entwine bodies.

Economic impacts

The species was not discovered until SCUBA diving became popular. Since then colonies of hundreds or thousands of individuals have been reported.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  2. Castle, P.H.J. & J.E. Randall. 1999. Revision of Indo-Pacific garden eels (Congridae: Heterocongrinae), with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes No. 30: 1-52, Pls. I-III.
  3. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 415.