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Garden eels
The spotted Heteroconger hassi and striped Gorgasia preclara
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anguilliformes
Family: Congridae
Subfamily: Heterocongrinae
Günther, 1870


Garden eels

The garden eels are the subfamily Heterocongrinae in the conger eel family Congridae. The majority of the 36 known species of garden eels live in the Indo-Pacific, but can be found in warm ocean water worldwide.[1][2][3] These small eels live in burrows on the sea floor and get their name from the behavior of poking their heads from their burrows while most of their bodies remain hidden. Since they tend to live in groups, the many eel heads "growing" from the sea floor resemble the plants in a garden. They vary in color and size depending on the species. The largest species reaches about 120 cm (47 in) in length, but most species do not surpass 60 cm (24 in).[1][2] Garden eel colonies can grow as large as one acre in surface area and number up to several thousand individuals.[4][5]


Based on FishBase, about 10 species of garden eels are in two genera:[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). Species of Congridae in FishBase. July 2012 version.
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). Species of Heterochonger in FishBase. July 2012 version.
  3. ^ "CAS - Eschmeyer's Catalog of Fishes - Genera/Species by Family/Subfamily". researcharchive.calacademy.org. Retrieved 2023-09-13.
  4. ^ "What's the Deal With Garden Eels?". Ocean Conservancy. 2020-06-01. Retrieved 2023-09-13.
  5. ^ Doubilet, David. "The Best Images from 2019's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition". Weather.com. TWC Product and Technology LLC. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). Species of Heteroconger in FishBase. July 2012 version.