Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spotted Garden Eel

The Spotted Garden Eel (Heteroconger hassi)is a species of Conger Eel native to the tropical marine waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are found in sandy areas at depths of between 20 and 150ft (6-15m). Spotted Garden Eels get their names from the spotted patterning on their bodies, and they measure up to 23in (60cm) in length.

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Spotted Garden Eels live out their lives in massive colonies that can number over 1,000 individuals. Each Eel lives in its own burrow, which is created by making its body rigid and by driving into the sand tail first. Spotted Garden Eels spend nearly all of their time in these burrows, positioning themselves to face currents that carry food. When threatened, they will retreat downward into the sand. Some colonies even live among sea grasses to provide better camouflage. These defensive strategies do not make them 100% safe from predators. Snake Eels will dig into the sand and attack from underground, while other species of fish will actually dig after the Garden Eels.

During the mating season burrows of males and females will be placed closer together. They intertwine with each other to breed. Eggs of the species are laid in open water, and will float about before hatching. When the young Eels reach a large enough size they will create a burrow of their own.

Spotted Garden Eels have a stable population, but they are collected for the pet trade, though they can be extremely difficult to keep as pets.

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