Are Eels Fish? All You Want to Know

Are Eels Fish? All You Want to Know

A marine animal that is frequently disregarded are eels. When we think of eels, we usually think “What on earth are they!?” which is a very valid question!

They don’t seem to fit into a specific category as they are unlike any other type of animal. Eels are either eels or something else.

Saying this, one might be surprised to know that eels actually do not have their own category; rather, they are just funny looking fish! Eels come in a variety of varieties and are related to various fish species.

Description of Eels

Eels are elongated fish, ranging in length from 5 cm (2 in) in the one-jawed eel (Monognathus ahlstromi) to 4 m (13 ft) in the slender giant moray. The weight of an adult can vary from 30 g (1 oz) to well over 25 kg (55 lb). In addition to lacking pectoral fins, many species also lack pelvic fins. Together with the caudal fin, the animal’s dorsal and anal fins form a single ribbon that extends for the majority of its length. In order to move, eels produce waves that travel the length of their bodies. By switching the direction of the wave, they can swim backward.

Most eels live in the shallow waters of the ocean and burrow into sand, mud, or amongst rocks. Because the majority of eel species are nocturnal, they are rarely seen. Sometimes, they are seen living together in holes or “eel pits.” On the continental shelves and over slopes as deep as 4,000 m (13,000 ft), some eels also reside in deeper water. Only members of the Anguilla regularly inhabit fresh water, but they, too, return to the sea to breed.

Conger eels from Europe are the largest true eels. This species has been estimated to grow to a maximum length of 3 m (10 ft) and a maximum weight of 110 kg (240 lb). The slender giant moray, which grows to a height of 4 meters (13 feet), is an example of an eel that is longer but not as heavy.

Are Eels Fish? All You Want to Know
Are Eels Fish? All You Want to Know

What Are True Eels?

True eels are basically an elongated, slimy fish belonging to the Anguilliformes order (meaning “snake shaped.”).

This category includes more than 800 different species of eels. Who knew there were that many kinds of eels!?

True eel species are primarily found in saltwater ecosystems. However, some eels favor living in freshwater and spend a significant portion of their lives in rivers.

Then What is An Electric Eel?

Despite its name, the electric eel is a knifefish, not an eel. It is more closely related to carp and catfish and is a member of the order Gymnotiformes. Its eel-shaped body, which can get as long as 9 ft (2.75 m) and weigh almost 50 lbs (22.7 kg), gave rise to its name. Electric eels are found in freshwaters in South America, as opposed to true eels, which are typically found in salt water. In addition, electric eels are air-breathers, which means they must come to the surface once every ten minutes to breathe (as opposed to true eels, which have gills that allow them to breathe underwater).

It should come as no surprise that electric eels are distinguished by their electricity. They possess three electric organs that house electrocytic cells. When the electric eel senses prey or feels threatened by a predator, electrocytes create an electrical current that can release up to 600 volts (if you are unlucky enough to be shocked by 600 volts, it won’t kill you on its own, but it will hurt).

Lifecycle of Eels

Eels begin life as flat and transparent larvae, called leptocephali. Eel larvae drift in the sea’s surface waters, feeding on marine snow, small particles that float in the water. Eel larvae then metamorphose into glass eels and become elvers before finally seeking out their juvenile and adult habitats. Many eels remain in the sea throughout their lives, but freshwater elvers of eels in the family Anguillidae travel upstream and are forced to climb up obstructions, such as weirs, dam walls, and natural waterfalls.

Are Eels Fish? All You Want to Know
Are Eels Fish? All You Want to Know


Is an Eel a Fish Yes or No?

Eels are ray-finned fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes (/aelig;wlfrmiz/), which has eight suborders, 19 families, 111 genera, and about 800 species.

Why Are Eels Considered Fish?

True eels are basically an elongated, slimy fish belonging to the Anguilliformes order (meaning “snake shaped.”). This category includes over 800 different species of eels. Eels come in a staggering variety—who knew??

Is Eel a Fish Or Reptile?

Eels are a type of fish. More than 800 different species of eels are currently included in the order Anguilliformes, including the more Disney-friendly moray eels (family Muraenidae) and other species like worm eels (family Moringuidae), garden eels (family Congridae), and cutthroat eels (family Synaphobranchidae).

Why Don’t We Eat Eels?

Eel blood is poisonous to humans and other mammals, but both cooking and the digestive process destroy the toxic protein. Charles Richet used the eel blood serum toxin in his Nobel Prize-winning research, where he discovered anaphylaxis by administering it to dogs and observing the reaction.

Can Muslims Eat Eel?

In the Hanafi school of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence, to which the majority population of Sunni Muslims belong to, only “fish” (as opposed to all “sea game”) are permissible, including eel and hagfish.


Elongated fish are what true and electric eels are in reality—not a separate species.

True and electric eels aren’t even the same species of fish, which only adds to the confusion.

They share only their long, limbless bodies; they are not even remotely related to one another.