American Conger Eel (Conger oceanicus)

American Conger Eel (Conger oceanicus)

Conger eels are widely distributed members of the small Congridae family of marine eels that inhabit temperate and tropical waters.

Identification

Conger are distinguished from moray eels by having pectoral fins (morays have none) and by the dark or black margin on their dorsal and anal fins. Conger eels are scaleless, and their dorsal fins originate over the tips of the pectorals. They grow much larger than American eels, with which they are sometimes confused in inshore environs.

Size/Age

The American conger is reportedly capable of growing to 71⁄2 feet and 87 pounds, although it is most frequently encountered at 10 to 20 pounds and 5 feet in length. Females grow larger than males.


Life history

The life history of this fish is similar to that of the American eel, although the latter enter freshwater. Sexual maturity occurs between 5 and 15 years of age, and spawning congers migrate seaward, spawning in the summer in water that may be more than 1,000 feet deep.

Food

The diet of the nocturnal-feeding conger eel includes fish, shrimp, small shellfish, and crustaceans.

Other Names

conger, dog eel, sea eel, silver eel; French: congre d’Amerique; Spanish: congrin americana.

Distribution

The American conger occurs in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Florida and in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat

This species ranges widely from shallow inshore waters, occasionally in brackish environs, to waters hundreds of feet deep. The eels usually suspend over rocky or broken bottoms or may linger around wrecks, piers, pilings, and jetties.
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