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Species: Letharchus velifer, Sailfin eel

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

snout very pointed
front nostril = hole
D (only fin) high, origin on head
brown + pale blotches, D white
tail < 1/2 TL
tip = hard, finless
gill openings underneath

Letharchus velifer Goode & Bean, 1882

Sailfin eel

Elongate, compressed; tail 36-42% of TL; tip of tail a hard, finless point; snout sharply pointed, overhanging, without groove on underside; eye small; front nostril a flat hole; rear nostril opens in mouth; teeth slender, pointed, single series of 17-23 teeth on lower jaws and roof of mouth (0-6 teeth), 6-13 teeth in 2 rows at front between top jaws; top jaws with outer row of 8-13 teeth, plus 2-8 inner teeth at front; gill openings entirely on underside, converging forward; gill chamber puffed out; dorsal fin high, origin on nape; no anal or pectoral fins; lateral line complete, lines of each side of head connected by 2 canals with across top of head.

Dark brown head and body, body with pale blotches; dorsal fin white, with a dark margin in large fish; lateral line pores pale and in conspicuous dark areas.

Reaches 57.8 cm.

Soft bottoms.

Depth range: 0-90 m, usually below 20 m.

N Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom only
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Sand & gravel
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Bony fishes
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species.
  • West Atlantic Endemic
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
Regional Endemism
  • GC endemic
  • Continent
  • All species..
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 57.8
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 90