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Species: Ophichthus ophis, Spotted snake eel

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

flank - large spots, back - paired small spots
head small spots
D origin ~at pectoral tip
tail 57-61% TL
center roof mouth - 1 row teeth

Ophichthus ophis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Spotted snake eel

Body cylindrical, robust, stouter than tail; tail 57-61% of TL; head conical at front, flat between eyes, snout overhanging; eye large, horizonally elongate and eliptical, over middle of mouth; front nostril a tube, with a small, conspicuous barbell from its center rim; rear nostril large, entirely outside mouth, bordered by an irregular flange-like lip; mouth large; teeth stout, conical, no fangs, those at top front of mouth exposed; roof of mouth with 1 pair of teeth at front, then 1 row of 12-17 that are smaller to the rear, jaws with 2 rows of teeth; top jaw with outer row of 8-15, inner row of 10-19; lower jaw with 2 rows of 14-23 outer and 14-19 inner; dorsal origin over middle of tips of pectorals; pectoral fin 23-27% of head length, like a spatula, with restricted base - opposite and above upper half of gill opening; tip of tail a blunt, finless point; lateral line complete, lines of each side of head connected by 2 canals with across top of head.

Body white, with ~20 large dark brownish-black spots along midside and 25-35 pairs of smaller spots along base of dorsal fin, 1 large dark spot at origin of dorsal fin; nape, snout & throat with numerous small dark spots; a dark bar across nape.

Reaches 210 cm.

Lives in burrows on sandy bottoms.

Depth range: 0-137 m.

Both sides of the Atlantic; Bermuda to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Sand & gravel
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Bony fishes
  • Data
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
  • Pelagic
Global Endemism
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
  • All species.
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Extends South of GC
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species..
  • Also in Brazil
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 137
Length Max
  • 210