Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Ophichthus rex, Giant snake eel, King snake eel

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body 14-15 dark bars
D origin behind pectoral by < pectoral length
tail 50-54% TL
center roof of mouth - 2-3 rows teeth

Ophichthus rex Bohlke & Caruso, 1980

Giant snake eel,  King snake eel

Body cylindrical, robust, stouter than tail; tail 50-54% of TL; snout short, with a shallow groove on underside that can extend onto its tip; eye moderate, over middle of mouth; front nostril a tube, with a notch on upper edge and a ridge inside lower edge; rear nostril entirely outside mouth, completely covered by a flap that opens to the back; mouth large; teeth stout, conical, no fangs, those at top front exposed when mouth is closed, larger fish with more teeth; roof of mouth with  double rows at front, single row at rear, top jaw with 2-4 rows; lower jaw with 1-2 rows in small fish, 4-6 in larger individuals; dorsal origin behind pectorals by < pectoral length; pectoral fin 26-34% of head length, spatula like, 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.

Yellow-brown above, abruptly white below; 14-15 dark olive-brown bars along body; dorsal and anal fins striped at base; pectorals with dark upper half.

Reaches 211 cm; IGFA record 23.6 kg.

On soft bottoms.

Depth range: 16-366 m, usually 16-150 m.

The Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Sand & gravel
  • Mud
  • Soft bottom only
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • Data
  • Pelagic
Global Endemism
  • All species.
  • West Atlantic Endemic
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
Regional Endemism
  • GC endemic
  • Continent only
  • All species..
  • Gulf of Mexico endemic
  • Continent
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 211
Depth Range Min
  • 16
Depth Range Max
  • 366