Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Anguilliformes
(Eels and morays) > Muraenidae
(Moray eels) > Muraeninae
Etymology: Gymnothorax: Greek, gymnos = naked + Greek, thorax, -akos = breast (Ref. 45335).
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; reef-associated; depth range 0 - 200 m (Ref. 9710), usually 0 - 35 m (Ref. 40849). Subtropical; 37°N - 26°S, 98°W - 5°W
Western Atlantic: North Carolina, USA and Bermuda to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean to southeastern Brazil. Eastern Atlantic: Ascension and St. Helena (Ref. 4450). Mid- and eastern Atlantic islands (Ref. 26938).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 200 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 57911); common length : 60.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5217); max. published weight: 2.5 kg (Ref. 40637)
Morphology | Morphometrics
Moderate-size moray with a pattern of distinct small, round, overlapping dark brownish to purplish-black spots on white or pale yellow background (Ref. 26938).
A benthic and solitary species (Ref. 26340) abundant in shallow rocky and grassy areas and on coral reefs; less common in turbid bays or harbors. Its bite is very dangerous (Ref. 5217). Active during the day, sometimes together with other predators. Feeds on fish and crustaceans (Ref. 42064). Usually seen with its head protruding from a hole and the rest of its body concealed (Ref. 26938). Observed to be unusually aggressive towards man (Ref. 86997). It has been traded as aquarium fish at Ceará, Brazil (Ref. 49392). Marketed fresh and salted (Ref. 5217).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Spawning migrations, leptocephalus larvae.
Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray, 1986. A field guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 354 p. (Ref. 7251)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 119314)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
Traumatogenic (Ref. 5217)
Fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 23.3 - 28, mean 26.5 (based on 630 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00098 (0.00064 - 0.00150), b=3.10 (2.97 - 3.23), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 4.5 ±0.8 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (Assuming tmax>10).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Very high vulnerability (85 of 100) .