July 13, 2015
The eels can grow up to 40 cm maximum long and are covered in bright yellow and white stripes, which give them their common name.
Found throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific area, they were only relatively recently discovered with the advent of scuba diving.
They can live in depth of up to 75 metres but are more commonly found in 30 metres of water or less.
After spending time in quarantine, the splendid garden eels will join the aquarium’s existing colony of spotted garden eels in a specially-adapted display with a deep layer of sand to allow them to build their burrows.
Garden eels create their burrows by digging them tail-first, they then coat the sand walls with mucus to stick the sand grains together and prevent the hole collapsing.
“Garden eels really are fascinating fish and we’re delighted to have effectively doubled our colony with the arrival of this new species,” said Blue Reef’s Steve Matchett.
“Garden eels remain within their burrows for almost all their lives and colonies in the wild can run in to the thousands.
“As they mainly feed on tiny zooplankton which they capture as they swim past most colonies will all face the same direction – into the prevailing currents,” he added.
The fish even manage to mate while remaining partly submerged with males and females stretching from adjacent burrows to spawn.
The male will display protective behaviours toward his female mate, keeping other competitors away. It may bite rivals.
Garden eels are relatively shy creatures and will disappear entirely in to their burrows if approached by large fish or divers.
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews/picture opportunities please Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.