Parasitic eel

Snubnosed eel

The snubnosed eel, Simenchelys parasitica, is an eel of the genus Simenchelys, found in the eastern and western Atlantic, off South Africa, and the western Pacific including Japan, Australia and New Zealand, in depths of between 150 and 2,500 m. Their length is between 30 and 60 cm. It is also known as the parasitic eel as it has been reported to be parasitic on fishes. In the ITIS classification system, the snubnosed eel belongs to its own family, Simenchelyidae, however in the FishBase classification system it is placed in the subfamily Simenchelyinae of the family Synaphobranchidae of cutthroat eels.

The snubnosed eel is similar to the deepwater arrowtooth eel having the same scale and gill aperture arrangements, but with the dorsal fin starting a little further back. The head is very blunt indeed, the mouth being just a small slit. It lives by burrowing into the flesh of other fishes, as a parasite.

Colouring is a uniform grey to grey-brown and is sometimes mottled. It lives on the bottom at great depths.


  • Tony Ayling & Geoffrey Cox, Collins Guide to the Sea Fishes of New Zealand, (William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand 1982) ISBN 0-00-216987-8

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