Eel, a snakelike fish. The eel has a long tapered body covered by slimy skin. Some species have scales. The eel has dorsal (back) fins but no pelvic fins. The largest species of eels reach a length of 10 feet (3 m) and weigh up to 100 pounds (45 kg). Eels have strong jaws with sharp teeth. They feed at night on fish, crabs, lobsters, octopuses, and small aquatic mammals and birds. They travel through the water with an undulating motion.

The eelThe eel is a snakelike fish with strong jaws and sharp teeth.

Eels lay their eggs in salt water. Most species remain in the sea, but females of some species migrate to freshwater. However, they return to salt water to lay their eggs. Young eels hatch out of the eggs as leptocephali (small-headed larvae). Several hours later they become transparent and are called glass eels. About a year later the larvae lose their transparency. At this stage the young eels are called elvers.

The eel is a food fish, and is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe.

Are Eels Snakes or Fish?

Eels may look like snakes, but they aren’t related to those slithery reptiles at all. Eels are actually fish. There are about 700 kinds of eels, and most spend all their lives in the ocean.

Eels that are in the family known as common or freshwater eels spend part of their lives in fresh water. Common eels include the American eel and the European eel. Most male common eels grow to about 1 1/2 feet (46 centimeters) long. Most females grow 3 to 4 feet (91 to 122 centimeters) long.

American and European eels lay their eggs in the Sargasso (sahr GAS oh) Sea, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. As the young eels hatch and grow, ocean currents carry them northward to the coast of North America or Europe. These eels spend most of their adult life in the lakes, rivers, and streams of these two continents. When they are ready to spawn, the eels return to the sea.