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Common Name: Goldentail Moray  

Scientific Name: Gymnothorax miliaris


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Osteichthyes  

Order: Angulliformes

Family: Muraenidae

Genus: Gymnothorax

Species: G. Miliaris  


The Goldentail Moray is more commonly known as the marine eel.  They are usually found in two colors.  Brown with yellow spots and a yellow tail, or others can be yellow or yellowish gold with brown spots, however this coloring is considered rare.  They can grow to be as small as 9 inches and as large as 10 feet, but they are usually found about 5 feet long. The Goldentail Moray has a snake-like body type with an absence of pelvic and pectoral fins, small eyes and fang-like teeth.


If you were to go scuba diving looking for a Goldentail Moray, you would go to the Tropical or Sub tropical regions.   You may find Goldentail Morays in some spots in the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Brazil.  They also adapt well to living in aquariums.  They can grow to be about 2 feet long in an aquarium.  It is important that the aquarium be at least 125 gallons or larger.  Goldentail Morays usually live 55-60 feet deep.  Goldentail morays live in the cracks of rocks, coral reefs, and ship wrecks.  Mostly any small area where they can get what they need to survive. 


The way the Goldentail Moray’s body is shaped lets it do well in the area it lives.  Its body is shaped like a snake.  Their snake shaped body makes it easy for them to catch their food and back up quickly to stay away from predators.  Moray’s are nocturnal and cannot see or hear well, and rely on their strong sense of smell for hunting.  Unlike other animals, the moray eel is the only one that uses a second set of jaws with a pharyngeal jaw to capture its prey.  Theses jaws come forward into the mouth to help grab struggling prey and help move it into the throat and down the rest of the digestive system.  They eat shrimp, crustaceans, mollusks, and Cephalopods. 


Their snake shaped body also helps them to stay away from predators.  The most common enemies of the Goldentail are the Octopus, Groupers, other Morays, and Barracudas.  To keep from being eaten their snake shaped body plays its role.  Since the Goldentail Moray lives in small crevices, when they get hungry they will swim out of their hiding spot, take the organism, and swims backwards into its hiding spot.  Goldentail morays are good at catching their prey because they can back up into their hiding place unlike other marine animals that are forced to do a U-turn.


Usually morays are shy and secretive and only attack humans in self defense. Although divers fear them because of their extremely vicious bite.  This animal doesn’t mean to bite divers, it happens because divers try to feed the morays and they mistake the divers fingers for food and bite.  If the Morays do bite, it could cause a serious bacterial infection because of their backward-pointing teeth.  These teeth are covered with bacteria which could infect the wound.


Author: Ansley B

Published: 1/31/09



Encyclopedia of the Aquatic World   Volume 4 – Deep –Sea Fish – Flying Fish and Relatives

Marshall Cavendish

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