Biodiversity & Conservation

Conger eel - Conger conger


Conger conger

Image Keith Hiscock - A conger eel Conger conger and a leopard spotted goby Thorogobius ephippiatus. Image width ca 60 cm.
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Distribution map

Conger conger recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

Why do the maps differ?

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Conger conger is not listed under any importance categories.


Taxonomy icon Taxonomy Taxon English term
Phylum Chordata Sea squirts, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals
Class Actinopterygii Ray-finned fish, e.g. sturgeon, eels, fin fish, gobies, blennies, and seahorses
Authority (Linnaeus, 1758)
Recent synonyms European conger
Map icon Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland Conger conger is found predominantly on the south and western coasts of England, Wales and Scotland and all around the Irish coast. There are a few records on eastern coasts of England and Scotland though the conger is less numerous in these areas.
Habitat information icon Habitat information During the day Conger conger are found in holes or crevices on rocky or sandy bottoms and in wrecks and other artificial environments. Conger eels become more active at night when they leave their resting places to hunt. Many Congers are found down to depths of 500 m but descend to as deep as 4000 m to spawn.
Text page icon Description Conger conger is a long, powerful fish with scaleless, smooth skin. They are usually grey-blue or grey-black in colour with a white or pale golden coloured belly. In deeper water they have a light brown back with grey sides and belly. The dorsal, tail and anal fins are fused making a complete fringe around the body. The dorsal fin starts just behind the tip of the pectoral fin and the anal fin terminates midway along the underside of the fish. Conger eels can grow to 2.75 m in length but are more commonly seen at around 2 m long.
Identifying features
  • Dorsal, tail and anal fins fused forming a complete fringe with a pointed tail.
  • The pectoral fins are pointed with the dorsal fin beginning just behind the pectoral tip.
  • The eyes are eliptical and the upper jaw is longer than the lower.
  • Nostril openings face forward on the snout.
  • Grey-blue or grey-brown in colour with black margin around dorsal and anal fins.
  • Long snake-like fish that grow up to 2.75 m in length.
Additional information icon Additional information Conger eels spend their entire life in marine waters. Once they reach maturity, which takes between 5 -15 years, they migrate to deep water in the mid-Atlantic to spawn. Conger conger spawns only once and dies straight after. The larvae drift north eastwards until they reach shallower waters where larval development is completed (Wheeler, 1969). Conger conger could be confused with the common eel Anguilla anguilla. However, the conger eel has pointed pectoral fins, the upper jaw overhangs the lower and the dorsal fin originates from further forward on the body.

This review can be cited as follows:

Al Reeve 2007. Conger conger. Conger eel. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 31/10/2014]. Available from: <http://www.marlin.ac.uk/speciesinformation.php?speciesID=3029>