Banana Eel

Gymnothorax miliaris

Last updated: April 19, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Named for the yellow body and brown spots that make it look like a banana.

Banana Eel Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Actinopterygii
Order
Anguilliformes
Family
Muraenidae
Genus
Gymnothorax
Scientific Name
Gymnothorax miliaris

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Banana Eel Conservation Status

Banana Eel Locations

Banana Eel Locations

Banana Eel Facts

Prey
Crustaceans, mollusks, small fish.
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
Named for the yellow body and brown spots that make it look like a banana.
Estimated Population Size
Unknown
Biggest Threat
Bigger fish
Most Distinctive Feature
Yellow body
Other Name(s)
Golden banana moray eel, golden-tail moray, bastard eel, conger moray
Optimum pH Level
8.1 – 8.4
Habitat
Reefs, rocky coasts, and other shallow waters with hiding places from predators.
Predators
Bigger fish
Diet
Carnivore
Type
Fish
Common Name
Golden-tail moray
Number Of Species
1

Banana Eel Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Yellow
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
12 – 15 years
Length
2 feet long

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View all of the Banana Eel images!



The banana eel (also known as the golden tail moray) is a fish that thrives in shallow freshwater and saltwater.

It is primarily found in the Atlantic Ocean along the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea. While it doesn’t have much commercial demand, the bright yellow appearance of this eel entices many exotic pet owners.

5 Incredible Banana Eel Facts!

  • The banana eel can survive for up to 30 minutes outside of the water.
  • To care properly for the banana eel, new pet owners should get a 125-gallon tank with plenty of space for hiding places, like corals or coves.
  • They live for up to 15 years, and they are often adopted as pets.
  • These eels primarily live near the equator in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • To breathe, the banana eel has to keep its mouth open underwater.

Banana Eel Classification and Scientific Name

The scientific name of the banana eel is Gymnothorax miliaris. The name “banana eel” is a moniker, as it is more commonly called the golden tail moray, bastard eel, or conger moray. This fish comes from the Anguilliformes order, which covers four main commercial species and 9 suborders. They are part of the Muraenidae family, which includes about 200 marine species of moray eels.

Banana Eel Appearance

The iconic yellow body is the reason that the banana eel is called such. With a bright yellow hue and brown spots, their pattern looks like a perfectly ripened banana. The spots are much smaller on the head, gradually getting bigger along the body. As a stark juxtaposition, the inside of the mouth is bright white.
Even though the banana eel is quite small, they still reach a modest 2-foot length when they are cared for in captivity. While it is possible to reach 70cm, it is far more likely that you’ll come across a 40cm banana eel instead. The average weight of the banana eel is not recorded.

Banana Eel Distribution, Population, and Habitat

– Where to find: Banana Eels and How to Catch Them

The banana eel is just one of about 200 different moray eel species in the world. It primarily lives in the Atlantic Ocean, spread throughout the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It has even been spotted through southeast Brazil and as close to the coast as Florida and Bermuda. The preferred habitat of this fish is along rocky slopes and coral reefs, moving effortlessly between the surface and 35 meters below it. Some reports show that they’ve been able to reach depths of nearly twice this much.

If you adopt one of these fish, the optimal tank size is 125 gallons, ranging from 73 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit with 1.020-1.025. The preferred climate of the banana eel is saltwater. Currently, the conservation status of banana eels is Not Extinct.

Banana Eel Predators and Prey

The primary diet of the banana eel is carnivorous, seeking out smaller fish, invertebrates, and crustaceans. While it is easy for the banana eel to track down this food on its own in its natural habitat, providing it with enough nourishment while in captivity could be difficult, due to lack of access.

To hunt, this moray goes out at night, seeking out food along the reef. However, this habit isn’t set in stone, because they’ll look for food in the daytime if they need to.

What Eats Banana Eels?

While the banana eel already hunts fish that are smaller than itself, it is part of the diet of many larger fishes. No specific animal dines on banana eels exclusively, but any carnivorous fish that is bigger than the banana eel will go after this fish for dinner.

What Does a Banana Eel Eat?

The banana eel eats small invertebrates that can be found on the coral reef, including mollusks and crustaceans. Though it may eat small fishes as well, they are not ordinarily the eel’s preferred meal.

Banana Eel Reproduction and Lifespan

The oviparous female banana eel needs to mate with multiple males to release her eggs. The eggs are released over long distances, rather than in a bunch like other fish might lay them. They are quite durable, even surviving at shallow depths as they grow. However, very little is known about their mating habits or even when they reach sexual maturity.

Breeding is not often encouraged within captivity because it is hard to tell a male from a female. Furthermore, the larvae (also known as elver) must be able to drift along in the sea for months before they ever develop into young eels, which is not something that can be replicated in captivity.
The average lifespan of the banana eel is 12-15 years.

Banana Eel In Fishing And Cooking

For the most part, all moray eels are avoided in cooking. The majority of species have toxic skin that is dangerous to humans, and it is not commercially fished in high enough quantities to be considered a common food.

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Banana Eel FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can you have a banana eel as a pet?

Yes. However, there is a lot of care that goes into keeping up with the banana eel properly. For the most part, they are fairly hardy, If you choose to adopt more than one, take care to select the right tank mates as they can be temperamental. Their tank size should be large, providing plenty of space for corals, caves, and other places to hide.

The average price to adopt a banana eel is at least $1,000, though you will need to factor in the price of the right tank size and any tank mates you adopt as well initially. Their price ultimately is decided by the size and age of the fish. Don’t adopt smaller fish as tank mates as the banana eel will primarily see them as food. Proper veterinary care should be established soon after adoption.

What do banana eels eat?

The preferred diet of the banana eel is crustaceans. However, when the opportunity arises, they will occasionally eat smaller fish, especially if they are kept as tank mates in captivity.

Where do banana eels live?

Though many banana eels are sold in the pet trade, their native habitat is in the Atlantic Ocean in depths of up to 35 meters on average. However, they may go twice this deep in search of food or shelter.

How much is a pet banana eel?

The average price of adoption starts at $1,000, but the age and size will adjust this total cost.

Sources
  1. Aquariadise, Available here: https://www.aquariadise.com/banana-eel/
  2. Fantasea Aquariums, Available here: https://www.fantaseaaquariums.com/fishes-care/banana-eel-care/
  3. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnothorax_miliaris
  4. Mexico - Fish, Birds, Crabs, Marine Life, Shells and Terrestrial Life, Available here: https://mexican-fish.com/goldentail-moray/
  5. Aquarium Codex, Available here: https://aquariumcodex.com/golden-banana-moray-eel-care-guide/
  6. The Mandarin Garden, Available here: https://www.themandaringarden.com/

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