Electric eels aren’t eels!
They have long sinuous bodies. They live in the water. But they aren’t true eels. Electric eels are knife fish with close ties to carp and catfish.
Moray eels are true eels. They belong to the group of ray-finned fish because of their long, mohawk-like fin. What other differences are there between these fish?
Read on to understand the most important differences between an electric eel vs moray eel.
Comparing Electric Eel vs Moray Eel
|Electric Eel||Moray Eel|
|Habitat||Amazon river basins|
|Widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific region|
Sometimes hunt in packs
Most active at night
Cooperatively hunt with grouper fish
Most active at night
|Mouth||No upper teeth|
|2 full sets of teeth|
Pharyngeal teeth in throat
|Slight gamey taste|
Considered delicacy in many places
|Things their body produces||High voltages of electricity||Sticky, defensive mucus|
Electric Eel vs Moray Eel: Key Differences
The key differences between an electric eel vs moray eel include their habitat, hunting techniques, mouths, and edibility. They both also can produce exciting things with their bodies. While moray eels produce a sticky binding mucus, electric eels can generate hundreds of volts of electricity.
Both fish are expert hunters, but they have unique techniques. Moray eels team up with grouper fish, communicating with head nods. Electric eels, the catfish’s cousin, use a series of charges to navigate waters and stun prey.
You can eat both eels, but only morays taste good. Finally, moray eels have special jaws and an extra set of teeth. There’s a new toothy-looking moray eel species in South Africa. You can see its teeth, even when its mouth is closed! At the same time, electric eels are missing their top teeth. Keep reading to fully understand the difference between an electric eel vs moray eel.
Electric Eel vs Moray Eel: Habitat
There are over 200 species of moray eel. The largest and probably most common is the giant moray eel. We’ll focus on that particular eel for this epic comparison.
Giant morays are widespread throughout the Indo-pacific region. They are commonly found throughout lagoons and the outer slopes of coral reefs. Moray eels like resting in narrow crevices. They also enjoy hanging out beneath overhangs, which can be problematic for divers.
Electric eels are widely distributed throughout the Amazon river basin. These charged-up predators can grow up to 8 ft in length and weigh as much as 50 lb! They like slow-moving waters. That’s why you can find a lot of electric eels in flooded forests, lakes, and streams. Their favorite hangout spots include the muddy water bottoms of rivers.
Electric Eel vs Moray Eel: Safe to Eat?
As apex predators in most of their hunting grounds, moray eels get the opportunity to ingest toxins present in smaller fish. Over time the toxins build to dangerous levels. It can be detrimental to humans to consume these large fish, when they come from the wrong place. Thankfully, as long as the moray eel you’re going to eat comes from a safe source, it can be a delicious meal.
Electric eels aren’t as tasty. Sometimes people eat electric eels, but they’re not as common as moray eel dishes. While moray eels have flavorful meat, electric eels taste boring and bony. They also don’t have enough nutrients to make them worth hunting.
Electric Eel vs Moray Eel: Hunting Techniques
Moray eels are large natural carnivores that can grow up to 10 ft and weigh as much as 60 pounds! Eels have to hunt a lot to stay full, which may be why they don’t mind teaming up with groupers.
Groupers will use gestures to recruit moray eels for a team-up or cooperative hunt. Coral trout use a similar technique to hunt with octopuses! The hunting eel catches what they need in the reef and flush the rest out for the grouper to snatch up.
Electric eels are one of the few fish conjuring electricity to kill prey. They can generate up to 800 volts of electricity. They’ll use their electricity for self-defense and stun or kill their prey. The electric organs work by creating strong and weak charges.
They can use these charges for defense, communication, navigation, and hunting. The stronger the electrical charge, the more energy it takes. Big charges can quickly exhaust an electric eel. They’ll use their main electrical organ when they need to produce a large charge.
Electric Eel vs Moray Eel: What Their Body Can Produce
Moray eels can produce mucus that covers their scale-less skin. The mucus protects them from abrasions. They can stabilize hiding structures by bonding their mucus with the surrounding sand. Some species of moray have toxic mucus. There’s even a moray species with poisonous flesh.
Electric eels don’t produce sticky mucus-like moray eels. Instead, their electric organs are their most impressive anatomical feature. They have three electric organs. First, there’s the main electrical organ. Next, there’s the hunter’s organ. Finally, there’s the Sachs organ.
The electric eel’s three electric organs make up 80% of its body. The remaining vital organs are tightly compressed in the front part of their body.
Electric Eel vs Moray Eel: Jaws and Teeth
When it comes to the electric eel vs moray eel’s teeth, the moray eel’s more impressive. They have 2 sets of teeth, and electric eels don’t even have upper teeth.
Electric eels must use suction power to pull their prey down their throat. Moray eels have a more advanced technique and a lot more bite power.
One of the moray’s most impressive features of a moray eel is its teeth. They have razor-sharp teeth and massive jaws. Their oversized jaws have a powerful bite. As if that wasn’t enough to make moray eels fascinating (and intimidating), they also have a second set of jaws!
The moray’s second set of jaws is called pharyngeal jaws, including teeth. The pharyngeal jaws reside far behind the moray eels’ throat. The pharyngeal jaws shoot forward to help pull the prey down their throat. It’s not unlike the creature in the movie Alien. You can check out these incredible eel facts to learn more!
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