Brown Garden Eel – Heteroconger longissimus

The Brown Garden Eel or simply Garden Eel is a species in the family of the Congridae and therefore belongs to the order of the Anguilliformes. Heteroconger longissimus was first described by Albert Günther in 1870.

Brown Garden Eel Heteroconger longissimus Image scuba diving canary islands anguilliformes species
Brown Garden Eel – Heteroconger longissimus


Brown Garden Eels have a dark brown to black colour with white, fine dots and white belly. Also noticeable are their large eyes and the distinctly protruding lower jaw. Heteroconger longissimus can be up to 60cm long and the number of their vertebrae is up to 165.

Habitat and Distribution

Brown Garden Eel always live in a hole in sandy soil. In addition, they are usually found near to small reefs up to 60m deep. When diving in the Canaries, we often meet it from depths of about 25 m, in rare cases also shallower. Furthermore Heteroconger longissimus is distributed in the eastern Atlantic in Madeira, Cape Verde and Senegal and in the western Atlantic from the Bahamas, Florida Keys, Cuba, Antilles, Yucatan, Belize and Honduras to Brazil.


Normally, Brown Garden Eels live in large colonies, although occasional groups of e.g. only five individuals occur. They never leave their protective hole and pull back completely in the event of a threat. Mostly you only see their head and the front half of their body.
Heteroconger longissimus reproduction is most likely to take place during the summer. The larval stage lasts between 6 and 8 months. The larvae live pelagic and can be found up to over 900m depth until the young eels find their own hole.

Brown Garden Eel feed on plankton and detritus.

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