Common Worm Eel

Moringua Microchir
Common Worm Eel - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Moringua Microchir
Other names Spaghetti Eel, Lesser Thrush Eel
Size Up to 47 cm (18.5 in)
Weight Under .50 kg (1.1 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal & brackish waters, estuaries, rivers & reefs in sandy bottom areas
Depth Range 1 - 20 m (66 ft)
Common Worm Eel Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Common Worm Eel can be found along the coastal regions of Western Australia, to the Northern Territory, spanning from Darwin to Arnhem Land, as well as along the northern coast of Queensland, including the Great Barrier Reef region.
  • This eel species has a slender and elongated body, with a cylindrical shape and smooth, scaleless skin. The coloration of the Common Worm Eel can vary from light brown to dark olive or greenish, blending well with its marine environment.
  • Common Worm Eels are nocturnal hunters, preying on small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. They have a remarkable ability to extend their jaws and swallow prey larger than their own diameter.
  • They possess a well-developed sense of smell, which helps them locate potential food sources in their sandy or muddy environments. Their bodies are extremely flexible, allowing them to navigate through narrow crevices and burrows in search of prey or shelter.
  • These eels have a highly sensitive lateral line system that allows them to detect vibrations and movements in the water, helping them navigate and locate prey even in low visibility conditions.
  • Common Worm Eel are oviparous, meaning they reproduce by laying eggs. The spawning season for this species generally occurs during the warmer months, typically between November and April, when water temperatures are higher. Females release large numbers of buoyant eggs into the water column. These eggs hatch into larvae, known as leptocephali, which have a ribbon-like appearance and are transparent. The leptocephali then drift with ocean currents, undergoing a larval stage before metamorphosing into juvenile eels and settling in coastal habitats.
  • The estimated lifespan for these eels is up to 10 years.
Species Interaction

Aquarium, Elusive Species

Common Worm Eels can occasionally be found in home aquariums, although they require specialised care due to their unique needs. They need a tank that replicates their natural habitat, with a sandy or muddy substrate and plenty of hiding places like PVC pipes or caves. They are a burrowing, nocturnal species making human interactions with this species minimal.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Anguilliformes

Family: Moringuidae

Genus: Moringua

Species: Moringua Microchir

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Common Worm Eel in Australia is not specifically assessed or listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This means that there is no official categorisation of their conservation status at the global level.

Common Worm Eel
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Aggressive

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Elusive / Overlooked Species

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Shy

Location: Inner reef

Danger: None