T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Eel (Australian longfinned) Anguilla reinhardtii

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anguilliformes
Family: Anguillidae
Genus: Anguilla
Species: A. reinhardtii
Binomial name: Anguilla reinhardtii
Common name: Australian longfinned eel, Spotted eel, Speckled longfin eel, Marbled eel

Anguilla reinhardtii is essentially a tropical eel that is an occasional visitor to New Zealand from Australia. It is one of three Anguilla species found in New Zealand. It is a native of New Guinea, eastern Australia, Lord Howe Island and New Caledonia. Its habits are freshwater areas, including creeks, streams, rivers, swamps, dams, lagoons and lakes. It has only been officially identified from the Waikato River but mottled eels have been reported on the west coast from Northland to Taranaki and also on the east coast of the Coromandel and it may be moderately widespread in the northern North Island. It is thought that their arrival here will continue to be erratic and intermittent although the confirmed presence over several years suggests migration here is certainly more than an isolated event.

Anguilla reinhardtii has a long snake like cylindrical body with its dorsal, tail and anal fins joined to form one long fin. The Australian longfin has conspicuous black blotches all over its body except on its belly which is paler. This is the easiest way of distinguishing it from the New Zealand longfin. It has a small gill opening on each side of its wide head, with thick lips. It is Australia's largest freshwater eel, and the female usually grows much larger than the male. In Australia it can grow to 1.6 metres and 22 kg (although generally to 1 metre) for females while males are much smaller at 650 mm and 600 g. In Australia landlocked eels have been reported to grow to 3 metre.