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Speckled Longfin Eel

Anguilla reinhardtii


The "speckled longfin eel" is one of 15 species of eel in the family Anguillidae. It's an elongated fish with a long, cylindrical body with dorsal, tail and anal fins, all forming one long fin. They are the largest freshwater eels in Australia, and females grow much larger than males. Longfin eels 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. Landlocked eels have been reported to grow to 3 metres (10 feet). They can also live extremely long lives — maybe even 100 years.


It can be found in many freshwater areas, including creeks, streams, rivers, swamps, dams, lagoons, and lakes although generally more often in rivers than lakes. These eels were spotted at the freshwater lake on the University of Queensland Campus, Brisbane. NB: The water quality in the lake is currently very poor due to an algal bloom. It is the worst I have ever seen in all the years that I've been coming here. I can only suggest it's due to the current, persistent drought. We've had very little rainfall these past few months to replenish the water, and an excess of nutrients such as phosphate causes the bloom. Animals have to poo, right?


The poor eels come off second-best, as do the turtles. Unfortunately, they are convenient stepping stones for the various birds that frequent the lake, so it's no wonder they get a bit snappy when the birds get too boisterous (1st photo). The birds in this spotting are Pacific black ducks, Eurasian coots, dusky moorhens, plus there are a dozen or more Brisbane short-necked turtles (not birds, just in case you were wondering). No one seems to hold a grudge though.

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross 5 months ago

Thanks, Tukup. I watched this ruckus for ages - very amusing. I'll add to the mission. Totally missed that one.

Tukup 5 months ago

Forgot to mention the great write-up. I appreciate the info.

Tukup 5 months ago

Cool spotting Neil. I love to see "natural" confrontations. We have raccoons, opossums and skunks confronting each other nightly in our back yard and I love to watch which is the most aggressive. It changes from night to night. Yours looks like "interactions between species" to me :-) so should be a candidate for the 2019 Best Wildlife Photo.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 5 months ago

Thanks, Brian. Eels are primarily carnivorous, so they would go for fish and crustaceans, both of which occur in the lake and river. There's no doubt the odd duckling would also be taken. The adult birds have absolutely no fear of the eels, and I saw a couple receive some mighty good pecks - they eels didn't argue and retreated.

Brian38 5 months ago

Amazing spotting Neil! What are the eels eating in the lake? That one looks like it might like duck.

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Lat: -27.50, Long: 153.02

Spotted on Aug 25, 2019
Submitted on Sep 1, 2019

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