There are more than 2,000 types of fish in this world. Some look very similar to an eel, but they aren’t true eels.
I believe that’s why it gets pretty confusing to find the difference between the two.
So, next in this post, I’ve compiled a list of fish that look similar to eels. Let’s get started:
Bichir/ Polypterus senegalus/ Polypterus palmas
The Bichir is known as a bichir or Polypterus senegalus/ Polypterus palmas in the science world. The Bichir belongs to the family of Polypteridae and Perciformes order.
It is also known as freshwater fish, long body fish, and Senegal bichir. It has dark greenish-brown skin color with white spots on its body. Bichir has a long body shape and snake-like movements, and it is often mistaken for an eel because of its appearance. The average length of this freshwater fish is 30 cm / 12 inches, but they can grow up to 1 meter / 3 feet long.
The Reedfish (Dwarf Gourami)
Like the Eels, Reedfish are also very long compared to the former; they are much smaller. They are found in Africa and are prevalent in aquariums worldwide. They can grow up to a length of about three feet.
The most distinctive feature of Reedfish is that they have a long dorsal fin that resembles the spine of a rattlesnake. They are also called Snakefish because of this spine. They feed on small fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans in their natural habitat.
Reedfish can be easily distinguished from Eels due to fan-like pectoral fins on their body.
Moreover, they have lungs, too, giving them an advantage over Eels while they breathe in their watery environment. One more difference between these two fish is that Eels have more teeth when compared to Reedfish.
Pangio Kuhlii belongs to the family of Cobitidae. These fish are native to Asia (mainly Southeast Asia). They are also known as Leopard Loach, Coolie Loach, and Cinnamon Loach.
Pangio Kuhlii is a similar species to Eels. However, Pangio Kuhlii is smaller than an Eel. Besides, these fish have around 12 to 15 dark brown vertical bars on their body. On the contrary, Eels don’t have such vertical bars.
Pangio Kuhlii has a slender body that is similar to that of Eels. Both of them have anal and dorsal fins like Eels. However, the movement of Pangio Kuhlii is very different from that of an Eel since Pangio Kuhlii swims like a fish while Eels are known for their snake-like body movements.
Eel-tailed catfish, also known as Freshwater Catfish and Jewfish, are a group of fish in the river systems of Eastern Australia.
Their elongated and tapering tail resemble eels, though they are not related to true eels.
Eel-tailed catfish range in size from 8½ inches (22 cm) to 2 feet (60 cm). They eat various foods, including insects, crabs, and small fish. Eel-tailed catfish live in freshwater rivers and lagoons in eastern Australia.
Eel-tailed catfish have a cylindrical body and dorsal fins like eels. The lower half of their bodies are also similar to eels.
They resemble eels but are not related to true eels.
Eel-tailed catfish have venomous dorsal and pectoral fin spines, which can cause severe pain if stepped on or handled.
You might think that a Rock Gunnel and an Eel are the same fishes, but they are not. It is easy to mistake one for another as both belong to the Gunnels family and have elongated, flat, and slimy bodies.
While both of these fish are ray-finned species living in the Atlantic Ocean, some differences make it easy to differentiate one from another.
A Rock Gunnel, also called Butterfish, has a dark grey or brownish color with white dots on its body. Its body is flattened and elongated, which makes it resemble an eel.
The anal and dorsal fins of the rock gunnel are similar to that of an eel, which gives it an eel-like appearance. Their bodies are covered by a protective layer of mucus, making them slimy. They have small pelvic fins, but eels don’t have any pelvic fins. So this is how you can distinguish between a Rock Gunnel and an Eel by their anatomy.
The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a South American freshwater fish capable of generating electricity. Electric eels use their specialized electrogenic electrolytes to generate powerful passive electric fields around their bodies and control the direction of the resulting current. This current can reach up to 860 volts, enough to stun most fishes and stun or kill many potential predators, such as humans.
- Electric eels are elongated fish with cylindrical bodies and large jaws. The back is dark gray-brown or olive green, while the belly is yellowish. The skin is covered with small, thin plates called “scales.” An adult may attain a length of two meters and a weight of 44 pounds. No scales are present on the body to protect its surface from the shocks it generates.
- The mouth is square and has no teeth on its lower jaw, which is unusual among fish. The jaws are muscular and powerful, allowing for solid bites; this species can swallow prey whole.
- The anal fin extends the length of the body nearly to the tip of the tail
- The large eyes lack a refractive lens and possess a reflective layer behind them. There is also an inner eyelid that acts as a translucent screen.