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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Shipwreck Habitat (Tropical Diver)

Species at Georgia Aquarium:

  • Skeletor moray - Echidna xanthospilus
  • Zebra moray - Gymnomuraena zebra

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs worldwide in tropical and temperate seas.
  • Found in shallow waters in coral and rocky reefs, often seen with only the head poking out from a crevice, hole or ledge.
  • Most species are marine, but several occur in brackish or freshwater environments.

Physical Characteristics

  • Body is elongated, muscular and snakelike with a continuous dorsal, caudal and anal fin. Lacks pectoral and pelvic fins.
  • Skin is thick, smooth, lacks scales and is covered in a protective mucus.
  • Many species are brightly colored or patterned.
    • Skeletor moray has distinct yellow spots.
    • Zebra moray has black and white striping.
  • Large mouths with many teeth.
  • Maximum length:
    • Skeletor moray: 2.5 feet (75 cm)
    • Zebra moray: 4.9 feet (150 cm)

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet is varied and may include other fishes, crustaceans or cephalopods.
  • Dentition may be indicative of a species’ primary prey. Many species of moray have long, sharp teeth for grabbing slippery prey. Others, like the zebra moray, have flat, plate-like teeth for crushing hard-shelled prey.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Oviparous, or egg-laying, family of eels.
  • Like all true eels, this family has a transparent, leaf-like larval stage called a “leptocephalus.”

Conservation Status

  • Georgia Aquarium species “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Many species are nocturnal hunters.
  • Relatively slow swimmers.
  • Breathe by continuously opening their mouths to pump water over their gills, contributing to their threatening appearance.
  • Morays are used as food in some parts of the world, though many species are known to be toxic when consumed.


Animal: Smithsonian Institution. David Burnie & Don E. Wilson.
Reef Fishes, Volume 1. Michael, Scott W.