Spaghetti Eels, Worm Eels
Compiler and date details
John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates, Dianne J. Bray & Douglass F. Hoese
A total of 15 species in two genera are recognised for inclusion in the Moringuidae (Castle 1984), although Nelson (1994) suggested as few as six species. Five species in both genera have been recorded from Australia. Some 30 names are available for the Indo-Pacific species of Moringua and the following synonymies and distributions for Australia are tentative.
Spaghetti eels are commonly taken as juveniles in coral reef collections, but most of the 200+ Australian Museum specimens have not been identified to species. Recorded food items include polychaetes, foraminiferans and fishes. Moringuids are thin, elongate eels with small eyes and no scales. The reduced fins of juveniles develop towards maturity. Striking sexual dimorphism complicates the taxonomy. They may reach a maximum length of 1.2 m.
The moringuids have not been revised comprehensively. Of the two recognised genera, Neoconger was revised by Smith & Castle (1972), and the three western Indian Ocean species of Moringua were revised by Castle (1968) who discussed the problem of the Indo-Pacific species. Smith (1999) provided a key to genera.
P.H.J. Castle formerly of Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, provided advice on the taxonomic problems associated with the family.
Castle, P.H.J. 1968. A contribution to a revision of the moringuid eels. Special Publication of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology Rhodes University 3: 1-29 figs 1-3
Castle, P.H.J. 1984. Notacanthiformes and Anguilliformes: development. 62-93 figs 29-43 in Moser, H.G. et al. (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Special Publication 1: 1-760
Nelson, J.S. 1994. Fishes of the World. New York : John Wiley & Sons 600 pp.
Smith, D.G. 1999. Families Halosauridae, Notacanthidae, Lipogenyidae, Anguillidae, Moringuidae, Chlopsidae, Myrocongridae. pp. 1625-1642 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 1397-2068 pp.
Smith, D.G. & Castle, P.H.J. 1972. The eel genus Neoconger Girard; systematics, osteology and life history. Bulletin of Marine Science 22(1): 196-249 figs 1-27
Common Name References
Smith, D.G. 1999. Families Halosauridae, Notacanthidae, Lipogenyidae, Anguillidae, Moringuidae, Chlopsidae, Myrocongridae. pp. 1625-1642 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 1397-2068 pp.  (FAO) (Spaghetti Eels)