Harlequin Snake Eel, also known as Banded Snake Eel or Ringed Snake Eel, is a type of snake eel found in the Indo-Pacific region. Sometimes, it’s sold in the aquarium trade.
This eel looks like the venomous sea snake Laticauda colubrina, which helps protect it from predators (called Batesian mimicry).
Unlike other Snake Eels that are usually active at night, Harlequin Snake Eels swim freely and hunt during the day. In 2021, this species was first seen in Hawaii.
Adults live in shallow sandy areas and seagrass beds. They are bottom-dwelling creatures that eat small fish and crustaceans.
Harlequin Snake Eels are not reef-safe as they disrupt coral reefs or other marine life forms.
Harlequin Snake Eel Interesting Facts
- Harlequin Snake Eel resemble venomous sea snakes, protecting them from predators through mimicry.
- Active during the day, they hunt small fish and crustaceans in shallow sandy areas and seagrass beds.
- Not reef-safe, these eels can disrupt coral reefs and other marine life forms.
- Found in the Indo-Pacific region, they live in marine reefs at depths of 0 to 35 meters.
Harlequin Snake Eel Habitat
Harlequin Snake Eel is found in the Indo-Pacific region, from the Red Sea to Mozambique and as far east as French Polynesia. It’s commonly mistaken for Laticuda colubrina.
This fish lives in marine reefs at depths of 0 to 35 meters (about 0 to 115 feet) and thrives in tropical waters between 30°N to 30°S latitude.
Harlequin Snake Eel Physical Characteristics
Size: 38.2 inches (97.0 centimeters)
Harlequin Snake Eel is a large fish that grows up to 38.2 inches (97.0 centimeters) long.
It has 190 to 202 vertebrae and features black and white bands on its body, sometimes with blotches. There might be more than one species with this appearance.
Harlequin Snake Eel looks like the venomous sea snake Laticauda colubrina but is actually harmless.
The head of the Harlequin Snake Eel makes up about 17% to 20% of its total length, while its body depth is around 48 to 68 times smaller than the total length.
The tail accounts for about 1.8 to 1.9 times the total length.
The dorsal fin starts before the gill opening, and the anal fin ends on the tail, well ahead of where the dorsal fin ends.
Harlequin Snake Eel has blunt teeth arranged in two rows within its jaws.