Ribbon Eel [The Complete Guide]

Ribbon Eel

Ribbon Eel, also known as Leaf-nosed Moray Eel or Bernis Eel, is a type of moray eel and the only one in its genus, Rhinomuraena.

It used to be known as two separate species – blue and black ribbon eels – but now they are considered the same.

This unique eel lives in lagoons and reefs across the Indo-Pacific Ocean, from East Africa to Japan, Australia, and French Polynesia.

Divers often see it with its head sticking out of sandy crevices at depths up to 60 meters (197 feet).

Although part of the moray family, some scientists think it should have its own family due to distinct features like expanded nostrils.

Ribbon Eel looks like a Chinese dragon with a long body and high dorsal fins. When divers approach, the Ribbon eel’s jaws open wide.

In captivity, though, color differences may not indicate maturity or gender. These secretive creatures usually hide in sand or rubble and eat small fish.

They are also not reef-safe due to their feeding habits and potential impact on other marine life.

Ribbon Eel Interesting Facts

  • Ribbon Eels are the only species in the Rhinomuraena genus and were once considered two separate species.
  • Found in the Indo-Pacific region, these eels live near coral reefs at depths of 1 to 67 meters.
  • They have unique features like expanded nostrils and are believed to change gender as they mature.
  • In their natural habitat, Ribbon Eels hide in sand or rubble and feed on small fish.

Ribbon Eel Habitat

Ribbon Eel is found in the Indo-Pacific region, from East Africa to the Tuamoto Islands and Southern Japan down to New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

It includes areas like the Marianas and Marshalls. This fish lives in marine environments near coral reefs, doesn’t migrate, and is found at depths ranging from 1 to 67 meters.

Ribbon Eel thrives in tropical waters between 32°N to 26°S latitudes.

Water Temperature:Unknown
Water pH:Unknown
Water Hardness:Unknown

Ribbon Eel Physical Characteristics

Size: 51.2 inches (130 centimeters)

Ribbon Eel size varies as per its gender. Males are usually smaller than their female counterparts.

The maximum size male ribbon eels reach is 37.0 inches (94 centimeters), while larger females grow up to 51.0 inches (130 centimeters) long.

Physical Features

  • No dorsal or anal spines,
  • 270 to 286 vertebrae,
  • Three tentacles on the lower jaw tip,
  • One pointed projection at the snout tip, and
  • Tubular nostrils with fan-like expansions.


  • Young Ribbon Eels have black bodies with yellow dorsal fins. As males grow older, they turn blue, while females become mostly yellow or yellow-blue toward their tails. In captivity, though, color differences may not indicate maturity or gender.
  • Their bodies are very long, laterally compressed, and the tail is longer than their head and trunk.
  • The depth at the gill opening is about 65% to 75% of their total length (TL).
  • The dorsal fin starts closer to the mouth than the gill opening. The preanal length is about 3.0 to 3.3 times their total length.
  • Ribbon Eels also have large tubular nostrils that end in fan-shaped appendages. They also have a slender barbel projecting forward from their upper jaw and three barbels on their lower jaw’s front side. The teeth are small, slender, and slant backward in a single row.

Ribbon Eel Reproduction

It’s believed that Ribbon Eels change gender from male to female as they mature (protandric hermaphrodite). However, this has not been confirmed yet.

Ribbon Eel Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Rhinomuraena quaesita
Also Known As:Ribbon Eel, Leaf-nosed Moray Eel, Bernis Eel
Conservation Status:Least Concern

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