Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Anguilliformes

Family: Anguillidae

Genus: Anguilla

Species: A. australis

Physical Description

Shortfin eels are one of the three Anguillidae species found in New Zealand. They differ from longfin eels in the length of their dorsal fin. In shortfin eels, the dorsal and anal fins are the same length so the ends are almost adjacent when the fish is viewed side-on. In longfin eels the dorsal fin is longer and extends well forward towards the head. Shortfin eels usually have a silvery belly compared to a yellowish one on longfins, but colours can vary considerably. It reaches an average length of 65 m and can live up to about 32 years.


The short finned eel is feed on fishes, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, aquatic plants, and terrestrial and aquatic insects. This species does not breed outside its Pacific spawning ground. It migrate to the Pacific when breeding season female lay their eggs and the male fertilizes it and the newborns are eventfully returning to its natural habitat upstream

Habitat and Distribution

Occur in streams, lakes and swamps. More likely inhabits slow flowing streams or still waters. Generally shortfin eels are found at lower elevations and not as far inland as longfin eels, but they are still able to climb large obstacles such as waterfalls when they are young. They are often very numerous in lowland lakes, wetlands, and streams, and shortfin eels form the basis of the commercial eel fishery that has existed for over 20 years in New Zealand. Shortfin eels are found throughout New Zealand and on Chatham and Stewart Island. However, they are not unique to this country and also occur throughout the South Pacific – in Australia, New Caledonia, Norfolk and Lord Howe Island, and perhaps Fiji