The appearance of European eels varies greatly depending on life stage. As leptocephali, European eels are small, leaflike, and transparent (Deelder, 1970). After metamorphosing into the silver stage, European eels appear silvery in color with elongated dorsal and anal fins that are continuous with the caudal fin (Deelder, 1970). European eels lack pelvic fins (Deelder, 1970). Upon full sexual maturation, European eels develop enlarged eyes, lose their ability to feed, and turn green, yellow or brownish in color (Van Ginniken and Thillhart, 2000).
Female eels are generally substantially larger than males. The largest recorded mass of a female eel is 6.599 g (Dekker, van Os and van Willigen, 1998). The maximum published length of a European eel was 133 cm.
Range mass: 6,599 (high) g.
Range length: 133 (high) cm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger
- Deelder, C. 1970. Synopsis of biological data of the eel Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758). FAO Fish. Synop., 80: 68.
- Dekker, W., B. van Os, J. van Willigen. 1998. Minimal and maximal size of eel.. L'ANGUILLE EUROPENNE. 10E REUNION DU GROUPE DE TRAVAIL "ANGUILLE" EIFAC/ICES..
- Van Ginneken, V., G. Van Den Thillart. 2000. Physiology: Eel fat stores are enough to reach the Sargasso. Nature, 403: 156-157.