Shorttail Conger, Shorttail Conger Eel
Congrio Cola Corta, Congrio Chalo, Congrio Colicorta
(Paraconger similis)

Shorttail Conger, Paraconger similis: The Shorttail Conger has a stout cylindrical body that is fairly easy to identify from its distinctive markings. It has a large head with a tapered snout with large eyes in which the irises have a dark semicircle that is present in the upper half of the eye.

The key to identification of the Shorttail Conger is that the tail is 57 percent of the total body length.

Its general appearance is a uniform tan coloration with a white spot at the origin of the dorsal fin. In more mature specimens the pectoral fins are red.

The Shorttail Conger can be confused with the Sharpnose Conger, Ariosoma gilberti (tail is 50 percent of total length), and the California Conger, Paraconger californiensis (ring in iris 80 percent complete, black spot at edge of eye, tail 67 percent of total length).

The Shorttail Conger is found between 150 and 500 feet deep in the water column over sandy bottoms.

The maximum length for this fish is reported to be 52 cm (20.5 inches) but we have collected a fish that was 74 cm (29.1 inches) establishing a new limit for this species.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

In Mexican fishing waters the Shorttail Conger can only be found around the extreme tip of Baja California and along the coast of the Mexican mainland from Mazatlan south to Guatemala. It is absent from along the Pacific side of Baja, the Sea of Cortez, and from around Mexico's oceanic islands.

We have also heard reports that the Shorttail Conger is considered dangerous, but the scientific literature indicates that it is harmless although it does bite and can draw blood fairly easily. For the brave at heart, we have heard that these eels make excellent food.

The Shorttail Conger is a member of the Congridae Family which includes Conger Eels and Garden Eels. The genus Paraconger has eight global species of which two are found in Mexican waters. The Conger Eels have stout cylindrical “eel-shaped” bodies with rounded snouts, large eyes and lips, and bodies that taper toward the tail. Their dorsal fin originates over the well developed pectoral fins and the top of the small gill openings. They have a straight complete lateral line. The anal, caudal and dorsal fins are continuous. They have tails that are longer than their heads and body.

Short-tail Conger picture

Shorttail Conger, Paraconger similis: Fish donated to by the commerical fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, Mexico, March 2011. Length 74 cm or 29 inches (head 16.2%; trunk 26.3%; tail 57.5%). Note the previously recoreded maximum length for this species is 42.3 cm (16.6 inches). Identification courtesy of Dr. David Smith, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.

Short-tail Conger picture 1

Short-tail Conger picture 2

Shorttail Conger, Paraconger similis: Caught while fishing with Capt. Pata in the panga Salomé, 10 miles north of La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in March 2007, in 72-degree, 450-foot deep water utilizing a Sabiki Rig, with large light stick, tipped with cut Bonita bait. Note: six identical eels were caught on the same day with lengths varying from 10 to 12 inches. Tail lengths of these six collections varied from 54.6 percent to 57.7 percent of the total body length. Species identity confirmed by Dr. Richard Rosenblatt, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif. Description and photos courtesy of John Snow.

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