Fangjaw Eel

Fangjaw Eel, Echiophis brunneus

The Fangjaw Eel, Echiophis brunneus, whose common Spanish name is tieso colmillón, is a species in the Snake Eel or Ophichthidae Family, known collectively as tiesos in Mexico. This eel is also known as the Pacific Spoon-Nose Eel and was introduced by the scientific community as a new species as recently as 1983. Globally, there are only five species in the genus Echiophis, three of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

The Fangjaw Eels have stout cylindrical bodies. They have a tan coloration and are covered with numerous small brown spots on their back and sides. They have a brown dorsal fin and black pectoral fins. Their head has a short conical snout with a long mouth and small eyes that are far forward on top. They have strong pointed teeth; the largest are fangs and are found at the front of their mouth. Their caudal fin has a blunt tip and is finless. Their dorsal fin originates behind their small and rounded pectoral fins. Their tail is 52 to 57% of total length.

The Fangjaw Eels are a shallow water species found at depths up to 30 feet and are normally buried in sand and mud. They reach a maximum length of 1.40 meters (4 feet 7 inches). They are very rare with a limited distribution and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Fangjaw Eels have a very limited distribution being found only along the northeastern coast of the Sea of Cortez.

The Fangjaw Eel cannot be confused with any other species due to its coloration and tooth structure.

The Fangjaw Eel is too rare and too obscure to be of interest to most.

Fangjaw Eel (1)

Fangjaw Eel, Echiophis brunneus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, November 2014. Length: 48 cm (19 inches). Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.