Ringeye Conger, Paraconger californiensis
The Ringeye Conger, Paraconger californiensis, whose common Spanish name is congrio anteojos, is a species in the Conger Eel or Congridae Family, known collectively as congrios in Mexico. Globally, there are only seven species in the genus Paraconger, three of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.
The Ringeye Congers have elongated cylindrical “eel-like” bodies. They are tan to reddish brown in color transitioning to silver ventrally. Their eyes have a dark brown ring encircling 80% of the iris but completely missing at the bottom (after which they are named). There is a small dark blotch immediately behind the top edge of their eyes. The margins of their anal and dorsal fins are black. Their head has a rounded tapering snout, a large mouth, and large eyes. Their caudal fin is short, stiff, and has a white tip. Their dorsal fin originates over their well-developed pectoral fins. Their tail length is reported to be 67% of total length, however the five fish I have encountered had tails between 58% and 60%. They have a complete lateral line.
The Ringeye Congers reside buried within coastal sandy bottoms at depths between 50 to 230 feet. They reach a maximum length of 60 cm (24 inches). They are a rare and poorly studied species and as such very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Ringeye Conger are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from northern portions of the Sea of Cortez and from along the entire West coast of Baja.
The Ringeye Conger is similar to, and can be confused with, the Sharpnose Conger, Ariosoma gilberti (tail 50% of total length; lacks dark ring within eye) and the Shorttail Conger, Paraconger similis (only one-half dark ring in upper portion of the iris
The Ringeye Congers are relatively small, exceedingly rare, and of limited interest to most.