Shorttail Conger, Paraconger similis
The Shorttail Conger, Paraconger similis, whose common Spanish name is congrio colicorta, 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 Shorttail Congers have elongated cylindrical “eel-like” bodies. They are tan to reddish brown in color transitioning to silver ventrally. They lack other significant markings. The margins of their anal and dorsal fins are tan. Their head is long with a rounded tapering snout, a large mouth, and large eyes. Their caudal fin is short and stiff. Their dorsal fin originates over their well-developed yellow pectoral fins. Their tail length is approximately 57% of total length. They have a complete lateral line.
The Shorttail Congers reside buried within coastal sandy bottoms at depths between 160 to 490 feet. They reach a maximum length of 74 cm (29 inches), which was established by a fish in my possession and described below. They are a rare and poorly studied species and as such very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Shorttail Congers have a limited distribution being found around the tip of Baja (as established by fish photographed below) and along the coast of the mainland from Mazatlán south to Guatemala.
The Shorttail Conger can be confused with the Sharpnose Conger, Ariosoma gilberti (tail 50% of total length) and the Ringeye Conger, Paraconger californiensis (dark ring in iris; black spot at edge of eye).
The Shorttail Congers are relatively small, exceedingly rare, and of limited interest to most.
Shorttail Conger, Paraconger similis. Fish caught from coastal waters north of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, March 2007. Note: six identical eels were caught on the same day with lengths varying from 25 cm (10 inches) to 30 cm (12 inches). Their tail lengths varied from 54.6% to 57.7%. Identification reconfirmed by Dr. Richard Rosenblatt, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA. A different fish measuring 74 cm (29 inch) in length (head 16.2%, trunk 26.3%; tail 57.5%) was provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area in March 2011. It exceeded the maximum known length for this species by a full 22.0 cm (8.7 inches). Identification of that fish courtesy of Dr. David Smith, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.