In the Mid-Atlantic Bight, conger eels (Conger oceanicus) occur from the coastal portions of estuaries to the edge of the continental shelf. In deeper waters they occupy burrows of the tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps). Between 1972 and 1974 we examined the stomachs and intestines of conger eels from inshore New Jersey (USA) waters (n=35, with a total length: TL of 21 to 49 cm) and between 1980 and 1983 offshore (n=295, 50 to 125 cm TL)_collections. Eels from both areas fed primarily on decapod crustaceans and fish. The specific identity of prey items within these groups generally differed from inshore to offshore areas, probably reflecting the differences in prey availability. Foods of specimens collected offshore varied with size: smaller eels (<80 cm TL) fed most heavily on decapod crustaceans, whereas larger eels (>80 cm) consumed more fishes. The presence of some nocturnally active prey items in the gut, primarily the eel Lepophidium cervinum, suggests that conger eels are nocturnal feeders. This is supported by in situ observations that conger eels are present in some tilefish burrows during the day and are presumably out of burrows and foraging at night.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science