When I was watching a nature documentary on television recently, a massive American Eel stuck out to me the most amongst all of the other sea animals that were featured in the film.
So, I did some research online to find out the actual mass of one of these unique aquatic animals.
The American Eel, in particular, is a fascinating creature that can grow to be quite large in its adult years.
From the moment they hatch from their eggs, they will continue to grow until they reach full size.
Keep reading to find out the exact statistics for how big these fish can really grow, and how this differs between individual eels.
Must read: This is The Life Cycle of The American Eel!
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Table of Contents
The Average Weight of an American Eel
Average American Eel Mass:
- Adult Male: 10-16 pounds (lower end of the scale)
- Adult Female: 10-16 pounds (higher end of the scale)
As American Eels continue to grow in length during their stages of development, they acquire more mass along with it. They are carnivorous animals that prey on smaller fish and insects that exist around them.
The typical prey of an American Eel include crabs, worms, clams, and frogs amongst other smaller creatures.
In addition, they could also potentially eat dead animal matter that is left in the water or nearby on land.
The average weight of an American Eel can be anywhere from 10 to 16 pounds as a general reference.
As mentioned earlier, the female eels of this species are usually significantly larger than the males.
With an approximate length of 5 feet, female American Eels weigh in closer to the maximum of 16 pounds. The male eels, on the other hand, only extend about 3 feet long at the end of their development, which is significantly less than their female counterparts.
This difference in length directly translates to a gap in average weight, as a result.
Male American Eels will typically fall on the lower end of the spectrum around the 10-pound mark.
Some American eels have been reported to weight just under 9 pounds, while some have been found to be even larger than the average maximum, going up to almost 20 pounds.
American Eel Body Length
American Eel Lengths:
- Glass Eel – 2 to 3 inches
- Elver – 4 inches or more
- Adult Female – up to 5 feet
- Adult Male – up to 3 feet
From the time that they are born, American Eels begin developing and growing in length until they have reached their full adult size.
As soon as they hatch from their eggs as larvae, they float in the water of the ocean until they develop into something called a glass eel.
Glass eels are tiny creatures with an appearance that is almost transparent, which is why they are given the name “glass”.
At this stage, the eels have grown enough to begin traveling on their own, and will soon migrate into a nearby body of fresh water.
The average length of a glass eel will be no more than 2 to 3 inches.
This is the beginning stage of their adult development, so they are extremely small within this stage.
Once the glass eels have successfully reached their destination, they grow more until they become elvers.
Elvers lose their transparent appearance while developing color on their outer skin and scales. At this stage, they will first appear yellow and then gradually transform into a more silver color.
Elvers typically grow over 4 inches in length after breaking through their glass eel stage and will continue to extend until their final adult years.
When American Eels become full grown adults, a difference between the sizes of the males and females will present itself. In general, female American Eels are larger than the males, at a total length of approximately 5 feet in comparison to 3.
More Info About The American Eel
The American Eel is a fish that is most commonly found in the ocean along the Eastern coast of North America.
The texture of the fish is smooth, with a similar appearance to that of a snake. They are usually black or brown in color, with green and yellow tones along the scales.
These scales, however, are barely visible under the thick layer of mucus that coats the skin.
This is what makes eels so slippery, which is where the saying “slippery as an eel” originated from.
Along with the ocean, the American Eel can be found in almost any body of water including lakes, streams, rivers, and other freshwater locations.
American Eels hunt for food at night and are able to disguise themselves easily due to the color of their scales.
They can even travel through wet areas on land for short periods of time by absorbing oxygen through their skin.
Contrary to popular belief, American Eels specifically are not able to produce electric shock through their bodies.
American Eel Characteristics:
- Smooth texture on body
- Snake-like appearance
- Brown/black scales with yellow and green
- Can absorb oxygen through scales if needed
- Does not have electric shock abilities
Male vs Female American Eels
Female American Eels:
- Slower growth process
- Larger adult size and weight
Male American Eels:
- Faster growth process
- Smaller adult size and weight
One of the main factors that determine the final adult weight of an American Eel is gender.
We know that the females most commonly extend longer and weigh more than the males, but how and why exactly does this happen?
After learning about the statistical difference in size and weight, it can be surprising to find out about the growth cycles between the two genders.
The male American Eels will actually grow and mature faster than the females in most cases during the developmental stages.
However, the females will quickly catch up and end up being larger as adults, with several inches and pounds over their male counterparts.
This could be due to the fact that the females will lay millions of eggs in the ocean toward the end of their life and their bodies must be prepared for the task of carrying them and giving birth.
Do American Eels bite humans?
Yes. American Eels are not friendly animals and will bite anything from other fish to humans, especially those who are trying to catch them on a line. Not to be confused with electric eels, these fish have not been reported to cause significant damage to humans, although fishing for them can still be potentially dangerous.
What are the other types of eels that exist around the world?
The other types of eels that could be confused with the American Eel are Electric, Freshwater, and Saltwater Eels. Some of which produce high levels of electric voltage, while others are typically cooked and consumed by humans all over the world.
Do humans eat American Eels?
Many types of eel are popular to eat among humans, especially in Japanese cuisine. The eel that you will find on the menu of your favorite sushi restaurant could be an American Eel. Species of freshwater eel are safe to eat and be consumed by humans. Regardless of the type of eel that is used, they will always be poisonous until cooked.