Painted Moray, Gymnothorax pictus (Ahl 1789)

Other Names: Bar-cheeked Eel, Black-speckled Reef-eels, Peppered Moray

A Painted Moray, Gymnothorax pictus, at Oyster Island, Vanuatu. Source: William T. White. License: All rights reserved

A whitish to pale grey moray densely speckled with irregular, dark brown to black spots. Juveniles are yellowish with larger hollow-centred spots in about three rows along the body.
Video of a Painted Moray, Gymnothorax pictus. 

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Gymnothorax pictus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024,

Painted Moray, Gymnothorax pictus (Ahl 1789)

More Info


North West Cape, WA, around the tropical north to the Capricorn Group, QLD; also Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean. The species occurs elsewhere in the tropical, Indo-Pacific.

Adults shelter in crevices, and under rocks and large rubble blocks on reef flats and rocky intertidal shores.


Feeds mostly on crabs, and also on small fishes and other crustaceans, sometimes leaving the water in pursuit of prey.

Species Citation

Muraena picta Ahl 1789. Specimen ichthyologicum de Muraena et Ophichtho.: 8, pl. 2. Type locality: East Indies [Indonesia].


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Painted Moray, Gymnothorax pictus (Ahl 1789)


Ahl, J.N. 1789. Specimen ichthyologicum de Muraena et Ophichtho. Inaug. Dissert. Uppsala 14 pp. 2 pls.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Böhlke, E.B., McCosker, J.E. & Smith, D.G. 1999. Family Muraenidae. pp. 1643-1657 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Böhlke, E.B. & McCosker, J.E. 2001. The moray eels of Australia and New Zealand, with the description of two new species (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae). Records of the Australian Museum 53: 71-102 figs 1-10

Castle, P. H. J. & McCosker, J. E. 1986. Family No. 41: Muraenidae. pp. 165-176 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Chave, E.H.N. & Randall, H.A. 1971. Feeding Behavior of the Moray Eel,Gymnothorax pictusCopeia 1971(3): 570-574. Abstract

Fishelson, L. 1992. Comparative gonad morphology and sexuality of the Muraenidae (Pisces, Teleostei). Copeia 1992(1): 197-209.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia, p. 1-302.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

McCosker, J.E. & Stewart, A.L. 2006. Additions to the New Zealand marine eel fauna with the description of a new moray, Anarchias supremus (Teleostei: Muraenidae), and comments on the identity of Gymnothorax griffini Whitley & Phillips. J. R. Soc. N. Z. 36(2): 83-95.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Sadovy de Mitcheson, Y. & M. Liu. 2008. Functional hermaphroditism in teleosts. Fish & Fisheries 9(1): 1-43.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37060015

Biology:Simultaneous hermaphrodite

Danger:May cause ciguatera

Depth:0-3 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:120 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map