Gymnothorax miliaris

Common Name

Goldentail Moray

Year Described

Kaup, 1856


Body elongate yet robust with well developed dorsal and anal finfolds. Trunk a little shorter than tail. Head tapers anteriorly. Snout blunt. Jaw closes completely. Teeth smooth. Multiple rows of fangs in upper jaw: an outer row of small outer teeth, an inner row of larger canines, and a median row of canines. Two rows of teeth on either side of the rear upper jaw. Vomer with a row of teeth. Lower jaw with an outer row of small pointed teeth and an inner row of larger fangs. Anterior nostril is a small tube. Rear nostril an external, slightly raised opening above anterior margin of eye. Eye large. Throat region grooved. Gill opening a simple hole. Dorsal origin well anterior to gill opening. Fins confluent around tail. Vertebral formula: 5-49-120.


A very variable species but always a combination of brown and yellow. Most often the body is dark brown with numerous small yellow spots and speckles which widen on the tail to create an obvious golden tail tip. The pattern is often reversed with golden being the dominant color with brown spots or speckles but the tail is still golden yellow. Rare individuals are uniformly golden yellow or a piebald pattern of black blotches on a golden body. A black blotch around gill opening. Eye reddish brown with a yellow ring around pupil. Inside of mouth is whitish.


Maximum size to 70cm TL.


Common on coral and rocky reefs from 0-60m.


Southern Florida, the SE Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, to southern Brazil (including oceanic islands). Also Bermuda.


Böhlke, E.B. 2002. Muraenidae (pp 700-718). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 32: Bony fishes part 1 (Acipenseridae to Grammatidae). FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.

Feitoza, B.M., Rocha, L.A., Luiz-Júnior, O.J., Floeter, S.R., & J.L. Gasparini. 2003. Reef fishes of St. Paul’s Rocks: new records and notes on biology and zoogeography. aqua, 7(2), 61-82.

Gasparini, J.L., & S.R. Floeter, S.R. 2001. The shore fishes of Trindade Island, western south Atlantic. Journal of Natural History, 35(11), 1639-1656.

Other Notes

Most closely resembling species of Muraena in pattern but differs in having a different shaped rear nostril that is never tubular. The spots on the body are usually larger in Muraena and the gill blotch is usually more distinct.