Most garden eels live in the Indo-Pacific, but species are also found in the Atlantic Ocean (including the Caribbean) and East Pacific. Colonies are usually found on sandy flats and slopes bordering coral reefs, sometimes living among seagrass for extra camouflage. Garden eel colonies can grow as large as one acre in surface area.
These small eels live in burrows on the sea floor and get their name from their practice of poking their heads from their holes while most of their bodies remain hidden. Since they tend to live in groups, the many eel heads “growing” from the sea floor resemble the plants in a garden. The largest species reaches about 120 cm (47 in) in length, but most are no longer than 60 cm (24 in).
Snake eels create burrows directly below garden eels before attacking them tail-first. Triggerfish might use brute force to dive into the sand and snatch the eel from its hole.