Hagfish is often referred as an eel or snake by the common people at their first sight. But it is not an eel or snake neither. Hagfish is indeed a fish hagfishand is often referred as a slime eel. But the fish does not have the body shape like other fishes. This fact makes is a most sordid and odd species in the sea world.
Kingdom : Animalia Phylum : Chordata Class : Myxini Order : Myxiniformes Family : Myxinidae
Hagfish have eel like and long body. The tail of the hagfish takes the shape of a paddle. They are 18 inches long i.e. half a meter but the Eptatretus goliath species of the hogfish can grow up to 127 cm. The physical appearance of hogfish is similar to that of the eel and hence it gets the nick name "slime eel". Fins and jaws are absent and they lack true eyes but simple eyespots are present. Since they lack fins their movement is featured with the help of tails that have the shape of a paddle. They have six barbs around their mouth and a nostril. In addition they have a pair of horizontal moving jaw structure with tooth like projection for pulling the food.
Hag fish has four hearts, two brains, and cartilaginous skull. Hagfish is the only creature that has skull but does not have a spine chord. Although they have eyespot the images are not clearly visible to species and hence they are almost blind. On the other hand they have a developed system of smelling sense
The color of the hagfish varies depending on the species. Mostly they are seen in reddish gray or grayish brown in color. They are mostly covered with black or white spots on the body as well.
Hagfish can grow to the size of half meter that is almost 18 inches. But the Eptatretus goliath species has the capacity to grow about 127 cm long.
Except North Atlantic Ocean the hagfish can be found in all other oceans in the world. They usually habitat them to the cold water and are found 4,000 feet deep in the ocean. They also bury themselves in burrows on the soft sand of the ocean.
Hagfish feed on other fishes that are living as well as death fishes. The feeding of hagfish is quite different from other types of creatures. The hagfish enters the fish body through the mouth, gills or anus and start eating the prey after feeding they exit the corpse. This different eating habit hagfish can live for months without feeding. They also prey on small fish, crabs, and shrimps. The hagfish eat only the soft parts of the prey and leaves the bones and skin.
Hagfish are usually seen near the mouths of the rivers or at the high depths of the sea. They burrow themselves under the rock or in the soft mud of the ocean bed. These are only creatures that enter the prey's body through any opening to eat them and exit the corpse. As the hogfish can easily penetrate through the other fish body they are a nuisance to the fisherman when they caught in to their nets. Before the fisherman pulls the net to the boat the hagfish enters the fish body and starts eating it. They have lethargic metabolism and can live for many moths without eating
Only little information is known about the reproduction of hagfish. At present the sex ratio of hag fish is found to be 100:1 favor of females. In some species of hagfish they have both the ovaries and testes and the female gonads do not function until the individual has attained the particular lifecycle stage. The female hagfish lay 20 to 30 eggs which are yolky and the eggs do not have a larval stage
Hagfish are not easily eaten or attacked by other animals. This is because the hagfish secretes a sticky slime that stops the predator in catching the hagfish and consuming it. The sticky slime is called as mucus which reacts with water to form a micro fibrous slime. This makes the hagfish body to be slippery and it also confuses the predator. By making themselves into a knot position the hagfish get rid of their slime and then return back to their original position