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Hagfish: Facts, Pictures & Slime Videos

Updated on December 3, 2011

Hagfish Pictures

New Zealand Hagfish - Mouth of Hagfish
New Zealand Hagfish - Mouth of Hagfish | Source

Hagfish: Slime Eel

The Hagfish is a marine worm-like creature. Despite its gruesome appearance, they are most known for the sticky slime they can make. They are called slime-eels, but they are not related to eels at all. Instead, there is a debate whether the Hagfish is strictly a fish. There are about 60 species of them, belonging to the class of Myxini, and Myxinidae is the name of the Hagfish family. They are found in oceans in many parts of the world.

The Hagfish Mouth, Ugly Ass Fish
The Hagfish Mouth, Ugly Ass Fish

Hagfish: Habitat & Characteristics

Hagfish are lazy creatures that are sometimes found hiding under rocks and crevices. They nest in holes on the seabed, usually just found by the Hagfish. Unless they are disturbed or hungry, they won’t leave the nest. When Hagfish produce slime, they secrete a micro fibrous material into the water that is actually white and liquidly. The material comes out of white holes along the Hagfish’ body. When mixed with water, just a few drops could turn a cup into slime after mixing. You can see many sliming videos on Youtube. A grown Hagfish can have enough micro fibrous material to turn a 5 gallon bucket of water into complete slime in about five minutes. However, Hagfish do have a limit of how much slime they can produce. The slime is mainly used for self-defense, because when touched by a predator or aggravated, the Hagfish will start “sliming”. This method is to distract predators and help them wriggle out of grasp, leaving the slime behind. The slime will disturb and even choke a predator if swallowed. To escape predators, they also use a “knot” method, where they tie into a knot and squeeze themselves away. This is very effective in a difficult situation. Hagfish do indeed have eyes, and only a single nostril. The eyes are extremely poor in sight, without the ability to make out any images. But it is believed that they can detect light.

The Hagfish
The Hagfish

Hagfish: Diet & Eating Habit

Hagfish have a varied diet of dead animal matter. They will usually eat any meat they can find. Food is not rare though. Hagfish have small, comb-like teeth that are designed to rip flesh. The meat is then swallowed whole. However, the Hagfish aren’t complete scavengers, but also parasitic fish. They find live food and grab onto it, slowly eating into the victim alive, even when it’s still alive. Only the skin and bones remain. Hagfish are rather abundant, with no natural predators.

Hagfish Reproduction

Scientists are still trying to find out more about Hagfish reproduction. There is about one male for every 100 Hagfish. Some Hagfish even have one ovary, and one testicle in reproduction. The ovary is inactive for a while until the Hagfish is a certain age. Hagfish lay around 20-30 squishy yellow eggs and are sometimes seen brooding their own eggs. The fry that hatch are small and worm like, and are left alone by predators. With these combined factors, Hagfish have a high success rate.

The Hagfish has 4 Hearts and 2 Brains
The Hagfish has 4 Hearts and 2 Brains
Hagfish Eggs
Hagfish Eggs

Eating Hagfish: Korean Dish Made with Hagfish

Kkomjangeo bokkeum ( ), Korean stir-fried fish dish made with the hagfish Eptatretus burgeri
Kkomjangeo bokkeum ( ), Korean stir-fried fish dish made with the hagfish Eptatretus burgeri | Source

Hagfish Slime

Hagfish Sliming Video

(click column header to sort results)
Common Name  
Eptatretus bischoffii (Schneider, 1880)
Eptatretus burgeri (Girard, 1855)
Inshore hagfish
Eptatretus caribbeaus Fernholm, 1982
Eptatretus carlhubbsi (McMillan and Wisner, 1984)
Eptatretus chinensis Kuo and Mok, 1994
Eptatretus cirrhatus (Forster, 1801)
New Zealand hagfish
Eptatretus deani (Evermann & Goldsborough, 1907)
Black hagfish
Eptatretus eos Fernholm, 1991
Eptatretus fernholmi McMillan & Wisner, 2004
Eptatretus fritzi Wisner & McMillan, 1990
Guadalupe hagfish
Eptatretus goliath Mincarone & Stewart, 2006
Eptatretus grouseri McMillan, 1999
Eptatretus hexatrema (Müller, 1836)
Sixgill hagfish
Eptatretus indrambaryai Wongratana, 1983
Eptatretus lakeside Mincarone & McCosker, 2004
Eptatretus laurahubbsae McMillan and Wisner, 1984
Eptatretus longipinnis Strahan, 1975
Eptatretus lopheliae Fernholm & Quattrini, 2008
Eptatretus mcconnaugheyi Wisner & McMillan, 1990
Shorthead hagfish
Eptatretus mccoskeri McMillan, 1999
Eptatretus mendozai Hensley, 1985
Eptatretus menezesi Mincarone, 2000
Eptatretus minor Fernholm and Hubbs, 1981
Eptatretus multidens Fernholm and Hubbs, 1981
Eptatretus nanii Wisner and McMillan, 1988
Eptatretus octatrema (Barnard, 1923)
Eightgill hagfish
Eptatretus okinoseanus (Dean, 1904)
Eptatretus polytrema (Girard, 1855)
Fourteen-gill hagfish
Eptatretus profundus (Barnard, 1923)
Fivegill hagfish
Eptatretus sinus Wisner & McMillan, 1990
Cortez hagfish
Eptatretus springeri (Bigelow & Schroeder, 1952)
Gulf hagfish
Eptatretus stoutii (Lockington, 1878)
Pacific hagfish
Eptatretus strahani McMillan and Wisner, 1984
Eptatretus strickrotti Møller & Jones, 2007
Eptatretus wisneri McMillan, 1999
Myxine affinis Günther, 1870
Patagonian hagfish
Myxine australis Jenyns, 1842
Southern hagfish
Myxine capensis Regan, 1913
Cape hagfish
Myxine circifrons Garman, 1899
Whiteface hagfish
Myxine debueni Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine dorsum Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine fernholmi Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine formosana Mok & Kuo, 2001
Myxine garmani Jordan & Snyder, 1901
Myxine glutinosa Linnaeus, 1758
Atlantic hagfish
Myxine hubbsi Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine hubbsoides Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine ios Fernholm, 1981
White-headed hagfish
Myxine jespersenae Møller, Feld, Poulsen, Thomsen & Thormar, 2005
Myxine knappi Wisner & McMillan, 1995)
Myxine kuoi Mok, 2002
Myxine limosa Girard, 1859
Myxine mccoskeri Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine mcmillanae Hensley, 1991
Myxine paucidens Regan, 1913
Myxine pequenoi Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine robinsorum Wisner & McMillan, 1995
Myxine sotoi Mincarone, 2001
Nemamyxine elongata Richardson, 1958
Nemamyxine kreffti McMillan and Wisner, 1982
Neomyxine biniplicata (Richardson and Jowett, 1951)
Notomyxine tridentiger (Garman, 1899)
Paramyxine atami Dean, 1904
Paramyxine cheni Shen and Tao, 1975
Paramyxine fernholmi Kuo, Huang and Mok, 1994
Paramyxine moki McMillan & Wisner, 2004
Paramyxine sheni Kuo, Huang and Mok, 1994
Paramyxine walkeri McMillan & Wisner, 2004
Paramyxine wayuu Mok, Saavedra-Diaz & Acero P., 2001
Paramyxine wisneri Kuo, Huang and Mok, 1994
Quadratus ancon Mok, Saavedra-Diaz and Acero P., 2001
Quadratus nelsoni (Kuo, Huang and Mok, 1994)
Quadratus taiwanae (Shen and Tao, 1975)
Quadratus yangi (Teng, 1958)



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    • profile image

      camery 3 years ago

      That's gross

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Fascinating. Not hungry any more.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 7 years ago

      Very interesting! The world is full of strange creatures!

    • snakebaby profile image

      Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) 7 years ago from Boston, MA, USA

      Thanks, John, for the visit. I, too, just discovered hagfishes myself and did some research on this strange ocean creature

    • john.jackson profile image

      john.jackson 7 years ago from London, England

      Wow great hub. Never seen that fish before, amazing.