Eels not your regular fishmate

Almost everyone knows what an eel looks like but not everyone wants one as a pet. But for those who are not squeamish about these snake-like fishes, they can make for hardy and interesting aquarium subjects.

Pictured is the Blue Ribbon eel

Pictured is the Blue Ribbon eel – Rhinomuraena quaesita species

Found throughout the world, Eels mainly live among coral reefs and rocky outcroppings in caves and small crevices. Most have sharp teeth and strong jaws which they use to hunt for fishes and crustaceans. They usually grow to a length of 2 to 3 feet but some of the larger Moray eels will grow to 10 feet and over!

Eels require large aquariums with efficient filtration systems to deal with the copious amounts of food consumed and waste produced. They also need a very secure cover to prevent their escape for they are able to squeeze through even tiny openings.

The tank should be decorated with a lot of rockwork and hiding places for the eel to retreat to. If you plan to use a substrate, it should be fine calcareous sand, since the eel often travels along the bottom and may injure itself on the typical crushed coral substrate. Keep only one per tank.

Most Eels will accept all kinds of meaty foods such as fish, shrimp, squid, clams, etc., although some species are specialized carnivores and will only accept certain types of food. When feeding it is best to attach the food to the end of a long stick or tube and offer it to the eel.

Caution is advised whenever you put your hands in the aquarium – Eels can deliver a nasty bite! It is best to keep them singly or just one species per tank; their tankmates should not include smaller slow moving fishes as these could wind up as dinner.

It is difficult to differentiate between male and female Eels and efforts to breed them in captivity have been unsuccessful. The fry go through a very complex larval stage that makes them very hard to feed and care for.

TankConditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12

Compatibility: Grunts and sweetlips, lions, scorpions, puffers, tangs and surgeons, live coral, live rock, sand.

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