How to Keep Your Electric Eel

Aqualand info on Electrophorus electricus 

 
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Electric Eel Factoids

Origin

Amazon River basin

Sexual Differences

None real visible

Temperature

75o to 85o

Attitude

Hungry

Maximum Size Six to eight feet

Biggest Threat

Uncovered tank

Schedule

Eats day and night.  Determined hunter.

Security

Not needed

Foods

Not picky

Water

Not demanding – just clean

Breeding Comments

Not much known

LA
Beauty, eh?  Except for the beady eyes, nose holes, and zit pits, electric eels look downright snazzy.

Origins:  Lots of oddballs come from the Amazon River and its tributaries.  Add the electric “eel” to your list.  No one breeds these commercially or accidentally for that matter.  Very few people keep them (or should).  We saw our first electric eel in Davenport, Iowa four decades ago at a fish club party.  The six-footer was kept in a shallow pool aerated and filtered with a wall-sized waterfall.  Very impressive.

LA
This electric eel's first three inches are his body (head and well filled guts)-- the rest is tail.

LA
His anus is right under where his gill covers come together.  We saw it work.

LA
Not many people can say they've seen electric eel feces.  Or at least they don't talk about it.

Eel Name?  Alright, for several reasons, electric eels are not really eels.  But what else you gonna call ‘em?  Ugly brown, long-tailed, snaky-looking fish that you can’t hold onto cause they’re slimy and shocky?  Let’s just stick with “electric eel” as the entire world calls them.

LA
Most people are struck by the natural beauty of electric eels.

Appeal:  You can’t help but love a fish that will knock you on your butt.  No one wants to pet one, but they sure want to see one.

LA
Sparky tips the scales at 16 inches.

 

Size:  Electric eels usually hit the market at 16 to 24 inches.  They grow much longer – six to eight feet.  Yours will not grow that large unless you have a waterfall and pool in your basement.  These guys would make a great attraction in a mall pond.  No one would be snagging out the quarters kids toss in.

LA
Electric eels love nightcrawlers, lotsa nightcrawlers.

LA
Goldfish, live or dead, are also eagerly eaten.

LA
Lunch is served.

LA
Down the hatch of our electric eel.

LA
Let's try it again.

LA
We hand feed Sparky.

LA
He wants it at a specific angle.

LA
Then it's down the hatch again.

 

Foods:  Electric eels love to stuff their guts.  “Gluttonous, determined hunters” describes them best.  Supposedly, electric eels use their voltage to locate fish in murky water then slurp up their unsuspecting victims.  Perhaps they do this at night.  However, during the day they avidly circle all areas of their tank as long as they’re not already stuffed to the gills.

LA
Electric eels need plenty of room to allow for expansion.

Housing:  Start with a 55, and then add on to your house as your checkbook permits.  Electric eels are not a good “starter fish.” 

LA
Any eel-like fish that breathes air is looking for an exit.

Keep Covered:  Electric eels breathe air.  They come to the top often -- every couple minutes when actively seeking lunch.  Screen or glass covers work at first.  You will need a stouter cover later – with a heavy rock on it.

LA
Except for maybe the pleco, no tank mate is safe with an electric eel.

LA
Not a happy smile on the bullhead's face.  We'll see how long he lasts.  He's pretty good size.

LA
Group photo of the electric eel and the bullhead in preceding photo.

LA
Electric eels even make snails climb out of the water.

Tank Mates:  Electric eels make most tank mates uncomfortable – even the burrowing Malaysian snails crawl out of the gravel and out of the water.  Oddly enough, our current (get it?) electric eel gets along fine with a five-inch pleco.  The eel rubs against him repeatedly with no adverse reactions.

 

Temperature:  Their Amazon River origin means they need 75o or better.  Big bruisers probably need some apparatus to protect your heater.  One of our electric eels broke his heater and electrocuted himself.  Ironic.

LA
At 83o this electric eel still caught ich.  Half-strength ich cure to the rescue.

Disease:  Oddly enough our current electric eel caught ich (at 83o).

LA
This electric eel knocks these potted plants around on a regular basis..

Décor:  As these bruisers cruise their quarters, they knock stuff around.  Weighted plastic plants work okay.  He will redo the aquascaping as he sees fit.

Water:  Put away your chemistry set.  Electric eels adapt to nearly any clean water.  Since they eat like pigs, you will need to make large water changes on a weekly basis.

Breeding:  Won’t happen. 

LA
Smile.  You're on Candid Camera.

LA
Just another pretty face.

Disadvantages:  Electric eels pester or kill other fishes.  Illegal in many states.  Kinda ugly.  Hard to hand feed.  Hard to breed.  They need a huge tank.

LA
Still an intriguing fish -- the so-called electric eel.

LA
"Let's see what this guy feels like."

LA
That's maybe close enough.

Last Word:  You gotta love these snaky-looking guys.  But you don’t gotta own one.  Most people should not own an electric eel.  But they’re cool.  LA.

© 2004, © 2005, © 2006, © 2008, © 2011, © 2012  LA Productions

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