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Fire eel -- neither small nor cheap. This guy's 30-inches long in a well-covered 55.
Small Spiny Eel Appeal. Each type of spiny eel appeals in its own way. Smaller eels – especially the peacocks with their “eyed” tails -- appeal to community tank owners. They burrow below the gravel with their flexible noses sticking out to sense food. The smaller spinies also cost less than the big lunkers – another plus for many people.
Large Spiny Eel Appeal. Lots of people love larger fishes – the bigger the better. Both the tire track eel and the fire eel present a striking picture – even before they attain anywhere near their full size.
Hiders. Small spiny eels usually dig into the gravel to hide. The larger guys need caves or ledges to lurk under. They just don’t feel comfortable in bare tanks. We’ve seen PVC tube condos in wholesaler tanks with one eel sticking out of each tube. In bare tanks, they just bunch up together. Lean a piece of slate against your front glass for an instant cave.
Gravel. Avoid large or sharp-edged gravels. They will slice into your eel’s skin. They dig in the gravel searching for worms and security. Providing several hiding caves will help alleviate the scratchy-gravel problem.
Size. See the chart for sizes. You will never see a full-grown tire track or fire eel for sale. We saw a 30-inch fire eel in Peoria (Pic at top), but they told us it was definitely not for sale.
Space. Peacock spiny eels and zig-zag spiny eels live happily in 10 or 20-gallon aquaria. The two big guys need a 30 or better.
Keep Covered. All eels and eel-shaped fishes jump out every time they can. Keep yours very well covered.
Water. Our “moderately hard” pH 7.5 Des Moines water works fine for spiny eels. Avoid making sudden chemical changes to your water.
Foods. See the chart. Add snails to clean up any excess food that falls to the bottom.
Diggers. Since these spiny
eels burrow thru your gravel like the “Grabboids” in the movie Tremors,
don’t bother decorating with expensive plants.
They plow them up – not intentionally, just incidentally.
Disease. Spiny eels have no scales, so they appear more susceptible to “fungus” diseases. Beware of most fungus and parasite cures. Because of their delicate skin, you’ll want to net your spiny eels in very soft nets.
Breeding. You will not breed your spiny eels. If you had access to the breeding extract made from carp pituitary glands and some large, mud-bottomed ponds, your chances would increase considerably.
Foods. If you feed your spiny eels flake foods, they will last about three weeks before they starve to death. Start yours on live black worms – their natural food. Well, they never met a California black worm until they arrived in the U.S., but you get the picture. Then add frozen tubifex worms, frozen blood worms, and/or frozen brine shrimp. If you can find mosquito larvae or glassworms, you will have happy eels. The bigger eels graduate to earthworms and then nightcrawlers and fish.
Predators. No doubt about it, the tire track spiny eels are definite predators. A foot-long tire track (but not the fire eel) will eat the fish in your community tank. They start with neons and eat your swordtails last. Gouramis need not fear them.
Comments. You need clean
water to keep spiny eels. If
you have murky water with crud on the bottom, pick a different fish.
Also, vacuum your gravel, change part of the water, and add a power
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