How to Keep Your Electric Eel
Aqualand info on Electrophorus electricus
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Origins: Lots of
oddballs come from the
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.
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.
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.
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.
Housing: Start with a 55, and then add on to your house as your checkbook permits. Electric eels are not a good “starter fish.”
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.
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.
Disease: Oddly enough our current electric eel caught ich (at 83o).
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.
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.
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.
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