aquarium Eels

Aquarium Eels Care Guide: My Top Tips & Tricks

Did you know that there are over 800 species of freshwater eels? These fascinating creatures, also known as aquarium eels, can make captivating additions to your home aquarium. However, caring for eels requires specialized knowledge and attention to detail. In this guide, I will share my top tips and tricks to help you navigate the world of aquarium eels successfully.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hobbyist, it’s important to understand the different types of eels suitable for aquariums and how to care for them properly. From choosing the right eel species to creating a suitable habitat, feeding, and ensuring compatibility in your tank, I will cover all the essential aspects of eel care.

Moray Eels – Family Muraenidae

Moray Eels, belonging to the Muraenidae family, are often seen as aggressive and dangerous, but not all species fit this description. Pebble-toothed eels, such as Snowflake, Zebra, and Chain Moray Eels, are considered reef-safe and make great additions to home aquariums. These eels primarily feed on crustaceans and pose a lower risk of injuring other tank inhabitants. On the other hand, fang-toothed eels, including Dragon Eels and Golden Moray Eels, are more challenging to keep due to their aggressive behavior, large size, and specialized diet. It is recommended to leave fang-toothed eels to experienced aquarists or leave them in their natural habitat.

Moray Eel with mouth open smiling - popular aquarium eels
Eel SpeciesDescriptionAggressionSizeDiet
Snowflake Moray EelDistinctive white speckled patternLow aggressionUp to 2 feetCrustaceans, small fish
Zebra Moray EelBlack and white striped bodyLow aggressionUp to 3 feetCrustaceans, small fish
Chain Moray EelChain-like pattern on bodyLow aggressionUp to 2.5 feetCrustaceans, small fish
Dragon EelDistinctive dragon-like appearanceHigh aggressionUp to 4 feetLarge fish, cephalopods
Golden Moray EelBright golden-yellow colorationHigh aggressionUp to 4.5 feetLarge fish, cephalopods

While pebble-toothed eels are more suitable for home aquariums due to their milder temperament and diet, fang-toothed eels require experienced care and specialized conditions. It’s essential to consider the aggression, size, and diet of different eel species when selecting suitable inhabitants for your aquarium.

Habitat Requirements for Aquarium Eels

When caring for eels in an aquarium, it is essential to create a habitat that meets their specific needs. Eels are notorious escape artists, so providing a secure aquarium is crucial to prevent any Houdini-like antics. Additionally, understanding their natural behavior and providing suitable burrowing spots can contribute to their overall well-being. Let’s dive into the key aspects of creating an ideal eel habitat.

Tank Size

Eels come in different sizes, and the tank needs differ based on the species. Moray Eels, recognized for their larger size, can reach up to 12 feet in length, while pebble-toothed eels usually grow to around 30 inches. To support their growth and allow sufficient swimming room, it is suggested to have a minimum tank size of 75 gallons for adult eels. Offering a spacious tank ensures that eels can freely move around and display their natural behaviors without feeling confined.

Secure Aquarium

Eels have a remarkable knack for escaping from their tanks. To prevent any great escape attempts, it is essential to have a secure aquarium setup. This includes ensuring the tank has a tight-fitting lid or cover to prevent eels from jumping out. Additionally, regularly inspecting the tank for any gaps or loose fittings can ensure that eels are kept safely contained within their aquatic habitat.

Natural Behavior: Burrowing

Eels are notorious for their burrowing behavior, and providing suitable spots for them to burrow is crucial. This not only fulfills their natural instincts but also helps them feel secure and comfortable in their environment. Aquascape materials such as aquarium rocks and PVC pipes can create hiding spots and safe burrows for eels. These materials should be arranged in a way that mimics their natural habitat, allowing eels to find refuge whenever they desire.

eel habitat

Aquascape Considerations

Designing the aquascape in an eel aquarium requires careful consideration of their needs and preferences. As eels may move and rearrange items in the tank, it is important to choose sturdy materials that won’t easily collapse or harm the eel. Rocks, PVC pipes, and other suitable structures can serve as hiding spots, resting areas, and burrows. By creating a natural and engaging aquascape, eels can flourish and exhibit their fascinating behavior.

Tank SizeSecure AquariumNatural Behavior: BurrowingAquascape Considerations
A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for adult eels.The tank should have a secure lid or cover to prevent eels from escaping.Aquascape materials like aquarium rocks and PVC pipes can create hiding spots and burrows for eels.Choose sturdy materials that can withstand eel movements and create a natural and engaging environment.

Creating an ideal living space for your eels involves ensuring a secure aquarium, appropriate tank size, and a thoughtfully arranged aquascape. By offering a comfortable and stimulating environment, you can enable these captivating creatures to flourish and exhibit their inherent behaviors, thereby bringing delight and amazement to your household aquarium.

Feeding Eels

Eels are carnivorous creatures that rely on a diet consisting of meaty foods to meet their nutritional needs. Feeding eels can be an interesting and rewarding aspect of their care. Whether you have juvenile eels or adult specimens, understanding their dietary requirements and implementing proper feeding techniques is crucial for their health and wellbeing.

Live Foods vs. Prepared Foods

When it comes to feeding eels, there is a choice between live foods and prepared foods. Live foods, such as feeder fish, shrimp, and worms, mimic the eels’ natural prey and can be highly stimulating for them. However, some eels may become overly reliant on live foods, which can be challenging to sustain in the long term and may introduce parasites or diseases into the eel tank.

Prepared foods, on the other hand, offer convenience and a more controlled feeding approach. Commercially available frozen or freeze-dried foods specifically formulated for carnivorous fish, such as squid, shrimp, and krill, can serve as excellent alternatives to live foods. These prepared foods are nutritionally balanced, easy to store, and minimize the risk of introducing harmful pathogens to your eel tank.

Feeding Techniques for Eels

Due to their poor eyesight, it’s crucial to use feeding techniques that minimize the risk of accidental bites during mealtime with eels. Using a feeding stick or tongs can help prevent your fingers from being mistaken as food. Simply attach the food to the end of the feeding stick or tongs and gently place it near the eel’s mouth.

It’s important to note that juvenile eels may initially show a preference for live foods. If you wish to transition them to prepared or dead foods, you can gradually introduce these alternatives alongside their live food offerings. Over time, they will become accustomed to the new food sources and accept them as part of their diet.

Suitable Foods for Eels

Eels have a diverse diet in the wild, consuming a range of prey items such as squid, shrimp, crabs, octopus, krill, and small fish. A varied diet is essential to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients for optimal health and growth. Providing a mix of different meaty foods, both live and prepared, can help replicate their natural feeding habits and promote their overall wellbeing.

Live FoodsPrepared Foods
Feeder fishSquid
ShrimpShrimp
WormsCrabs
Octopus
Krill
Small fish

By offering a combination of live and prepared foods, you can ensure that your eels receive a balanced and nutritious diet that meets their carnivorous nature.

Special Care for Eels

When it comes to caring for eels in your aquarium, there are some specific considerations you need to keep in mind to ensure their well-being. Let’s explore the special care requirements for these fascinating creatures.

Eels’ Mucus Coating

Eels have a protective mucus coating that helps them fend off parasites and infection. While this coating is beneficial, it also makes eels sensitive to medications. It’s important to note that using medications can harm eels, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Instead, focus on providing a clean and healthy living environment to support their natural defenses.

Maintaining Water Quality

Excellent water quality is crucial for the overall health of your eels. Poor water quality can lead to stress, weakened immune systems, and increased susceptibility to infections. Regularly test the water parameters and ensure they are within the appropriate range for eels. Regular water changes and proper filtration can help maintain optimal water conditions.

Compatibility and Tank Setup

If you plan to keep multiple eels in your aquarium, it’s essential to provide a large tank with ample hiding spots and multiple burrow locations. Eels can be territorial, and having enough space and hiding spots can help prevent conflicts. Additionally, consider the compatibility of eels with other tank inhabitants. Some species may not get along well with certain fish or invertebrates, so research and choose tankmates carefully to ensure a harmonious aquatic community.

eel care
Special Care Considerations for Eels
Mucus Coating SensitivityAvoid medications that can harm eels
Water QualityMaintain excellent water quality to prevent infections
CompatibilityProvide a large tank with multiple burrow locations to prevent territorial conflicts

Keeping these special care requirements in mind will help you create a thriving and healthy environment for your eels. By providing the right conditions, you can ensure their well-being and enjoy their unique presence in your aquarium.

Wrapping Up Eels in Aquariums

Caring for aquarium eels can be a unique and rewarding experience. Understanding the different eel species and their compatibility with other tank inhabitants is essential. By providing a suitable tank setup with secure housing and proper habitat conditions, you can ensure the well-being of your eels.

Feeding eels a varied diet of meaty foods is crucial for their health. Make sure to offer them a diverse range of options, such as squid, shrimp, crabs, and other suitable foods. Additionally, maintaining excellent water quality is important to prevent infections and promote optimal health.

By following this eel care guide, you can create an optimal environment for your aquarium eels and enjoy their fascinating presence in your home aquarium. Remember to pay close attention to their specific needs, and you’ll be rewarded with thriving and happy eels.