Please welcome our newest contributor, marine biologist in-training Jason Tschudy with a little insight on some marine eels.
Eels. Beautiful creatures that inspire fascination in many, fear in others, in many cases, a little of both. These mysterious creatures make for a great focal point in a display aquarium. There are quite a few species sold for the aquarium trade, but some are better suited for the aquarium than others.
Take the Snowflake Moray (Echidna nebulosa) for example. It is one of the most attractive and readily available eels in the hobby. These eels will eat crustaceans and small fish, and they can grow to about 36″ in length. The Snowflake Moray can generally be kept with other fish, things of moderate size like lionfish and angels won’t have a problem living with a Snowflake Moray.
The Black Edged Moray (Gymnothorax saxicola) is another smaller species that can be a good fit for many aquariums. It has diet and behavior similar to the Snowflake, and as with any eel it can get a bit aggressive when food is present. They can be kept in a reef tank, but may predate any crustaceans in the tank.
For those who like to go all out and have some extra cash lying around, the Dragon Moray (Enchelycore pardalis) is the eel for you. They are considered the “holy grail” of eels by many aquarium enthusiasts. They are extremely attractive, but pretty rare to the hobby. These eels eat fish, but will happily eat shrimp, clam, and other foods in the aquarium too. They grow to about 36 inches, so they’ll need a large tank, a nice cave to hide in, and a clean, well-maintained tank.
Generally a 75 gallon tank is big enough for the smaller species, but a larger tank is always recommended. Most of the common eels found for the aquarium will grow between two and four feet long, though there are some, like the Green Moray (up to 8 ft) that can reach several feet. Larger species should only be housed in the largest of tanks, and it is important to know as much as you can about the species you’re considering – how big a species can get, how much space it needs, dietary needs, and to be prepared before considering an eel for the home aquarium.