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Fire Eel

(Mastacembelus erythrotaenia)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 24"
• Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons   • Water Conditions: 75-82° F, KH 10-15, pH 6.8-7.2
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Southeast Asia   • Family: Mastacembelidae
• Species: Eels   • Aquarium Type: Large-Bottom-Dweller

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Species Information

Fire Eel native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Fire Eel is a larger freshwater eel species that originates from warm flood plains and streams of southeast Asia including: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos. Throughout their evolution, Fire Eels have developed very long laterally compressed bodies that have enabled them to better survive in their native habitat. Fire Eels are often found in streams with lots of vegetation and deep sediment filled riverbeds. The long slender snout and elongated body that particularly the rear third of which flattens into a broad caudal fin. Their shape allows them to easily bury themselves in the substrate and maneuver amongst thick vegetation while searching for food items.

While Fire Eels spend much of their time on and buried in the substrate, they will swim at any water level if they detect food. In fact Fire Eels are often sought after by aquarium enthusiasts as they are easily trained to hand feed and will actively interact with the aquarium keeper once they have settled into the aquarium environment. The Fire Eel is actually a large freshwater fish and not a true eel, its name is a common name that references the fishes body shape and overall appearance.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Fire Eel in the home aquarium.

Fire Eels should be housed in larger aquariums that are capable of comfortably supporting their adult size of approximately 2 feet in length. This species can be kept in smaller aquariums as a juvenile and moved to larger enclosures as they grow and mature. It is best to keep this species in an aquarium with a fine sandy substrate, as the Fire Eel prefers to burrow into the substrate. Fire Eels will also prone to scratches and abrasions on their underside with course or rough substrate, which can cause infections and threaten the overall health of the fish.

The aquarium should also contain plants or driftwood in order to provide the Fire Eel with places to seek shelter and provide them with a comfortable habitat. Fire Eels are not overly aggressive, but they should be kept with similarly sized semi-aggressive fish species as they will consume smaller fish species that will fit into their mouths. Lastly, it is very important for an aquarium housing a Fire Eel to have a fully covered and secured top as the Fire Eel is very prone to escaping from an uncovered aquarium.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Fire Eel and provide a healthy diet.

In the wild the Fire Eel consumes mostly insect larvae, insects, worms, small fish and some plant material. In the aquarium it is best to feed them bloodworms, tubifex worms and chopped fish or mussel as a juvenile. Adult specimens will need larger meaty food consisting of large worms, tablet foods, krill and other large fresh, freeze-dried or frozen meaty preparations.

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