Which freshwater eel aquarium is suitable for home. Selection and care guide

Freshwater aquarium eels are a unique choice for a pet fish owner. Whether you’re looking for a tiny or giant fish, the possibilities are unlimited.

These, like other fish, come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. You can discover the ideal freshwater eel for your aquarium. Eels, like any other fish, require special attention to stay happy and healthy.

Here’s a quick primer on freshwater eels, including how to care for and feed them.

9 interesting freshwater eel aquarium

Freshwater aquarium eels that may be kept as pets are actually lookalike fish that behave similarly to the real thing. Even if your local fish store claims otherwise, true eel species will ultimately need to relocate to saltwater.

The species listed below are the only ones that can survive their whole lives in salt-free water. Let’s take a look at the most frequent and popular varieties of eels, as well as how to care for them:

 1. Peacock Eel

Aquarium size10 gallons for juveniles and 35-55 for adults
Water temperature78 to 82 °F (26 to 28 °C)
Recommended pH6.5 to 7.2
Fish size22″ (55 cm)

The peacock eel is another lovely alternative for freshwater aquarium eels. This eel has distinctive patterns that mimic the feathers of a peacock. These sorts of specks are generally three to six in number.

The Peacock Eel is a tiny eel that may be kept in aquariums. They only grow to be around a foot long, so you won’t need a large tank. A 36-inch-long tank with a 35-gallon capacity is an excellent place to start.

Because they get along nicely with their fish neighbors, these peacock eel make excellent pets. They also eat really well, so it’s an excellent alternative for first-timers since they’re not choosy.

It’s important to know that Peacock Eel are excellent escape artists. It’s critical to make sure you have a tight cover on top of them. You don’t want your eel to get away from you!

2. African Lungfish

Aquarium size55 gallons for juveniles, 75 gallons for adults
Water temperature75 to 86 °F (24 to 30 °C)
Recommended pH6 to 8.5
Fish size32″+ (81 cm)

The West African Lungfish is the most commonly observed species (Protopterus annectens). The Marbled Lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus), Gilled Lungfish (Protopterus amphibius), and Slender Lungfish (Protopterus slenderus) are three near cousins that are infrequently accessible (Protopterus dolloi).

Typically, the West African Lungfish is offered as a 6-8 inch juvenile with a leaf-like tail and thread-like pectoral and anal fins. Adult lungfish can spend hours without moving, blinking, or even breathing, as they are slow-moving fish.

When they’re young, their gills are their primary source of oxygen; as they become older, they need more on their lungs. Freshwater Eels are predators with massive jaws that act as a vacuum to inhale even fast-moving prey.

African Lungfish, as adults, may and should be fed every few days instead of every day. They may go without food for up to 3 12 years. When water levels in the wild fall during droughts, animals burrow into the dirt and hibernate until the rains come again.

3. Zig Zag Eel (Tire track eels)

Aquarium size55 gallons for juveniles, 180 gallons for adults
Water temperature73 to 82 °F (23 to 28 °C)
Recommended pH6.5 to 8
Fish size40″ (100 cm)

The zig zag eel may reach a length of 36 inches or 90 cm in the wild, although this is unusual. They normally reach a maximum size of 24 inches (60 cm) in captivity.

They do, however, need a very large tank in either case. Each zig-zag eel demands a minimum of 150 gallon tank, therefore you’ll need a lot of room in your house.

Remember that these things may last up to 20 years, so it’s a significant investment. You may keep zig zag eels alongside smaller fish, but they will consume anything tiny enough to eat.

These predators are exceedingly active and carnivorous, and they prefer to hunt at night. Zig zag eel should have a substrate of very fine gravel or sand since they prefer to dig in it.

Because the zig zag eel is territorial and aggressive, it should not be kept with other bottom dwellers. You should also give them with plenty of plants, rocks, caves, and items like PVC pipes for hiding locations and privacy, as well as anything else that will help them establish a territory.

A powerful filter with a lot of water movement, as well as anything to assist oxygenate the water, are both highly suggested.

4. Half-Banded Spiny Eel

Aquarium size10 gallons for juveniles, 35-55 for adults
Water temperature73 to 82 °F (23 to 28 °C)
Recommended pH6.8 to 7.5
Fish size8″ (20 cm)

Unlike zig zag eel the Half-banded Spiny Eel is a great choice if you’re searching for a smaller eel. When it comes to purchasing a tank, this eel is ideal for those searching for a space-saving choice.

The half-banded spiny eel barely reaches a maximum length of eight inches! As a result, you can easily house them in a 10-gallon tank without having to worry about them being cramped.

Because this is a nocturnal species, you might not see it during the day. It also loves to burrow in sand and other substrates, thus that must be factored into the habitat.

The half-banded spiny eel is a friendly species. Spiny eels get along swimmingly with larger fish. Place them with fish that are two inches or smaller than that, since they may mistake them for food.

5. Electric Eel

Aquarium size100 gallons for juveniles, 540 for adults
Water temperature73 to 82 °F (~23 to ~28 °C)
Recommended pH5.5 to 6.5
Fish size95″+ (240+ cm)

Electric Eel unlike spiny eels are known all around the world for their high-voltage, low-amperage shocks. They store electricity in specific muscles along their body, similar to how a row of batteries powers a torch. While shock is seldom lethal, it is excruciatingly painful and can temporarily paralyze people.

Electric Eel can not only generate but also sense electrical pulses. Electrical pulses are produced by all living species, including humans, through muscle and nerve action. The Electric Eel whole body is lined with tiny pores called electroreceptors (sharks and rays also have electroreceptors).

These electroreceptors enable the Eel navigate blindly through the murky waters of the Amazonian shallows by detecting changes in its own electric field. An mature Electric Eel is unaffected by deadly predators such as Caimans and Piranhas.

You should pay close attention to their idiosyncrasies in the aquarium, not simply their potential to shock you with electricity. Freshwater Eels, which take noisy gulps every 10 minutes or so, obtain 80 percent of their oxygen from the air. This necessitates efficient air movement and a small gap between the hood and the water surface.

Electric Eels will devour everything that moves, even tiny animals and amphibians, if it fits in their jaws. Electric Eel electrical discharge necessitates the use of a single species tank; even fish that are too big to consume can be killed by a discharge since they are exceedingly territorial.

Unlike the other Freshwater Eels on our list, they are too huge and sluggish to try to leave their tanks!

6. Black Spotted Eel

Aquarium size55 gallons
Water temperature72 to 82 °F (23 to 28 °C)
Recommended pH6 to 7
Fish size20″ (51 cm)

The Black Spotted Eel is first on the list. The Black Spotted Eel is a fantastic starting freshwater eel since it’s really easy going. These eels may reach a length of 20 inches and live for a long time.

They may live for 8 to 18 years, and with proper care and nutrition, they can live much longer. The Black Spotted Eel gets its name from the black markings on its body. Horizontal lines may be observed all around the eel. Smaller eels have fewer spots than larger eels, but they are larger in size.

The Black Spotted Eel is a sociable species, yet they can be shy at times. In your tank, especially when you initially obtain it, you should add locations for it to retreat and hide. Even though they’re shy, they’re an excellent complement to any tank.

7. Fire Eel

Aquarium size55 gallons for juveniles, 180 for adults
Water temperature73 to 82 °F (23 to 28 °C)
Recommended pH6.5 to 8
Fish size40″ (100 cm)

One of the bigger eels that may be kept at home is the fire eel. These creatures may reach a length of 40 inches (100 cm), so they are quite large. A fish tank of at least 180 gallons is required for a fully grown adult fire eel, as they require a lot of space.

Fire eels don’t grown as big in an aquarium as they do in the wild, but they still get big. This is a good community tank fish since it will overlook most fish that aren’t seen as food sources. That said, it will devour anything small enough to fit in its mouth.

It’s not a good idea to keep these creatures in the same room with other bottom feeders. These eels prefer to burrow on fine gravel substrate, so make sure you have at least 2.5 inches of it.

Furthermore, especially when maintained with other fire eels, they may be both shy and territorial, thus plenty of living plants, hiding places, rocks, caves, and other similar objects are encouraged. Because these creatures have a tendency for uprooting plants, it’s best to use floating plants.

The fire eels are unique in that they recognize their owners and may be fed by hand. The water temperature must be between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, the pH must be between 6.5 and 8, and the water hardness must be between 5 and 15 dGH.

For the fire eel, a good filtration system is highly recommended.

8. Reedfish 

Aquarium size30 gallons for juveniles, 55 for adults
Water temperature73 to 82 °F (23 to 28 °C)
Recommended pH6 to 7.5
Fish size18″ (45 cm)

The reedfish, commonly known as the ropefish, is a huge yet peaceful eel-like fish. They’re curious and sociable, but they won’t annoy your other fish.

Reedfish may be kept in both freshwater and brackish aquariums with no problems. As a result, I’ve included them in my list of the greatest and most intriguing brackish water fish to maintain at home.

They have a lot of flexibility and don’t need to spread out completely inside the tank. When they’re in a group, though, they’re more active and require more swimming area. Even yet, because they are eel-mannered, a hiding spot should be supplied on sometimes.

They do, in fact, embark on a nighttime search for prey. Your reedfish’s tankmates should not, under any circumstances, fit in its mouth. Another aspect of companions to consider is that they should not be hostile. A reedfish is a peaceful fish that may be intimidated by more aggressive fish.

It’s best not to keep it around plecos since they’ll upset its slime covering, which can be fatal. Live food, such as small feeder fish, earthworms, bloodworms, and insect larvae, should be fed to your ropefish. Despite possessing gills, this “eel” breaths atmospheric air.

They live in swamp-like stagnant or slow-moving water in the wild. As a result, they developed lung-like organs. It is fairly uncommon for them to swim to the surface in order to get a breath of fresh air.

 9. Pink Paddletail Eel

Aquarium size30 gallons
Water temperature72 to 82 °F (23 to 28 °C)
Recommended pH6.5 to 7.5
Fish size18″ (45 cm)

The Pink Paddletail eel is the way to go if you appreciate unique and hard-to-find creatures. This eel is one of the most uncommon aquarium eels available. It’s a fantastic pet to invest in!

The Purple Spaghetti Eel is another name for the Pink Paddletail Eel. This is because the eel’s skin has a lovely pink reddish colour to it. It’s also long and slender, like a spaghetti strand.

This eel is elusive because, although living in a little space in your tank, it prefers to hide!

In their tank, these eels require a lot of fine sand as a substrate. They spend much of the day concealed in this sand and very seldom come out.

Although the Pink Paddletail eel is an excellent hider, it is very lovely when you do catch a sight of it. They’re an excellent choice for aquarists who enjoy all things unusual.

Compatibility And Tankmates

With a few noteworthy exceptions, freshwater aquarium eels are typically placid animals whether housed in a species-only tank or a community aquarium with huge fish species that the eels will not consider food.

Eels, on the other hand, are carnivorous predators that should not be housed alongside tiny fish, crabs, amphibians, or mollusks that will almost certainly be eaten.

Because eels prefer the bottom and bottom-middle of the water column, many species that prefer the top of the water, the top of the column, may be compatible.

When housed with freshwater aquarium eels, even fish that favor the upper layers of the water must be able to survive for themselves.

Freshwater eel require a fish that is huge, robust, aggressive, and swift. Freshwater eels get along well with the following tank mates:

  • Lionfish.
  • Tangs.
  • Triggerfish.
  • Wrasses.
  • Other large and aggressive fish.

If your eel isn’t very huge or aggressive, other fish that aren’t hostile can be the perfect tank mates.

Tank Requirements

Freshwater aquarium eels are quite simple to care for as long as they are given the proper living circumstances.

Tank Dimensions

Aquarium eels come in a variety of sizes, but none should be kept in a tank less than 35 gallons.

Allow 10 gallons of water per one 15-inch eel as a general rule of thumb. To be comfortable, a bigger species of approximately 25 inches will require a minimum of 20 gallons of water.

Some eels are excellent jumpers, and nearly all of them are excellent escape artists, squeezing through even the slightest opening in the tank lid. Swamp eels, for example, can jump and breathe air, allowing them to cover great distances on land in the wild.

As a result, they have no fear of your living room carpet.

Tank Setup

Your eels will thrive in a tank that is as near to their native environment as possible, just like any other fish species. Aquarium eels, for example, may be found all over the world in a variety of settings, including temperate and tropical regions.

Again, before purchasing an aquarium eel, thoroughly investigate its ecosystem and recreate it in your tank.


The type of substrate that best suits your eel will be determined by its origin. You should utilize a soft, sandy ground or peat if you pick a burrowing species. Because most eels have no scales or only a few tiny scales to protect their body, a soft ground is essential.


Eels are bottom dwellers, and most animals prefer having a safe haven. As a result, caverns, rocks, overhangs, twisted roots, and driftwood should all be included in your setting. You may also add a piece of plastic or terracotta pipe for the eels to hide in.

Again, thick, heavy planting is the way to go to mimic the eels’ native well-vegetated habitat. You should utilize species like Java fern, American Eelgrass, and Elodea, as well as some floating plants to assist soften the brightness in the aquarium.

Eels need lots of room to swim during periods of activity, so don’t overcrowd the tank.

Getting the Aquarium Ready

Begin by gathering all of the items you’ll need for your eel aquarium:

  • Substrate: soft, sandy
  • Unit of illumination
  • System of filtration
  • Heater
  • Thermometer for aquariums
  • Plastic or clay pipe, rocks, twisted roots, driftwood, resin caverns
  • Plants

How to set up your tank:

1. To clean rid of dust and loose debris, run the aquarium substrate under running water.Put the substrate in your aquarium to a depth of at least 3 inches, or more if your eel is a burrower, after the water is clear.

2. Install your filtration unit and heater in the tank, but don’t turn them on just yet.

3. Fill your tank with tap water that has not been conditioned. Do not add conditioner to tap water since it includes ammonia, which the bacteria in the biological filter medium need to start the nitrogen cycle before introducing your fish.

4. To avoid disturbing the substrate, place an overturned bowl on it and pour the water over it. Remove any dust from your tank decorations before placing them in your aquarium.

5. Remove any broken leaves or stems from your live plants before planting them in your aquarium. Allow adequate space between the plants for them to flourish and spread out.

6. Before introducing your eels, turn on your heater and filter and let the aquarium cycle for at least ten days. I recommend testing the tank water before introducing your livestock to ensure that the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates are below safe limits.

How Much And How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?

Freshwater aquarium eels only need to be fed twice a week, and some varieties may refuse to eat as frequently as that. Don’t be concerned if your eels only eat once every two or three weeks.

It’s definitely worth investing in an automatic fish feeder with a timer if you’re not at home or up and about at the best feeding times for your eels. Simply fill the feeder’s hopper with a little amount of food and set the timer for the food to be delivered at a specific time.

Freshwater eels have a lengthy life expectancy.

This, too, is dependent on the eel species.

Freshwater eels, on average, do not live more than 15 years. A few species, however, can live to be 18 or 20 years old, and others can survive for as little as 8 or 10 years.

Do Freshwater Eels Bite Humans?

Freshwater eels are naturally wary of humans, especially when they are initially brought home.

However, most will get accustomed to you after a few months, and some may even be fed by hand if they remember their owners. However, there are certain more aggressive eels that can and will bite people.

The bigger eels aren’t the kind of eels you want to put your hand in the aquarium and pet.

The majority of them have enormous, strong jaws with sharp teeth, and several of them may injure your fingers severely.

The electric eel is the most deadly, for obvious reasons, and it is strongly discouraged for anybody to have one at home.

What is the maximum size of a freshwater eel?

This is a very broad question with a not-so-generic response, and this is due to the fact that there are several freshwater eel species.

Tire track eels can grow to be 30 inches long, Zig Zag eels to be 35 inches long, Black Spotted eels to be 20 inches long, Electric eels to be 5 feet long, Peacock eels to be 36 inches long, and half banded spiny eels to be only a few inches long.

Temperature/Intensity of Activity

Eels are mostly nocturnal and live in the aquarium’s bottom levels. Tire Track, Zig-Zag, and Fire eels, for example, spend a lot of time submerged beneath the substrate with their heads peeping out or lurking among the plants.

Many freshwater aquarium eels learn to identify their owners, understand when it’s feeding time, and even come out to wait for food. Eels have even been known to steal food from their owners’ hands!

Some species can breathe air and will go to the water’s surface to do so on a regular basis.


Freshwater eels are readily found at fish stores, and most species are also available through online dealers.

Eel prices vary based on the species’ rarity as well as the size of the eel. Tire Track eels, for example, cost roughly $20, whereas Electric eels cost well over $300.

In Conclusion

Even though eels appear to be menacing, they are really simple to care for once you have learned how. Not only that, but they may provide an exotic flair to your aquarium.

There are a variety of eel species to consider, each with its unique set of requirements, but I hope this article provided you a better sense of what you’re getting yourself into if you’re thinking of maintaining these interesting freshwater eel aquarium.

They may survive for many years and become a lifetime buddy if properly cared for.

Read also:

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11 Popular Freshwater Sharks Species for Home Aquariums

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