Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Kate 02-26-2007 08:16 AM

Identifying a sick(?) eel!
I hope this is in the right section - please excuse my noobness if it is not.
*Picture was taken when he was in a quarantine tank. He's now in a 55gal with very fine gravel bottom. Temp is kept at 82 degrees F and is being fed live black works every other day.

I was told this was a fire eel when I bought it - but it doesn't look anything like any of the fire eels I've seen online. He's not doing well at all I think possibly dying. He's been lying on his side quite a bit, seems to be "breathing" more heavily than normal, not hiding as he usually does, and is not active at all (will actually allow me to move him instead of fleeing from my hand).

Is this possibly a saltwater eel? Does anyone know anything about these guys or can positively identify the species so I can properly take care of him and get him back to being healthy? Any help would be *greatly* appreciated. I'm really worried about this lil guy.

lioness501 02-26-2007 10:35 AM

wat r ur water params? im no expert but i know that is the first question u will b asked :wink:

squiggles1 02-26-2007 04:34 PM

i know exactly what he is because i have one! he is a freshwater moray eel. the reason he is prob acting that way is because he's not really fw at all but brackish. he needs to be in a part salt water condition with a specific gravity of 0.005-0.010 (in case you don't know a total salt water tank is 0.022, which is a way to measure the salt in water since salt water is denser then fresh). if left in completley fresh water he will develop a slimy coating, stop eating, gasp and die in a relativley short time. i hope this helps.

squiggles1 02-26-2007 05:14 PM

o and if you are able to set up a brackish tank for him, be sure to introduce him slowly. when we bought our we didnt know he was brackish and put him in our fw. but we found out quickly and put him in a container and used a tube to drip the brackish water in. it took awhile but he made the transition fine. these are very loveable eels. they can be taught to come out of the water for food ( we're not there yet) but mine will come to the glass when i put my finger there and also knows that only if he sees the cup i bring his food in that he's getting fed. also they are sensitive to change and mine will go off his food for 2 dyas after a water change before he likes me again! :wink:

Kate 02-28-2007 05:57 PM

He died shortly after I posted this. Ugh. I'm so mad at the fish store who sold him to me as a "fire eel". Is there anything I can do to prevent them from selling more of these gorgeous eels as fire eels? There has to be some kind of law against it, right? I'm so upset this guy died and don't want anymore to have to suffer the same fate. :'(

bettababy 03-01-2007 01:31 AM

Kate, I am sorry for your loss, and I feel your anger. There is actually a lot you can do. Very simply... COMPLAIN! Make some noise, get someone's attention, and let them know that you are angry. Mind if I ask the name of the pet store and what state you are located in? You can PM me this info if you don't wish to post it.
Unfortunately, many people don't go so far as to actually complain, which means the store either never knows they did something wrong or they figure it doesn't matter to the customer, so why change what they're doing?
Something else I would do is to visit the following links, print the pictures of a real fire eel, and present this to the manager and ask him/her to please explain? Do your homework about both eel species before going in there, know what you're talking about and then let them know, too.

It's hard to tell from your picture, but your eel appears to be a snowflake eel.

This is a wonderful species, and the last one I cared for was over 3 ft long, and quite the character. It's still thriving, in full saltwater. The misconception of how to properly keep a snowflake eel is incredible, and partly due to their natural habitats and where they are wild caught. They do spend part of their time swimming through brackish and even freshwater areas, and they do best when their natural habitat is mimic'd as much as possible, with gradual changes from one to the other, but full saltwater should be the majority of their environment. They will do much better in brackish than in freshwater for short times, but still will need full saltwater, eventually. They also require a large tank, they get huge and are very messy eaters. They also don't see well, so some people can find them tricky to feed. These eels also stress easily, which will cause color changes, shedding of the slime coating, various other illnesses, and eventually death.
If you wish to try again to keep one, I would enjoy coaching you through the steps to doing it safely. Feel free to ask anytime.
Let us know what happens with the others at the store... and GOOD LUCK!!!

squiggles1 03-01-2007 11:38 AM

i dont have any great pics of my eel but here are a couple i found for you to compare what your eel looked like to these guys. these are the fresh water moray eels. if u want to google it you should be able to find a fair amount of info. just type in fresh water moray eel :wink:

bettababy 03-01-2007 03:36 PM

Kate 03-01-2007 10:21 PM

Thank you! I've been looking for good information on these guys.

Kate 03-07-2007 02:03 AM

Dawn - I didn't see before all the advice you posted - thank you again for all of your help! I'll be messaging you soon

So get this.
I went back to the store this past weekend.
There were three eels in the tank - one was already dead, the other two were heavily gasping and emaciated. It was freshwater tank, and the gravel was very coarse - not good living conditions at all. One had a huge lesion on his bottom jaw. The skin on the other one looked broken on the top of it's head. I asked the nearest attendant if he knew anything about them - he didn't even know what they were, let alone how to care for them. I very nicely asked the guy if his manager was available, and he said he was really busy. So I tried to talk to the kid and explain to him what I knew about them - and then asked if there was any way I could talk to the manager. He went to the manager and told him what I had said. The manager told the kid to tell me that he knew everything that was needed to be known about the eels, but that because they usually sell within a week, they don't bother to change the habitat they're kept in while at the store.
Can you friggen believe that!?
I'm writing a letter tomorrow to them.
If anyone wants their information, feel free to message me and I'd be happy to provide all you'll need.

So I did another stupid thing.
I fell for one of the eels and bought it anyway.

Right now he's in a ten gallon recovering. I've been slowly adding salt to water, and by Monday (bought him Sat.) he was doing ALOT better. His skin looks like it's repairing itself, he's gotten a lot more active, and he's not gasping nearly as much. As happy as I was to see that he was doing so much better, it made me even more upset at the store. If three days can mean that much to the health of these animals, how could they possibly neglect them in such a manner? Not only are they doing the eels an incredible justice, they are jeapordizing the customer's satisfaction. (Imagine if they had taken the time to set up the tank properly and the eels were healthy - how much easier that would be for customers AND them? They probably wouldn't have lost that other eel.) Right now I'm working under the guidance of a professional to set up a 55 gal brackish water tank for him - it should be finished by the time he's fully recovered. As he gets bigger, I'll keep getting bigger tanks. Right now a 55 gal was all I could afford lol.

Bittersweet ending-as-of-now. I'll deff let you guys know if I get a letter back from these slimeballs.

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