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FAQs on Mastacembelid, Spiny Eel Fishes of the genus Aethiomastacembelum

Related Articles: Spiny EelsThe truth about spiny eels; A closer look at these popular but problematic oddballs by Neale Monks, Husbandry of the Barred Spiny Eel, Macrognathus panacalus by Marco Lichtenberger, 

Related FAQs: Spiny Eel Identification, Spiny Eel Behavior, Spiny Eel Compatibility, Spiny Eel Selection, Spiny Eel Systems, Spiny Eel Feeding, Spiny Eel Disease, Spiny Eel Reproduction, By Species: Fire Eels, Peacock Eels, Tire Track Eels, Yellow Tail Spiny Eel (Mastacembelus panculus), Macrognathus aral,


FW Eel  1/16/06 Hi, there! First off, I will begin by thanking whomever is reading/answering this e-mail. I am a relative newcomer to keeping FW eels. I currently own two such specimens. One 7" striped peacock eel, and one 4" zig-zag, or tiretrack eel. I purchased the tiretrack eel from Arizona Aquatic Gardens (azgardens.com) whose incompetent 'staff' told me that the zig-zag eel would grow no more than 10" or so. I have found since that my eel may grow to 3', which poses a dire problem to me. < Fire eels, Mastacembelus erythrotaenia, gets big, like three feet long. I have seen them in public aquariums at least that big. But the tire track eels that I am familiar with, Mastacembelus circumcinctus, stay around eight inches or so.> <<There are other "tiretrack eel" species. RMF>> However, there is an even bigger dilemma I am confronting today: is there such a fish as a dwarf starry night eel (*Caeco**Mastacembelus spp.), *and what size does such a specimen attain? Is it a strictly FW fish? What, pray tell, is the recommended pH and aquarium size of such a specimen? I have tried to Google this one out, and have even gone through the German and French websites, with very little success. I am contemplating the purchase, but I am cautious, as the seller (AAG) states such a specimen will not grow past 6". Is this even possible, in your opinion? Thanks again for answering my question and I bid you good day. George < While diving in Lake Tanganyika a few years ago we saw many eels. Some were only 4 inches long and swam like little seahorses while others were at least a foot long. Look at Caecomastacembelus, Afromastacembelus and Aethiomastacembelum on fishbase.org. These are the three genera of eels from Africa. All that I know of get up to a least a foot and a couple get up to two feet. The Lake Tanganyikan ones require hard alkaline water with the others probably tolerating almost any kind of water. The eel you are looking for may be in these groups.-Chuck>

Sick eel please help I have a Aethiomastacembelus elipsifer Tanganyika eel and it does not look like he is eating and has gotten very skinny. I was wondering if there was anything I could do to fatten him up. He is not very active and does not look very good. I have him in a 55 gal. with mainly a Tanganyika/Malawi setup. I have tried feeding him bloodworms, freeze-dried plankton, and flake food at night after I have turned the lights out and the other fish have already been fed. I even tried holding it in front of him and he will not eat it. He used to bury himself all the time and now he just stays in one spot out all the time. I am very worried about him. What should I do?   < These eels are very cool. I saw many different species in lake Tanganyika as few years ago. They ranged from little small 4 inch eels that would swim around like little sea horses to very large ones like fire eels. In the wild we saw them feeding on small shell dwelling cichlids in around the rocks. We caught them at night in minnow traps using very oily fish as bait in the trap. I would catch the eel and place him in a separate tank that is well covered so he won't jump out. Place a layer of fine sand on the bottom and a rock or cave that he can hide in. Make sure the water temp is at least 80 degrees. I would first try some live washed earthworms or some well washed black worms. Then I would get some feeder guppies and throw them in the tank. See if the eel will take the guppies out of your hand. If this doesn't work then maybe small strips or raw fish cut to bite sized chunks. In a large community tank these eels are reluctant to feed because of all the commotion the cichlids create. You eel may end up needing live fish all the time. -Chuck> Thanks, Jessica B.

African cichlids w/ eels I have been doing some serious research about this and have unfortunately gotten (as usual) conflicting advise on the matter.  First off I love the site, great answers.  What do you know about Aethiomastacembelus elipsifer or Aethiomastacembelus plagiostoma? <Not much. Members of this genus of spiny eels rarely come into the trade in the west> I have an African setup in a 55 gallon w/ black sand and tons of rocks to hide in.  Do you think these guys would do well?  I know to cover any and every hole to prevent suicide and thought about actinic lights  to possibly increase the time spent swimming instead of hiding.  Tell me what you guys think. Thanks, <If the cichlids are not overly aggressive... and you can get the eels in relatively good initial health... you just might have a very nice biotope set-up going. Please write in re your experiences with these Mastacembelids. Bob Fenner>

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