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FAQs about "Freshwater" Morays Eel Disease

Related FAQs: "FW" Moray Eels, FW Moray ID, FW Moray Behavior, FW Moray Compatibility, FW Moray Selection, FW Moray Systems, FW Moray Feeding, FW Moray Reproduction, Marine Moray Eels

Related Articles: Freshwater Moray Eels by Marco Lichtenberger, Freshwater Moray Eels, Moray Eels, Other Marine Eels, 

Snowflake eel... no data        11/14/13
I need help I dont know whats wrong with my eel. I have him in a medicine tank with tetra lifeguard all in one treatment but does seem to be getting better. Here are some pictures of him please help.
<....? Is this Gymnothorax tile? Search WWM re the species, the health of so-called freshwater morays... See the sorts of data we're looking for... from others writing us. Bob Fenner>

re: Snowflake eel     11/15/13
Yes I didn't know the proper name for him.
<Indeed. Now, as Bob implies, the so-called Freshwater Moray absolutely must be kept in strongly brackish to marine conditions, SG 1.010 upwards, and since you haven't said anything about your aquarium, we're assuming you're trying to keep it in freshwater, WHICH WILL NOT WORK. Virtually all health problems with this species come from keeping it in the wrong (i.e., freshwater) conditions. Since it isn't compatible with other fish (it bites), its brackish to marine requirements don't normally pose any problems to the (informed) aquarist. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwmorayart.htm
There is a true marine Snowflake Moray, about which you can read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snowflakemoray.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

re: Snowflake, BR eel   11/17/13
Yes I do have some salt in my aquarium enough for him to be fine and not too much for my other fish.
<Ah, reminds me of my Dad; he wanted a "happy medium" suitable for Goldfish and Seahorses! But seriously, unless you have approximately HALF STRENGTH seawater, you don't have enough salinity. In Americanese, seawater is approximately 4 to 4.5 ounces of salt per gallon, or upwards of 20 teaspoons of salt! If you have other tropical fish there, tetras and cichlids and whatnot, I doubt you have anything like that salinity. If you have other brackish or hardy marine fish (Monos, Scats, Damselfish, etc.) then you already have a hydrometer and can tell me the specific gravity of your aquarium.>
Secondly the eel in the picture is of the second one I have. I bought him with I slight fungal infection and took care of it. About a week later he started to look like the pictures. That infection is what I don't know about.
<Bottom line, it's environmental. Move this Moray to a high-end brackish or marine system and whatever skin infection it has now will go away. Few/no skin parasites that affect freshwater fish can also live in marine conditions. May not even be a parasite, but simply excess mucous and/or necrosis of damaged skin tissue in suboptimal, stressful conditions. So you have a really easy fix here. But if you don't want to set up a brackish or marine system for the Moray (in which case why did you buy it?) then you will need someone else to rehome it. This fish WILL DIE in anything less than about SG 1.010 brackish water, and arguably needs near marine (1.018+) conditions for optimal health. Hope this is clear/helpful. It's not often we can be 100% clean and certain about diagnosing problems, but when it comes to keeping marine fish like Morays in freshwater tanks, the answer is obvious and easy to explain! Cheers, Neale.>

Gymnothorax tile eel     10/25/13
Over the last week we have noticed that our eel is looking rough. He hasn't eaten in over a month (I know they do this) but a few days ago we noticed a huge bulge on him.
<Appears to be a (simple) goiter... Do you supplement iodide/ate? >
Today he is lying on his side looking like he is dying.
He is currently in a 135 gal tank, full saltwater (SG 1.024), water parameters are all within normal standards.
<Use the search tool on WWM with the two words: "fish goiter" and read on!
Bob Fenner; who has also sent to MarcoL>

Gymnothorax tile eel      Marco's return       10/28/13
Over the last week we have noticed that our eel is looking rough. He hasn't eaten in over a month (I know they do this) but a few days ago we noticed a huge bulge on him. Today he is lying on his side looking like he is dying.
He is currently in a 135 gal tank, full saltwater (SG 1.024), water parameters are all within normal standards.
<Just arrived from a few offline days. The picture does not look good. In case you haven't seen it yet, please see the first message on http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwmoraydisfaqs.htm  for a very similar case. Good luck. Marco.> 

Sick Eel    3/9/13
Hello,
<Hi Erin.>
I hope I am writing to the correct email address. Back in 2008 I spoke to Marco about a Gymnothorax tile that was not eating. Anyways I converted him to full salt and all was right in the world. I am having a massive issue with him again but am at a major loss as to what it could be and what I can do. In the last week he has dropped weight dramatically! He is quite fat around the gills and a spot behind his bum (which seems odd)
<This sounds strange.>
He has been eating fine.... So I can't explain the weight loss. This morning he was active but nothing out of the ordinary and tonight he was lying outside of his cave in his side. Not his usual caper so I knew straight away something is up. I checked his water which is a little saltier than normal and I'll have his water tested tomorrow professionally.
For now as it's 12am here I have added some fresh water and an extra filter for more oxygen and treated the tank with easy life. He is in a 164 litre tank on his own. If you can suggest anything or would have any explanation for the rapid weight loss I would greatly appreciate it. I have my fingers crossed he makes it through the night. Thank you.
Erin
<An ended constipation, endoparasites (internal parasites), some tumors and laying eggs can be related to a rapid weight loss. First the water parameters should be checked (esp. pH, nitrates) to see if the environment is sufficient (relevant for tumors related to bacteria). A larger water change won't hurt. If lumps occur on the fish it can be hard to differentiate between parasites and tumors by only looking at the fish, it seems almost impossible from just a description. For internal parasites a number of meds is available (e.g. with the ingredient praziquantal), tumors (e.g. related to bacteria or cancer) are hardly treated without the proper help of a vet. Also see WWM for morays with lumps. Let's hope for the best.
Marco.>
Re: Sick Eel   3/10/13

Hi Marco,
<Hello Erin.>
nice to hear from you again. Bad news, Jim didn't make it through the night.
<I'm very sorry for you.>
I took some photo's of him that I can send through to you if you like.
Do you know how long they live for? Maybe he was just old....
<This species can live for more than 10 or 15 years, but internal parasites (which can be in a fish for several years) can shorten this tremendously. Maybe this was the case here. To know the cause of death one would have to examine the swollen areas.>
Thanks Erin
<Take care. Marco.>

Gymnothorax Tile: Slime coat and compatibility concern    12/25/12
Hello. About 3-4 weeks ago after much consideration I purchased a Gymnothorax tile from the fish store I work at. We kept them at about 1.010-1.013 salinity, and had them for several months before I decided to bring mine home.
He is currently in a 29 gallon tank, that will be upgraded within 2 months to at least a 50 breeder. He is roughly 8". Tank was running as a freshwater tank for one year, and I converted it to brackish using marine salt. Salinity is 1.014. Ph: 7.8, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 20. Temp is 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and is currently running on an Eheim ECCO and a sponge filter. I do 20-25% water changes twice a week. Considering running a Hydor circulation pump at the surface, but not sure if it will be too much water flow.
<I've kept and keep various moray eel species (including G. tile) in tanks with turnover rates of more than 30 times per hour. I don't think the eels care at all. A strong surface current does increase gaseous exchange, which will benefit the system in general. The fine sand, however, might develop ripples.>
Fine sandy bottom with plenty of PVC caves, thinking of adding lace rock and creating more natural caves. He has one tank mate, a Batrachomoeus trispinosus, another so-called 'freshwater' fish.
<A very interesting species.>
These two were in the store tank together for approximately 4 months. The eel gets fed 3 times a week. I have been feeding him krill, clam strips, and lance fish so far. Thinking of adding ghost shrimp harvested from my freshwater tanks and earthworms to his diet.
<Sounds good to me. I'd mostly replace krill with some other, larger crustaceans in the future and add vitamins about once a week if mostly frozen food is fed.>
He seems good appetite and activity wise (active at appropriate times), but when he comes out to feed I've noticed what appears to be sand sticking to the slime coat of his belly. If I stick my hand in the tank and lightly touch him, it comes right off, but I'm curious if he could be stressed and producing extra slime coat?
<I don't think so. I suppose this is due to an interaction of the specific sand with slime. I have seen this happen mostly with relatively new sand.
Maybe the sand has not developed proper biofilms since you brought the salinity up.>
I didn't notice this in the store, but the sand I chose is very fine and soft, and the sand we had in the store was, I believe, a denser sand marketed for African Cichlids. Otherwise, his color is an even dark grey, with some minor speckling if you look closely farther down his body. No white or faded patches. Any idea what could be causing this? Is there even reason for concern?
<I don't think so and believe this will cease with time.>
Also, is the Batrachomoeus trispinosus compatible long term? or even short term for that matter? If yes, will he handle a full marine conversion the eel requires in the future?
<Please note that Batrachomoeus trispinosus sometimes seems to be confused with Potabatrachus trispinosus due to the same species name, a similar genus name and a somewhat similar overall appearance. Potabatrachus trispinosus is a tiny freshwater fish (2-3") while Batrachomoeus trispinosus gets a foot long and can be caught offshore and in reefs. It's basically a marine fish which also inhabits higher salinity parts of river deltas. They can eat enormous prey items. I believe it will depend on the size of the two fishes, their growth if long term success is possible.>
Thank you for your time, Catherine
<Welcome. Marco.> 

Help with Gymnothorax tile laying on back/abnormal breathing   7/11/12
I bought a 30 gallon tank about 2 weeks ago and bought a freshwater eel (Gymnothorax tile) and a Pictus catfish.  I know I made a major mistake by not cycling the tank first (I added a Quickstart thinking this would work).   AFTER I bought everything and reading on the internet I realized the eel should really be in brackish water and also my tank was too small for the 18 inch eel and 5 inch catfish.  He was kept in freshwater at the pet store and they told me to put him in freshwater and I made the mistake in believing they knew what they were talking about.  The water had high ammonia (between 1 and 3) within days and the eel stopped eating.  He was eating frozen shrimp great and then one night it looked like he threw up his shrimp and after that slowly stopped eating. I went 3 days ago and bought a 100 gallon hoping that would help the water.  We added the new and old filter together to help set up the bacteria and added better beneficial bacteria.  We are now using a cascade 1500 canister filter.  He has been in the water for 3 days now.  He still has no interest in food.  Now since we moved him he is also laying upside down with his mouth open and looks dead.  Then if the catfish bumps him or we give a tap on the tank he jolts upright and does very open mouth big gulps of breath (he has been doing the big gulps of breath for about a week now). The water test today says ammonia 0 (I think it's 0, yellow with a tinge of brown not green on the test strip).  Nitrate between 0 and 20, nitrite 0, hardness .25, alkalinity we think is over 300 (it looks blue), and ph 8.2. Water temp is 80.  We have been adding a TBSP per 5 gallons of salt but just read it should have been marine salt. Long term, I don't really want to set up this 100 gallon as a brackish but would he be ok in a brackish 30?
<Yes, but that’s the absolute minimum. If you can go larger go larger.>
Or would he be ok if I tried to set the 100 up as full salt water and move the catfish? 
<The better option.>
A second local fish store that is the most knowledgeable said he would also be ok in fresh since he was used to it.
<This is not true.>
My question is what is going on with his breathing and being upside down and where do I go from here to keep him alive short term and long term.
<First decide in which tank you want to keep it. Both tanks are basically uncycled, which is most likely the cause of your eels condition, so you need to check for ammonia and nitrite daily and do large water changes (50% and more) if any occurs (easy in the smaller tank). Also, establish a sufficient oxygen supply e.g. by creating enough surface movement with a filter outlet or a separate pump. In addition, get a bucket of salt for marine aquariums and a araeometer or hydrometer to measure the salt content (or density to be more precise). Ensure that what you get can measure brackish to marine salinities. Increase the density of your water by about 0.002 per week. In week 5-6 you should have reached 1.010 (you can go somewhat slower if you want to), which should be the minimum for this eel species. In the long run think about increasing slowly to marine salinity, because it's in my opinion easier to maintain and offers for options for proper filtration (live rock, skimmer). The catfish and the eel won't be able to live in the same tank by the way, because they need different salinities in the long run. For food see the following article and also read the moray eel FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayart.htm >
Thank you so much for any advice you can give me.
<I hope it's useful. Good luck. Marco.>

Gymnothorax tile help     4/5/12
Hello, I have bought a Gymnothorax tile about 2 weeks ago from a private listing. After getting to their house to pick up my new pet, I realized that he/she was living in horrible conditions. It was in a 10 gallon tank half full, with no salt, poor filtration, and horrible water conditions. After getting him/her home, I did a major tank clean (I know not the best idea, but his/her water was really that bad I had no other option), added water conditioner and let him be for a couple days. I then slowly started adding Instant Ocean marine salt, I do not know the exact measurements, I will be getting a hydrometer tomorrow,
<Yes, you'll need that.>
but I have added about 1 cup less than a half of a box (I was told that I should do half the recommended dose) that was specifically measured for a 10 gallon tank, which is what he is still currently in.
<Much too small. You should also get a larger tank in the near future.>
I have upgraded his filtration system to 2 filters made for 10-30 gallons, and added a heater. Right now his tank is about 28 degrees Celsius.
<24-26°C is enough. The water will carry more oxygen at lower temperatures, which should help a little in this small, uncycled system.>
He is currently on a steady diet of shrimp, they were feeding him cubed ham which after doing research I found was a big no-no, I will be introducing silversides into his diet tomorrow.
<Silversides can be fed regularly, but should not be the main part of the diet. It's important to get the diet mixed a lot. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Freshwater_eels/freshwater_eels.htm >
Ok with all that being said, my Gymnothorax tile has been acting very strange lately. He seems to be struggling to breathe on and off throughout the day,  flipping upside down and laying there for a few seconds, and then violently thrashing his tail back and forth creating craters in his sandy bottom. I am new to owning this species, and have done all the research that I can, but I just can't figure out if his behavior is normal.
<Likely an environmental problem due to the small and probably still uncycled system.>
Will he/she be ok, and is there something that I am doing wrong? Please help.
<The best for its survival would be to get it into a larger, well established marine system until you can provide a sufficient one. If you instead of that wish to use your current tank, get a test kit for ammonia and one for nitrates in addition to a hydrometer and more salt. The test kits will show when you should change water (basically you are cycling the tank with a fish in it now due to the major tank clean). Any ammonia measurement >0 or nitrates above 20-25 ppm are a reason for a water change. Also, keep the water surface moved with what filters you have available. When you reach marine salinity (check with the hydrometer) you can add well cured live rock to help with the filtration. In the mean time you should get a larger tank and start cycling it without fish. Later you can transfer your moray and the live rock to the larger tank and get rid of the small one or use it for something else.>
Thank you for your time, Stephanie
<Good luck. Marco.>
Re "Freshwater" Moray Eel Two Questions, fdg., sys.    4/9/12

Hi again, this is Alyson (the one with the "piggy" Gymnothorax tile) Since we last spoke I have been feeding him lesser and lesser each day to get him used to eating every other day. He is doing fine, keeps "begging" but I just don't look at him lol.
<Sounds good.>
I did have just two more additional questions....I was planning on purchasing another Gymnothorax tile and I have read on your site that they can live together and normally don't show any type of aggression towards one another.
<Yes, this works best if both (or more) are introduced to the tank
together, but adding another one generally works, too, with this species.>
I was just wondering if I do actually purchase an additional eel should I look for any "hints" that two are being aggressive towards one another <There may be an initial 'fight' at first contact, since one has established its territory, but if there are enough caves it should be no problem.
Rearranging some rocks/caves (without turning the tank into a cloudy mess of course) before adding the new one can also help.>
and also my specific gravity is already at 1.020-1.021....would this hurt the "new eel" moving him into that high of a level so soon after purchasing him?? (that's assuming the idiotic pet store has him in full freshwater, which they normally do)
<Acclimation can be rather quick. If you want to be on the safe side try this: Put the new eel with the water it was transported in into a bucket (add a small airstone if you have one at hand) with lid. Add tank water over about one or two hours until about 70-90% of the water in the bucket is tank water. You can use a cup or an air hose with a loose knot. Then, add the eel to the display or if available quarantine tank. The acclimation procedure can be combined with a small water change, since you have to replace the tank water you added to the bucket if you wish to avoid adding water from the store to your tank.>
I appreciate all of your help and hope to hear from you soon! Thanks
<Welcome. Marco.>

Re: Another issue Marco :(, G. tile      4/29/12

Hi again Marco, it's once again Alyson.
<Hello there.>
I feel so bad for pestering you with my questions/concerns :(  I live in North Carolina, USA (do not know where you are located),
<Southern Germany, near Heidelberg.>
but I can not find vitamin supplements anywhere for my eel's food. There are 6 pet stores and no one has them and don't even know what I'm talking about (Haha I know right), so my question to you is there a brand/site that you can recommend so that I can order it over the internet for my eel?
<Vita-Chem Marine is not bad. A few drops on the food once or twice per week.>
Also, the only pet store in my city that has live rock is a very "dirty, sick animal type place" so if you can also recommend a good, trustworthy site to order live rock from? If so, that would be awesome.
<I don't have personal experience with online US live rock sellers, I prefer to see the rocks in the store. But I will leave the email in the inbox if someone else has a good online source.>
I know in previous emails you have advised me to get a skimmer, trust me I am definitely saving up for one lol.
<Very good, this will help with waste removal and oxygen supply. Also keep the water surface moved to help with the gaseous exchange.>
I still only have the one Gymnothorax tile, but I ordered another one and it should be in Tuesday so wish me luck.
<Okay.>
Once again, thank you so much for all of your advice and help, although my eel is still laying his head sideways I am going to take your advice and not worry about.
<I guess as long as the water is ok, that's just some stress from the move.>
Thank again and cheers to you too! :)
<Welcome. Marco.>
Hi Marco, another question    5/1/12

Hey again, hopefully this should be my last question for awhile ( I know you're probably thinking thank goodness lol). Since I cannot locally get the vitamin supplements for my eel's food, I was looking at your site and saw some things about being able to add baby and/or human vitamins to fish food.
<Yes, this can be done, although personally I rather use products developed for aquarium use.>
I spent all of today searching the site to see exactly (if so) what types of things to look for if I choose to go that route. I definitely need to add vitamins to Eely's food because although it's a variety, it is mostly frozen. If it is ok and safe to add baby and/or human vitamins, what should I look for and avoid when purchasing?
<Prefer sugar free liquid products high in thiamin.>
Also, how do I go about adding it to an individual feeding?
<Add a few drops after the thawing process and before feeding. If you feed larger foods (little fishes such as silver sides or clams, mussels, shrimps) you can also use a syringe to inject the vitamins into the food.>
And by the way, my new Gymnothorax tile should be in tomorrow (yay).
<Seems it's time to feed the old resident and rearrange some caves to avoid most territorial behaviour.>
Anything you know on supplementing human vitamins for "fish" vitamins would be awesome, if not I will have to order some online. Thanks again.
<Hope this helps. Marco.>
Re: Hi Marco, another question, BR  5/2/12

Hi again Marco, yeah I think I am just going to play it safe and order some vita-chem. marine over the internet. As far as preparing for the new eel
(still waiting for the pet store to call to say it came in) Yesterday I bought some more "caves" and what not and rearranged the tank decor so I am hoping that will help with the "new arrival"  Thanks again for all of your help!
<You're welcome and I hope everything went well. Marco.>
New issue with eel laying with head sideways
Sigh....I thought for sure the last email I sent you would be the last lol.
<Oh... well.>
In previous emails I mentioned that my eel was laying his head sideways out of his cave. Well today he was very active, swimming around, exploring the new tank decor. That is when I noticed between his right eye and nostril, also his lower jaw, was very pale. The patches were not white nor did they look like a "fungus" of any kind. The patches are not on the other side of his face, but the reason that I am concerned is that when he did finally go back into his cave, he was rubbing against it on that same side.
<I guess this may occur due to the movement, stress, new and after only 5 days of cycling quite fresh tank... a skin irritation. Better check your water parameters.>
I was searching your site and saw something about "white spot disease," but the pictures I saw didn't look like what is happening in my case. To be safe, should I treat for Ich??
<No. Not until you know it is Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans). You would notice heavy breathing and white, salt grain like spots. Healthy eels practically never get it due to their toxic slime coat.>
Other than his "scratching" he seems perfectly fine, happy with his new decor and such on, but once again any advice would be helpful. Thanks again!
<Check your water, ensure there is enough oxygen in the tank. Good luck.
Marco.>

Re: once again, another problem :( - 5/12/2012
Hi again Marco, I guess I had forgotten to mention that before placing the "sick eel" in my community tank, I did put it in a quarantine tank 1.To get it used to some salinity and 2. To watch how it was....It seemed relatively fine in the quarantine tank. In regards to the "swollen throat" I either jumped to conclusions thinking it was bacterial or was right. It was also very skinny (I know it had probably not eaten in a while since he was in captivity maybe making his throat seem slightly bigger?). After watching him in the quarantine tank (not showing any signs of sickness) that’s when I decided to move him to the community tank.
wwm: Quarantine is rather a matter of weeks instead of days (or hours).
At first he was swimming around exploring for about 5-6 min and then he just nose dived into the sand and laid side ways. He appeared to have stopped breathing, that’s when my eel went up and nudged him. So, I immediately removed him and put him into the hospital tank and treated him with (you're right I misspelled) Maracyn. I believe it was just too late. He started getting paler and paler and eventually died. Maybe it was bacterial or maybe it was that in combination with stress and starvation I don't know and I'm sure him being kept in freshwater for a long time at the LFS didn't help either. But in response to "putting a sick eel into my tank" I believe I took every precaution before adding him. I quarantined him first and he didn’t not show any signs of "sickness".
wwm: You had the suspicion and I think you were right for quarantining the eel. Won't argue here, though, since this case is closed, all that can be stated is: If you think a fish might be sick don't buy it and if you still do buy it quarantine for some weeks it until you are sure it is healthy.
I was a veterinary technician for many years (we didn’t deal with fish though lol) so I take great care of all of my animals.
wwm: See above for proper times for quarantine. Here's also a good description of a quarantine protocol: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm
My eels are like my children and I would never do anything to intentionally hurt them. They are in my home office, so I watch them all day, constantly checking PH, ammonia etc. I just want to make sure I am doing everything I possibly can to ensure they are healthy and have a healthy environment (I guess that’s why I bother you so much with my concerns). As far as my baby eel goes, he has learned not to go into a cave that Eely is in lol and I actually got him to eat 2hrs after purchasing him. Another question is since he is a baby should I keep the water brackish until he grows and then turn to full marine?
wwm: Can perfectly live in marine water even at small sizes.
I read that the juveniles live in brackish and as adults they migrate to full marine so if I could get your advice on that.
wwm: A theory that to my knowledge never was substantiated by usable evidence.
I am still saving for a skimmer (boy, they aren't cheap), but not knowing much about skimmers, can you use them in brackish or just strictly full salt?
wwm: Most start working quite well at brackish salinities, but at higher salinity the surface tension of the water will be higher, so it become easier for stable bubbles and foam to form and more organic material will be removed.
Thanks again. Best wishes, Alyson
Once again, another problem :( - 5/11/2012
Hi Marco,
wwm: Hi Alyson.
I dont know if you remember when I said I ordered a new Gymnothorax tile to add to my tank. Well, it took until yesterday to show up. My local pet store had three, one that was the same size as my G. tile and two babies....Well as I was looking at the "bigger one" I wasnt happy about his throat. It seemed swollen (which led me to believe maybe bacterial infection) and he was not hiding like most eels do. Well, against my doubts I purchased the larger one so that there wouldn't be a "size to size" issue.
wwm: The best option would have been to purchase none of them, but the sick fish is mostly the worst choice.
Needless to say, the eel lasted about 30 min. It was very sad to watch, even my eel was nudging it trying to "wake it up". He was still breathing very shallow, so I immediately moved him to my hospital tank and tried to treat him with Macryn
wwm: Don't know this one. You probably mean Maracyn.
, but I believe it was too late. So (I know exactly what you are going to say lol)
wwm: Like, why did you buy a sick eel and put it in the display tank possibly introducing pathogens instead of the hospital until it heals or dies.
I purchase one of the baby G. tile. Yes I am aware at the bullying that could happen between my larger one and the new one. So far so good. There was an initial fight when the baby tried to go in "Eely's" home and I broke it up. There was no signs of damage to the new eel and in response to that, the baby later on, went up and nipped the bigger eel's tail lol (once again no injuries).
wwm: Doesn't sound too bad so far. Keep an eye on them.
My problem is that after removing the "original new eel who died" my nitrates skyrocketed. I did a 50% water change, but still no change. PH is at 8.0 and ammonia is at 0...Any ideas???
wwm: I don't think this is directly connected to the new eel. The short term solution for high nitrates is water changes, the long term solution is to improve filtration. When you reach marine salinity, a skimmer would likely be a good investion. Until then I think water changes are your best option. Also read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and in the linked FAQs.
Once again thanks a lot. Best wishes, Alyson
wwm: Good luck. Marco.

Re: think i fixed nitrate prob. but still more questions     5/18/12
Thanks again Marco, I will monitor these "spots" on the baby eel and if anything changes in regards to that I will definitely contact you (with pics).
<Ok.>
Hope you have a good one.
<Will try.>
As always best wishes, Alyson
<Okay. Marco.>

finally got pics    5/19/12
Hey Marco, I was finally able to pics.....they're not the best in the world, but I tried. It seems to have spread. I know they are a little dark, but it was the best I can do. If you can tell what these patches may be, please let me know as soon as you can.
<Can't tell for sure from the pictures. Does almost look like healing scratches from bite marks or sharp decorations, which would not need treatment. I think with the fish in front of you you'll see if these are possible scratches.>
He is still acting normal, but now since it seems to be spreading, I am thinking it is more likely a disease. Please let me know your thoughts on this.
<If this truly keeps spreading (and only then) I'd get the hospital tank up running and treat with Maracyn (preferably Maracyn 2, since at higher salinities many bacteria seem to be gram negative) suspecting a bacterial infection of the skin.>
I have looked on the WetWebMedia site looking at diseases (especially on eels), but I can't pinpoint what this is according to the pic on your site. I will be waiting for any advice you may have. Thanks again.
<Also, keep the water quality high (tank looks still quite "fresh"), have the surface of the water well moved and feed vitamin enriched food. Good luck. Marco.>

Re: finally got pics... G. tile, ongoing chatting     5/20/12
Thanks for getting back to me Marco. I know those weren't the best pictures in the world, but I don't know if you could tell by them, that the spots didn't look granular like Ich, nor was is filmy like a fungus.
<Both would look completely different.>
The spots are just the same color the eel's belly is. So I'm with you thinking the spots maybe scar tissue. Got a couple more questions though, the same eel (the baby) loves to hang on the filter and on the tops of the plants that I have in there. He acts normal and usually does that after my big eel chases him. He just hangs there and watches curiously as opposed to watching from a cave. I'm assuming he does that to be on the safe side so he doesn't run into the big eel. Would that make sense?
<Yes, I think you need more caves. Create narrow caves like properly sized aquarium hoses covered with rocks, lots of rocks (prefer calcareous material like limestone, dead reef rock). If caves are the better option they will be used. If a cave has a much larger diameter than the eel like many aquarium decoration products, it will not be considered as a top notch living quarter.>
Also I purchased a baby vitamin supplement to add to the food and was wondering if I provided you with the information if you could say if it was safe to use or not?  The product is Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol
Vitamin A 1500 IU
Vitamin C 35 mg
Vitamin D 400 IU
Vitamin E 5 IU
Thiamin (B1) 0.5 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.6 mg
Niacin (B3) 8 mg
Vitamin B6 0.4 mg
Vitamin B12 2mcg
*Ingredients* Glycerin, Water, Ascorbic Acid, Polysorbate 80, Vitamin E Succinate, Niacinamide, Ferrous Sulfate(as a stabilizer for Vitamin B12) Natural and Artificial Flavor, Artificial Caramel Color, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Riboflavin-5-Phosphate Sodium, Vitamin B 6 Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Vitamin B12
<Not as ideal as a specific product for fishes, but according to its composition I think it should do its job.>
This product says it is sugar free,
<Glycerin is a polyol compound.>
but I will wait to hear if this would be a good supplement to use or not.
<I think a few drops can be added to the food after thawing and should improve the vitamin supply and not cause problems.>
Thanks again for your time!
<Welcome. Marco.>
Re: finally got pics      6/3/12

Long time no email Marco lol. Last we spoke I had sent you some pictures of the patches on my new little eel. I am just writing you to tell you that I am almost 100% positive they are healing scratches. Although it is "spreading" the eels get into a minor quarrel at least once a day. The reason I am quite sure it is healing scratches/scar tissue is because one time when they got into a scuffle my big eel nipped at the top of the little one's head and the next day he had a spot on the top of his head. I know you said in earlier emails that if they are healing scratches that I do not need to treat it, I just want to make sure that I don't need to get some kind of substance with aloe in it to maybe help??
<No.>
I don't know lol. Even though my big eel is a bully, this little guy is feisty and will sometimes go right up to my big eel and nip him in the face and swim off. It's actually quite humorous because my big eel will not even retaliate.
<I think this is territorial behaviour and would recommend to add more or different caves as suggested in an earlier email, preferably pvc pipes. This species (G. tile) usually does get along with its own kind very well.>
I want to thank you again for your input on the pics I sent you previously, and like always what you suggested "does almost look like healing scratches from bite marks" was absolutely right. As for my earlier nitrate problem, I'm thinking my tank maybe "established" now??? Because I have had 0 nitrates and 0 ammonia for a good almost 3 weeks now so unless something major happens in my tank, you probably won't be hearing from me.
<Sounds good... the water parameters of course. Nitrates probably will rise again slowly with time.>
Once again, thanks for all of your help
<You are most welcome.>
and if you get paid for working for that site, then you need to get a raise lol.
<We do this for free.>
Take care!
<You too. Marco.>

think i fixed nitrate prob. but still more questions, BR       5/17/12
Hey Marco, in previous emails I had mentioned about my nitrate rise (thinking it may had been caused by the sick eel) and you reassured me that was not the cause. I just want to let you know that you were right. After another water change, with ammonia at 0, my nitrates were still through the roof so I went to my LFS and talked to the girl (who actually knows what she is talking about) and explained my situation. She asked if I use city water (which I do) and if I had done/added water to the tank after a heavy rain (which I did). She said that especially after a heavy rain fall, our crummy city water is loaded with nitrates and that the water conditioner only removes chlorine from the tap water and nothing else. She referred me to a product called Prime made by Seachem and said to remove nitrates, add three times the amount that you would if you were establishing a new tank. Well it worked. Nitrates are at 0 and now I know about my city's water. Have you ever heard of that type of situation?
<Yes, heard of it. It's always a good idea to check the water you use for water changes if strange water parameters occur. I think/hope this was mentioned in earlier emails about water changes. Glad you found the exact source. Don't think of Prime as more than a temporary solution with regard to nitrates, though, I'd still recommend to upgrade your filtration when you reach marine salinities. Too bad your water supply does not deliver a constant quality product.>
The new baby eel that I had purchased after the "sick eel" is absolutely doing great! He is eating and is a feisty little guy. My big eel used to pick on him and I would have to break the up a few times, but now I believe that my big eel knows that the little guy isn't going down without a fight. I do have a question though, near the little eel's tail, there are two small white patches the same look and color that his belly is. Please do excuse me, I am trying to get a camera that can take a good picture. It is not Ich, and does not resemble a fungal infection. He is not scratching on anything and is acting completely normal.
<As long as it does not grow, don't worry.>
I was just wondering if they may go through different color patterns/colorations during the growth cycle?
<Yes, but not such bright spots. Usually the golden speckles become less with age, older G. tile are completely grey with a light grey belly. I've seen such brighter spots on G. tile that never changed or in other cases vanished and don't think this is a disease.>
Any advice you could give would be great and trust me I know it is hard to diagnose with out a picture, but I am trying so hard to find a camera to get a good picture. Once again thanks and take care, Alyson
<Cheers, Marco.> 

My eel looks like he is going to explode.- 10/18/10
I don't know what is wrong but he keeps getting bigger and looks like he is
going to explode. Please help.
<This is a Gymnothorax tile with what seems to be a severe infection. If this eel is being kept in freshwater, transfer it into a marine tank or a brackish tank with at least 10g/l marine salt mix. Provide a good water quality with low nitrates (<25 ppm) and high pH (8.0-8.4). Feed a varied diet (shrimps, mussels, fish filet, octopus or squid) enriched with vitamins. This should help the eel to heal. You could try treating the eel in a hospital tank with an antibiotic such as Maracyn 2, but in this case Id prefer the proper environment and diet route described above since these infections are generally slow and the growth is fully reversible in my experience. See here for more information on this species: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Freshwater_eels/freshwater_eels.htm . Good luck. Marco.><<May be a "thyroid" goiter. RMF would also suggest an iodide/ate addition to foods.>>

Brackish Water Snowflake Eel in Freshwater; sick, starving... 01/10/10
I purchased a fresh water snowflake eel at a pet store about a month ago.
<Gymnothorax tile, a brackish water species that doesn't live long in freshwater.>
The eel was in a fresh water tank with other cichlids of which he is with now.
<Not for long.>
I have a 55 gal fish tank and the water levels are good.
<What's the salinity? At minimum, you need at least one-quarter seawater salinity, 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre or about SG 1.005 at 25 C/77 F.>
There are plenty of hiding spaces, surface tension, filtration and O2. I haven't had much luck with feeding from what I have observed; I have been feeding frozen shrimp and have fed feeder guppies.
<Brackish water morays notoriously starve when kept in freshwater. Perhaps it's their way to tell the fishkeeper they're dying. Whatever the case, once moved to a brackish or marine aquarium it will start feeding.>
It is hard to get ghost shrimp where I live.
<You don't need live food. Feeder Guppies -- unless you're breeding your own at home -- aren't a safe food, so stop using those. You cannot use live fish bought in a pet store as food. It's unsafe, and a good way to make your fish sick. In the right environment these morays are quite greedy.
They hunt by smell, and small morsels of tilapia fillet and cockles offered at night make excellent staples.>
I recently noticed the snowflake eel violently shaking while swimming and kind of just hanging in some of the plants with his face in the rocks; his body also appears to be more white and splotchy than when I first got him.
He has also developed red spots along his body.
<An extremely bad sign. This fish is under intense environmental stress. It needs brackish water conditions, immediately.>
I have tried feeding by hand and he doesn't seem to be interested in anything. Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. Sincerely: Tamarie
<Do read here, Tamarie:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwmorayart.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Moray with mouth tumor 03/15/09
Hello WWM, I have seen several questions on your site about freshwater morays with tumors but mine seems to be unique from the others. I have checked off the other possible reasons such as water quality (waste levels always less than 0.1ppm) salinity
<Even nitrates?.>
is Marine rather than brackish but I don't think this could cause a tumor to form.
<No, marine salinity is beneficial.>
The tumor is the same color as the eels mouth lining and has filled in the upper palate in the eels mouth, it is also beginning to show on the eels upper "lips" as black/pink lumps. The only reason I can personally think of is it's very unusual diet, the only food my eel has ever been willing to eat is raw salmon fillet of all things, (I do dunk the salmon in supplements though for nutrition).
<Vitamin addition is good, nonetheless you are right, the lump may be related to a deficiency disease or a declining immune system due to a lack of a nutrient. Salmon is generally a good choice, but still the diet should be varied. It can take a while, up to a few weeks to train a moray to a new type of food.>
I've had the eel for approximately two years now and the tumor has been visible for a few months now, and in that period the eel has been exposed to a few different anti-bacterial medications with no apparent effect.
<You should specify what you used, real antibiotics or just some often sold tea stuff.>
The eels appetite hasn't been affected yet but if the tumor gets much larger it may threaten to block off the eels mouth entirely. Any information you may have on this situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help guys!
<From what you write I highly suspect the cauliflower disease, which is caused by a virus (Orthomyoxovirus) and is abbreviated as EV2 (Eel virus 2). It should not be confused with the harmless Lymphocystis disease. It generally needs wounds and dirty water to infect an eel, dont exchange any equipment or water with other fish tanks. The virus is much less dangerous in high oxygen water, which means you should increase your surface current with power heads (rated together with at least 30 (thirty) times tank volume per hour) and use a large skimmer. Inorganic di-phosphates have also been used by veterinarians to successfully fight the Orthomyoxovirus, I do not think there is a commonly available product sold for pet fish, so you may have to consult a vet. In addition, tumors have been successfully removed by veterinarians specialized on fish. I would start with the oxygen therapy (skimmer, surface current) and keep the water pristine. If you feel capable to deal with di-phosphates, this would be my second measure, if not you should visit a vet. In the long term I'd try to keep the diet more varied. Good luck. Marco.>

Gymnothorax tile, hlth./env.  9/25/08 alright, i got one of these guys out of a freshwater tank, however he didn't seem to be doing so well. <This species never does well in freshwater aquaria, at least not for long.> then i researched and found that he was a brackish water species. so i added sea salt, but added too much over a long long period of time. my salinity is 1.025 as of now and let me tell you, he has grown at least 6 inches and is doing great in full marine water. <Not a problem for this species. Wild fish live in river estuaries, and can tolerate rapid changes in salinity well. Maintenance at marine salinities is not harmful, and in fact mid brackish (SG 1.010+) to full marine conditions are perhaps the ideal.> is this eel actually a marine eel? <He can be, without any harm at all. In the wild they don't live permanently in the sea, but like most brackish water fish, will do just fine in a marine tank.> he seems to be doing better in the full marine than he was in the brackish water! he's in a 12o gallon tank, FOWLR. <I'm sure he's very happy! Enjoy your pet. Cheers, Neale.>

Gymnothorax tile  01/22/2008 I have had a Gymnothorax tile for about two weeks. I bought it from a store who had him in a freshwater tank and so I put him in my freshwater tank and has shown no interest in eating at all. <Completely normal in both regards: these eels are routinely sold as freshwater fish (which they are not, at least not in captivity) and when the salinity is too low they don't eat. Once the SG is above 1.005 they normally pep right up.> After a few days of having him I saw some flakey skin on him and thought it was a slime coat starting so I put him in brackish water ( one tablespoon of instant ocean to one gallon of water) and is still not eating. <No idea what "one tablespoon" per gallon comes out is real terms. To create brackish water you should be -- at the very least -- going by weight. Brackish water for this Moray is about 9 grammes per litre of water (or 1.2 ounces per US gallon). Ideally you'd be using a hydrometer (which costs a mere $5 for a floating glass model) so you can accurately assess the salinity using that. SG 1.005 is the minimum for this species, and long term you're likely to need SG 1.010.> My eel now has a white fleshy hump towards his head on his dorsal fin about a half inch long what should I do? <That looks like Finrot of some sort. It needs to be dealt with at once, otherwise a systemic bacterial will get started, and at that point the fish will die. You will need an antibiotic of some sort, such as Maracyn. Antibacterials (such as eSHa 2000) would work as an alternative, but Morays tend to be sensitive to Copper salts especially, so check the ingredients on the package carefully.> Did I put him in too much salt at once or is it because he is not eating? <No, raising the salinity is more likely to be helping than harming. But if the salinity is still too low, then you're not going to coax him into feeding. Do also remember these fish are nocturnal and hunt by smell. What they want is a nice little piece of seafood popped in the tank each night. Squid, clam or prawn will do. The chunk should be about 1 cm cube for a 30 cm eel. Adding too much food at once makes it difficult for them to forage, oddly enough: the smell gets all over the tank, and they can't home in on their "prey".> I have to rosy red gold fish in their with him along with 4 ghost shrimp and also tried frozen shrimp. <Never, ever feed these fish live feeder fish unless you want to kill them. And Rosy Red minnows are -- like Goldfish -- about as healthy for fish as Happy Meals are to growing children. Bob Fenner has discussed here and elsewhere the catastrophic damage cyprinid fish (such as minnows and Goldfish) have on the physiology of marine predators. The only safe and easy to get live fish for use by aquarists are home-bred livebearer fry. Buy some Mollies, put them in a tank, and then use the resulting fry as food, if you really need to do this. But let's be 100% clear about this -- Morays don't need live fish and don't benefit from live fish. They hunt exclusively by smell, and are almost as blind as bats. So provided the seafood is fresh and smells good, they'll zoom in on it happily enough. Live river shrimp are a good treat, but hardly essential every day. A bag of mixed frozen seafood costs about £4 here in the UK and will last you for several months. Cheap, safe, and easy to use. What more could you want. Anyway, until you raise the salinity, you aren't likely to save this fish, so that -- along with fixing the Finrot -- is your priority. Do read Marco's excellent piece on these fish, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayart.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Gymnothorax tile 1-22-08 Thanks for the information I started the Maracyn and increased the salinity to 1.008. <Very good.> He is still not interested in food I wiggled squid on a skewer stick and then tried it on thread but I think it is because I just started the Maracyn and has not begun to heal yet what do you think? <Just give it time. Try and get some live river shrimp if you can. These are ideal food for unhappy Morays. Failing that, hunger! Don't add any more food for a few days. Use the medication. Let the fish heal. When it's ready, it'll feed. Morays are quite hardy animals, but when stressed they can lose their appetite.> <Good luck, Neale.>

 

Re: Gymnothorax tile - 1/24/08 Hi again just want to let you know that it does not look any better or worse "as far as getting bigger" except now the white lump on his back is growing little transparent looking bubbles. <The bubbles are gases from decomposition. This is now extremely serious, and likely incurable short of a trip to the vet. The fish has a systemic bacterial infection; while Maracyn (Erythromycin) might help given a couple of weeks, to be honest I suspect you will need to really to see a vet here.> The lump is not Cotton like, it looks like a mound of white skin that is raw and little bubbles are on it see pictures. Salinity 1.010, Meds: Maracyn and MarOxy temp 76. has not eaten yet I can't find river shrimp Have you seen this before? <Only on fish about to die...> Thanks <Please see a vet soon! Neale.>

Re: Gymnothorax tile  1/25/08 This sucks I can not find a vet that cares for fish with in sixty miles of my house any other possibilities? maybe up a dose or anything at all I am desperate. I feel so bad and hate to se him suffer. Troy <Nope, nothing you can do beyond finding a vet. Your fish is in such bad shape that I'd be surprised if it recovers. Keep using the Maracyn, if that doesn't help, switch to Maracyn-Two, since the two treat different bacteria. But these off-the-shelf medications might not be enough. Cheers, Neale.>

Gymnothorax tile with possible tumors 09/04/07 Hello! <Hi!> Sorry I must contact you with bad news. <No problem.> Somehow one must guess most people who have questions do. I believe that this is the fatal flaw for the moray I have made. I trusted the staff at the LFS. I've been feeding him shrimp for months and now that something has finally gone wrong have I dug into the problem. I guess stuff happens but I should have been able to prevent it with research, but the sites I could find before I ran into yours mentioned morays eating crustaceans. <They do, but not exclusively and not just one type.> I've found your website incredibly reliable as far as I can see. When I looked into the problem, I looked into diet, and disease on your site. What worries me, is that even if I correct the diet, he has what appears to be tumors on his belly, the white portion. He's in a high brackish setup for more info if you need that. <Okay, thats an important information. I hope the specific gravity is above 1.010.> Say the diet is corrected in the long term, will he be able to survive what has happened to him? <Possible, if the diet was the reason and apparent damage is reversible. Daily vitamin additions will help you to correct the diet and find out.> I'm concerned with the tumors. I doubt there is anything I will be able to do except for do my best. <Yes, a vet would be needed for a better diagnosis. What you can do is: check your nitrates. Aside nutrition this problem might be caused by an environmental issue, e.g. high nitrates or low salinity (which you probably can exclude at least for the time you had it) for a long time.> I thought it might have been an infection from the substrate, which is smooth gravel. <Improbable.> I siphoned every piece of filth I could from the gravel and did a 20% water change of his 20 gallon tall. <Okay That tank is relatively small, therefore it is well possible nitrates accumulated. You may also want to check nitrites and ammonia to see if this system is adequately filtered. Nitrates>20 and any reading of ammonia and nitrites >0 can be a problem. Youd have to do large water changes in that case (remember changing 50% will only decrease any harmful substance by 50%) and keep those parameters down as long as your fish is in this tank.> The eel is barely over a foot, and I plan on buying him a fifty gallon aquarium as soon as I can. I just noticed what happened today, and I sent this in ASAP. <Good decision.> His diet will be corrected immediately with variety <and vitamins> to ensure proper nutrition. During the tank change I took a picture of him in a holding container (plastic bowl). <I love this species.> He stirred up a lot in the time it took to catch him hence the nasty stuff in the bowl. I also disturbed a lot trying to capture him... Other than the mysterious large bumps on him *three if I remember correctly* he swims around and eats just fine. <I hope he gets well again. Some types of tumors are reversible, while others are not. Good luck and write back if further questions or comments arise. Marco.>

Gymnothorax tile with possible tumors; follow up ? 09/09/07 Hi again. I must thank you for your quick response. <No problem.> Sorry mine was not so swift. <Since you did not include our correspondence it is difficult for us to remember your problem. Dozens of e-mails arrive here every day. But I do assume you are the one who had a problem with a brackish Gymnothorax tile with possible tumors?> Shortly after sending the e-mail I contacted a friend who also keeps saltwater fish. He suggested a full water change. I did such even though I thought it was risky but I'll try anything that might benefit the eel as long as it seems rational. To keep the tank "aged" I left the old filter in so the bacteria would be reintroduced. Now I'm trying to get the eel to eat a wider variety of food. It ate more shrimp immediately just an hour afterwards. The piece of squid were ignored and are still laying on the bottom of the tank. <Take them out if they are not eaten within a few hours. You'll need some patience to train the eel. If he's a little hungry his motivation to try something new will be higher.> Mussel meat will be tried. I bought silversides from the pet store as well as krill. <Okay.> So far all he accepts is shrimp as always. With methods of keeping his body in top shape, what could I do to make the shrimp more nutritious in the meantime? I know that Walgreens sells hypodermic needles I could use to inject the shrimp with vitamins. <Can do that. You could also soak the thawed food in vitamins for about half an hour.> Also, asking around, I have lights used for regular freshwater fish. Should I get those intended to emit UVA to simulate natural sunlight? More questions asked to people I know suggest he'd need it so he could absorb calcium (I don't think they need it very badly but it seems to be a basic need for a lot of animals) and produce vitamin D to fight off cancer. <Since G. tile moray eels are predominately nocturnal in nature, I do not think the spectrum of the lights is connected to the disease of your eel. In addition, vitamin D wont be a problem for a moray, which naturally eat vitamin D rich sea food like fish and crustaceans. However, I do prefer bulbs with the most natural spectrum for my own tanks.> The eel showed a drastic increase in activity after the water change before settling down under his driftwood which is in there to simulate an estuary. <May rot in the brackish water.> Is there anything I'm doing wrong here beside the nutrition issue? <As suggested monitor the nitrates. Anything higher than 20 ppm can be a problem. What was the nitrate concentration before you did the water change? It is well possible long term nitrogenous poisoning was the source of your problem.> I suspect I am. I don't know for sure though. There is something else I wish to ask you in another e-mail. It has to do with the senior project at my school and this will be sent very shortly after this. <Okay. Be chatting. Marco.>

Re: Gymnothorax tile tumors. Malnutrition? - 10/07/2007 The eel's tumors are gone! I appreciate your advice very much. There has been a lot of success with keeping him healthy, along with some noticeable growth in size. His food has been injected with the appropriate supplements as well. The need for a new tank is growing, and I believe I could probably get him a new one in the next few months. Adding another question, I found this little packet in the LFS called "Phosphate-X" or "Phos-X." Something like that name. The description on the label says it absorbs phosphate, nitrates, and nitrites. I don't rely on this little packet about the size of a sticky-note and still perform water changes, I was only wondering if it helped. On a different matter, the eel eats about twice a week based on the information I found on your website. I used to offer krill that was accepted from time to time but read that it wasn't good for the eel and promptly stopped feeding that. Silversides have been a new favorite alongside shrimp, and squid are accepted when the eel feels like eating them. (the food is removed after a few hours as you suggested as not to pollute the water) I'd like him to live as long as possible, so I've done everything I can, and will continue to do so. The brackish water isn't rotting the wood so far, and the salinity is as you suggested. While on that, is there anything better than a regular hydrometer? Perhaps something electronic? <A hydrometer is fine for brackish water fish. Any inaccuracy will be well within the tolerances of the fish. In fact, most brackish water fish like a bit of variation from time to time. But your filter isn't quite so accommodating, so it's best not to vary the SG more than a couple of points on the SG scale at any one time (i.e., SG 1.010 to 1.012 is fine, but 1.010 to 1.018 not so much).> Another question. My Gymnothorax tile lives in high-end brackish but what is their environment like out where they live if they're from Asia? <The problem here is that they are almost certainly migratory, like most large brackish water fish. So there's no "perfect" habitat. These morays are found -- as adults -- in completely freshwater as well as in the sea, and they seem to move about between the upper and lower estuary. They're neither completely saltwater fish nor true freshwater fish, but something in between. That said, like a lot of eels, their main habitat is murky, muddy water where their ability to burrow, negotiate rubble and locate food under poor visibility conditions is useful. A typical environment would probably be sticky mud at the bottom, murky water, large rocks and waterlogged tree trunks, and rocky reefs. Hardly attractive for an aquarium!> Will any aquatic plants survive in the brackish water, and what kind of decoration should be used to make it look like Gymnothorax tile habitat? <There are brackish water plants, such as Cryptocoryne ciliata and Crinum calamistratum in the trade, as well as the very hardy Java fern that does well in brackish water, but there's little point to using them. They aren't authentic for the sorts of habitats these eels will be living in. Eels favour dark, murky places and they don't like bright light. Much better to create something with a tall, rocky reef-like structure so the eel can hide and wind itself around. These eels don't so much swim as slither through things, and the more 3D the aquarium, the better. Big mounds of holey rocks would probably work very nicely. Something like a reef tank arrangement. What you want to avoid is anything too rough and definitely nothing unstable, as these fish are quite powerful and excellent diggers. I'd personally be looking at an oyster reef habitat. These are really important environments in brackish water habitats and easy to replicate. Simply gather lots of oyster shells (easy enough to buy as food, if nothing else) and use silicone to cement them to some sort of rock, such as tufa rock.> I'm thinking that if I make it as naturalistic as possible he'll live longer than what is usually achieved in captivity. <A good approach. The reason these eels don't survive is not really a mystery. A few things seem consistent. Keeping them in too-low a salinity doesn't help, and usually leads to hunger strikes. So at least SG 1.005 is required, and probably SG 1.010 for best results. On the other hand, there's no evidence they "swim out to sea" when mature, so keeping them in saltwater tanks likely isn't required provided the salinity is at least at or above SG 1.010. Diet is another factor. With these eels, and indeed any other predatory fish, I'm a fan of the "little but often" approach. Yes, you can feed them a big prawn one day and skip the next. But the risk with predatory fish is they regurgitate the food and pollute the tank. I'd sooner give small morsels each night, so that there's no risk of major pollution. At SG 1.010 upwards you can use a protein skimmer with success. While not crucial, these devices to help manage the nitrate by removing organic waste from meaty foods before they decay. So in the long run, a skimmer can end up saving you money by reducing the frequency of water changes. Of course, you still need to aim for the same relatively low nitrate level (I'd suggest <50 mg/l) but generally morays are fairly tolerant of this. Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Gymnothorax tile tumors. Malnutrition? - 10/07/2007 The eel's tumors are gone! I appreciate your advice very much. There has been a lot of success with keeping him healthy, along with some noticeable growth in size. His food has been injected with the appropriate supplements as well. The need for a new tank is growing, and I believe I could probably get him a new one in the next few months. Adding another question, I found this little packet in the LFS called "Phosphate-X" or "Phos-X." Something like that name. The description on the label says it absorbs phosphate, nitrates, and nitrites. I don't rely on this little packet about the size of a sticky-note and still perform water changes, I was only wondering if it helped. On a different matter, the eel eats about twice a week based on the information I found on your website. I used to offer krill that was accepted from time to time but read that it wasn't good for the eel and promptly stopped feeding that. Silversides have been a new favorite alongside shrimp, and squid are accepted when the eel feels like eating them. (the food is removed after a few hours as you suggested as not to pollute the water) I'd like him to live as long as possible, so I've done everything I can, and will continue to do so. The brackish water isn't rotting the wood so far, and the salinity is as you suggested. While on that, is there anything better than a regular hydrometer? Perhaps something electronic? <A hydrometer is fine for brackish water fish. Any inaccuracy will be well within the tolerances of the fish. In fact, most brackish water fish like a bit of variation from time to time. But your filter isn't quite so accommodating, so it's best not to vary the SG more than a couple of points on the SG scale at any one time (i.e., SG 1.010 to 1.012 is fine, but 1.010 to 1.018 not so much).> Another question. My Gymnothorax tile lives in high-end brackish but what is their environment like out where they live if they're from Asia? <The problem here is that they are almost certainly migratory, like most large brackish water fish. So there's no "perfect" habitat. These morays are found -- as adults -- in completely freshwater as well as in the sea, and they seem to move about between the upper and lower estuary. They're neither completely saltwater fish nor true freshwater fish, but something in between. That said, like a lot of eels, their main habitat is murky, muddy water where their ability to burrow, negotiate rubble and locate food under poor visibility conditions is useful. A typical environment would probably be sticky mud at the bottom, murky water, large rocks and waterlogged tree trunks, and rocky reefs. Hardly attractive for an aquarium!> Will any aquatic plants survive in the brackish water, and what kind of decoration should be used to make it look like Gymnothorax tile habitat? <There are brackish water plants, such as Cryptocoryne ciliata and Crinum calamistratum in the trade, as well as the very hardy Java fern that does well in brackish water, but there's little point to using them. They aren't authentic for the sorts of habitats these eels will be living in. Eels favour dark, murky places and they don't like bright light. Much better to create something with a tall, rocky reef-like structure so the eel can hide and wind itself around. These eels don't so much swim as slither through things, and the more 3D the aquarium, the better. Big mounds of holey rocks would probably work very nicely. Something like a reef tank arrangement. What you want to avoid is anything too rough and definitely nothing unstable, as these fish are quite powerful and excellent diggers. I'd personally be looking at an oyster reef habitat. These are really important environments in brackish water habitats and easy to replicate. Simply gather lots of oyster shells (easy enough to buy as food, if nothing else) and use silicone to cement them to some sort of rock, such as tufa rock.> I'm thinking that if I make it as naturalistic as possible he'll live longer than what is usually achieved in captivity. <A good approach. The reason these eels don't survive is not really a mystery. A few things seem consistent. Keeping them in too-low a salinity doesn't help, and usually leads to hunger strikes. So at least SG 1.005 is required, and probably SG 1.010 for best results. On the other hand, there's no evidence they "swim out to sea" when mature, so keeping them in saltwater tanks likely isn't required provided the salinity is at least at or above SG 1.010. Diet is another factor. With these eels, and indeed any other predatory fish, I'm a fan of the "little but often" approach. Yes, you can feed them a big prawn one day and skip the next. But the risk with predatory fish is they regurgitate the food and pollute the tank. I'd sooner give small morsels each night, so that there's no risk of major pollution. At SG 1.010 upwards you can use a protein skimmer with success. While not crucial, these devices to help manage the nitrate by removing organic waste from meaty foods before they decay. So in the long run, a skimmer can end up saving you money by reducing the frequency of water changes. Of course, you still need to aim for the same relatively low nitrate level (I'd suggest <50 mg/l) but generally morays are fairly tolerant of this. Hope this helps, Neale>

Gymnothorax tile problems, no info on setup 07/19/07 I bought a Gymnothorax tile a little over a month ago and for the most part he stayed hidden and only out when the lights were out he would flee back to hiding when the lights came on. I have had others that acted a certain way before passing on. <Why did they die? Some information on your system would have been helpful.> This one is exhibiting similar behaviour but the red scat does not bother him like it did with the others that passed soon after acting this way (the way fish attack other fish when sick), which seems to indicate he is not in immediate poor health. I hope I am over reacting to what maybe normal but seemingly long acclimating period. He also does not swim to the top to poke his head out of the water which is probably another good sign. Can you tell from the video if the breathing he is showing is normal? <Its slightly elaborated. It can be elaborated during searching for food, too, since the moray needs to increase the water flow through its nostrils that way.> The main concern is his lack of trying to hide like he does not care anymore. <They are more or less nocturnal in nature and after acclimating will keep this schedule until trained otherwise by feeding them during day. The behaviour you observe is unusual. It seems stressed. What is your salinity (specific gravity should be 1.01 or higher? Are your nitrogenous compounds adequate (no ammonia/nitrite and nitrates below 30)? Was copper used in this system? Any metal parts, products not specifically designed for aquaria? Was this animal fed feeder fish in the store for a long time? In general this species is very hardy in brackish and marine water (I know specimens of 10+ years), so loosing one (or more) and the strange behaviour of this one indicate something is wrong with your system or care. Check especially SG and nitrogenous waste.> I have not actually seen him eat, but do not know how long they can survive with out eating. <Several weeks to a few months, but it is likely it wasnt fed adequately since getting into the trade, so that adds to the time it has not eaten proper food. Not eating is another typical sign of stress.> He maybe just out looking for food but has paid no attention to the guppies swimming near him or just decided to make his somewhat new home finally home and swimming out after accepting the change from one location to another. I was considering trying to get some bull minnows from a bait shop to see if he would eat them. I also have a toad fish that bull minnows would be better and more substantial than guppies and ghost shrimp. <I hope this fish is in a separate tank. It can sting and kill the moray.> Can you suggest some other types of live food I may try for the G. tile? <Minnows, just as goldfish generally have too much thiaminase, which can lead to a vitamin deficiency and result in damage of the nerves. Mollies and shrimps are better alternatives. They should not be too large.> Thank you, Richard. <Hope that helps to find out whats wrong with the system. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayart.htm for an article on them and feel free to write with additional information if further questions arise. Marco.>

Gymnothorax Tile - Seizures  4/5/07 I have a juvenile Gymnothorax Tile in a freshwater tank until I get my second tank set up for brackish. <Freshwater bad, brackish water good. These are brackish water fish, and perfectly happy in marine tanks. Kept thus, like most morays, they are hardy. In freshwater, they do not do so well.> I haven't noticed him eating but have been witness to the carnage that I can only assume is his (a pair of headless glass catfish). I have also been consistently putting in small minnows such as danios (which disappear quickly) and ghost shrimp (and the ghost shrimp have gone untouched and are doing quite well), but recently against my better judgment, added some goldfish minnows. <Unless you are breeding your own livebearers and gut loading them with algae, you should never, ever use feeder fish. The risks are too high and the benefits too small. These morays will eat shrimps and earthworms. They hunt by scent, and dead food is accepted once settled in: prawns, squid, whitebait, etc. Once you have trained a predator to take dead food, your hard work is over, and you can control nutrition much more easily. Moray eels commonly lose their appetite in freshwater, and a few weeks later die...> It may be unrelated, but a night or two after I noticed one of the goldfish had died at the entrance to the eel's cave and eventually disappeared, my eel started swimming around erratically, as if in a seizure. <Absolutely possible. Two problems. [a] Not in brackish water, and his blood chemistry is now messed up; and [b] feeder fish can carry all kinds of diseases. You can also add [c] thiamin-deficiency: goldfish and rosy red minnows contain a substance called thiaminase that destroys the vitamin thiamin (B1); when that goes, among the first things to be damaged are, surprise, nerves and mussels. Well known among reptile keepers, less well known (but should be) among aquarists. Say NO to goldfish and minnow feeders! Only use livebearers *you have bred yourself* and *gut loaded*.> He has been like this for a day now, twitching, darting to the surface, and lying on his back with his head twitching, then darting back to his cave. <Probably doomed unless you move to a brackish water tank immediately and then start feeding thiamin-rich foods such as mussels (contain lots of algae) and whitebait. Avoid prawns, as they also contain thiaminase. Prawns are fine cycled with mussels, whitebait, and squid but as the sole food they are not so good. Like everything in life, take from everything in moderation.> I have tried to find any information I can about this, but to no avail. <My 'Brackish Water Fishes' book contains info on this species, as does the Aqualog 'Brackish Water Fishes' book. So either of those will set you up nicely. There's also an excellent article on them on this web site, here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayart.htm > I'm hoping he will hang on until I get the brackish and marine tanks ready and come out of this epilepsy. <Don't bank on it...> His tankmates are a Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami, a Bumblebee Cichlid, an African Butterfly Fish, and apparently a group of Ghost Shrimp.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Also don't forget these fish are nocturnal, so be sure and put the food out at night.> -Jules <Cheers, Neale>

Re: Gymnothorax Tile - Seizures  4/6/07 Thank you for the quick reply.  After a water change, ammonia treatment and  removing the goldfish, the eel seems to be doing much better. <Not sure what "ammonia treatment" is.> I will be  picking up some the foods recommended immediately, and I will have a large marine tank setup in a few days as well as two 30 gal. tanks. <Good.> So, I am curious, since he has been in freshwater for a month (not considering how long he was in fresh before I brought him home), should I ease him in to salinity by using another tank, or would it be safe to immediately relocate him into my marine tank? <Brackish water fish, by their very nature, can adapt quickly to different salinities. Adapting brackish water fish from fresh to salt over about an hour works well. Put the fish in a bucket of water, and replace a bit of the water with salt water every 5-10 minutes until the bucket of water has become completely saline. Don't forget to put a lid on the bucket: these fish are notoriously good at escaping! Also, if you have an airstone, add it to the bucket to keep the oxygen levels in the water nice and high and also to circulate the water better.> Thank you again for the very helpful information. -Jules <No problems, Neale>

Freshwater eel? Not in this case? hello sir <Greetings, Brian. Anthony Calfo in your service> I recently purchased a snowflake eel and I'm getting worried about it it is pale colored and it like to lie on its side, gasping for air it seems, I have 3 African cichlids, a tiger Botia, and a blue crawfish, the eel is about 1 foot long they all live in a 20 high he hasn't looked healthy and I was wondering if you could give me your opinion of what it is I need to do. thank you for you time. Brian Dillon <Brian...your eel is most likely a brackish species. Fortunately, it's tankmates will tolerate and even appreciate some aquarium salt. Add 1 tablespoon per five gallons for starters and only replace it at that dose when you do water changes (not evaporation top off). And look for a picture on the Web (this site and www.fishbase.org) for a picture to identify the species so that we can better help you. Let us know if your eel breathers easier with the salt in the water. Also, test your water quality for any low pH, high ammonia, etc>

So-called Freshwater Snowflake eel Mr. Robert Fenner, <Anthony Calfo, in your service, my friend> I have a Snowflake Eel that's been swimming on its side erratically from one end of the tank to the other and sometimes resting upside down. I've noticed he's been breathing very rapidly, too. He's about 28" long and lives in a 65 gallon tank, along with seven 2.5" African cichlids (variety) and a 22" white cheek eel.  <the first and most likely problem with your eel is that it is suffering from the extended captivity in freshwater. These so-called "freshwater eels" are only comfortable in freshwater at best as juveniles. As they mature they migrate out to brackish water and some eventually to the sea. This is a common question and problem. The size of your eel and rapid gilling is a giveaway. Do buy a hydrometer and begin a adding sea salt slowly to bring the salinity up by .002 daily (not too fast!) until you reach at least normal brackish water of 1.010 within two weeks. Since you have Africans in the main display... I assume/hope that you are already adding a little salty, eh?> I also keep the feeder gold fish, about a dozen medium size gold fish,  <really...goldfish are an inadequate food item for crustacean feeding eels. Predators forced to feed on such deficient prey often die of complications prematurely. The aquarists often doesn't realize it because the fish seems to be "fine" eating them for a couple of years (but still doesn't reach a full lifespan). Be sure to mix up the diet with great variety of shell-on creatures (krill, plankton, shrimp, crayfish, etc)> in a floating container inside the 65 gallon tank. I changed 20% of the water last Tuesday and he's been eating 2-4 Gold Fishes every other day. I've noticed this change of behavior Saturday evening. Right now I have him isolated in a 20 gallon tank with seven small gold fish (feeder fish). He's not very responsive and tends to lay on its side, sometimes. His breathing tends to speed up at times (average about 49-50 breaths per minute) and slows down (30-32 breaths per minute). I'm a little worried about him. I've had him for about 3 years and I about him when he was 17" long.  Do you know what might be wrong? I've enclosed a picture of him in the sick tank. <yes... please add some salt promptly as prescribed above. Anthony> v/r John Black

"Freshwater" moray eel (03/11/03) Hi, my name is Nate and I've had a "freshwater" moray now for about six or seven months. <Hi -- Ananda here, seeing those quotes around "freshwater" and hoping you do indeed have it in brackish water...> He ate very vigorously for about six and a half months, now he will not eat.  I read a lot on the internet about them and their feeding habits, and it's has only been about three weeks since he last ate. <Do also check our articles/FAQs on these fish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwmorayeels.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwmorayfaqs.htm> That's not my main concern though; he now has developed white splotches on one side of his body near his tail.  The water has been tested and seemed to be completely fine.  If you have any idea or advice it would be greatly appreciated.   Thank You. <Could be a number of things. Without specific numbers for any of your water quality parameters, or more info about the tank, it's impossible to be certain what the problem is. I would do a water change on general principle, and perhaps change the tank salinity a bit. Do look for photos of ich and compare to what's on your fish. If you have ich, check the WetWebMedia site for treatment info. If it isn't ich, a photo and detailed tank and water quality stats would help us ID the problem. --Ananda>

Treating Parasites with Scaleless fishes 7/10/03 I just recently e-mailed you guys (and gals) about the feeding of a freshwater moray eel (I found this in fact, it is Gymnothorax tile).  Now, I have another problem.  My tank came down with ICH.  But, I don't want my moray to die or have a reaction to the medication I use, so which of the following would be better for me to use: QUICK Cure, Ingredients: 25% Formaldehyde, 75% Malachite Green or Maracide (ingredients: Tisaninomethane, Dibromohydroxymercurifluorescein, Aniline green)?  Or something else that I don't have? <Neither are wholly safe for this eel... it would be best to separate the eel from other fishes with a hospital tank and treat accordingly> On your website, you said that organic dyes were poisonous to morays, so is Malachite Green an organic dye?  What about Aniline green?  Is that an organic dye too? <yes to both> Thanx So much for your help, Adam <use straight Formalin in a bare-bottomed tank if you must treat the eel. Best regards, Anthony>

Re "FW" Moray growth cycles... dead    7/20/06 Thank you for your help but I have some bad news the snowflake died on me and I am assuming he died of starvation along with a possible disease. <... not uncommon... You did (finally) read on WWM re these so-called freshwater eels?> I kept track of the number of ghost shrimp and guppies accounting for X amount to be eaten by my albino and still had more than I should have had. I had a butterfly goby that lived less than 2 weeks and followed similar patterns before the final event and both had skin the same condition after death. I did not see either one eat. The goby I have now has been with me a while. <... this tank is too small... one more time> The albino is a 2nd chance for me as I bought one prior and it died but due to water quality as the aquarium was new and not enough bacteria to break down the nitrate cycle. I tested the water 2 days ago and it tested really well for very low levels of nitrite <Should be zero, zip, non-existent> and I have an ammonia sensor that has not rose above good levels. <I don't like these "sensors"... not accurate> Is there anything else I need to check for? <... read...> I am considering getting another snowflake if possible but am thinking I should wait until I have a much larger tank for the shear reason that I hear when they are moved they tend to stop eating. <Bingo> I had this albino eating within a day of getting him, at least upon visual verification. I feel comfortable with this guy to go 55 then up to larger as the albino is still small and thinner than my pinky finger and he seems so easygoing that eating will not be one of his problems. <Still... need more space> I will need 2 large tanks since the albino is brackish because I also have an ornate Bichir that is right around 2" <Wow! Tiny> now and want to get a ropefish for his tank mate and have recently moved and need to decide if the 2 large tanks will be placed together or separately. If I leave things as they are with the 3 fish in my brackish tank and 55 is good I would have them together but if I need something bigger for the albino I will have them placed in different places. I am planning on starting on getting the 1st tank on the successful sale of the old house to have money to get the best. I appreciate all your help. <Do investigate, plan before purchasing livestock... Bob Fenner>

Hi My Name is Britny I have a freshwater snow flake eel,   2/8/06 <... there isn't any such animal> I noticed that one of his gills doesn't look like it is working properly, the one side looks like it always has. working, the other side doesn't move at all. Could this be from the water condition, or do you think it is because he is sick?? Its weird he seemed to be fine then like I said I just noticed that only one was working. If you can help by giving any reason why this would happen it would be really helpful. Thanks <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayeels.htm and the Related FAQs linked at top. Bob Fenner>

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