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Eels / Mastacembelidae / Fire Eel

Fire Eel
Mastacembelus erythrotaenia

SYN: Macrognathus erythrotaenia
PD: An elongated fish with a pointed snout. The body is dark brown, while the belly is light gray-brown. The pattern varies from fish to fish. Usually several bright red lateral stripes and spots mark the body. These vary in intensity depending on the age and condition of the specimen. Usually the markings are yellow with juvenile fish, changing to red in larger ones. Often the anal, pectoral, and dorsal fins have a red edging.
SIZE: To 40" (100 cm) in nature, rarely exceeds 20 (51 cm) in captivity.
SS: None
HAB: Southeast Asia; moving water with a soft riverbed in Borneo, India, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Thailand.
S: bottom
TANK: A tank measuring 36 (91 cm) with a capacity of 35 gallons (132 L) is sufficient for fish to 6" (15 cm). Larger fish require larger tanks. For tank set-up, follow suggestions for M. circumcinctus .
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (7.0), 6-20 dH (10), 75-81°F (24-27°C), a little salt is welcomed
SB: Do not keep with small fish, they will be eaten. A good candidate for a community tank with medium to large fish such as cichlids. Will often not get along with others of the same species.
FOOD: Live; Tubifex, fish, Brine Shrimp, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, Cyclops.
SEX: Only distinguishable when mature-females plumper.
B: Spawning with mature fish (over 20") has been reported. Use a large tank with a pH around 7.0, a water hardness from 10-15 dH, and a temperature from 81-84°F (27-29°C). They are plant spawners that lay 800-1200 eggs in floating plants. The eggs are clear and measure 1/20" (12-13 mm) in diameter. Feed fry small live foods, but be sure not to overfeed them, for the fry will over-consume the food and likely expire. The young grow very quickly.
BP: 9. Breeding is rare and extremely difficult.
R: Will burrow in substrate, but not as often as other Mastacembelus species. Is more prone to-parasites, injuries, and shock. The Fire Eel can become affectionate towards its owner, often taking foods from the hand.
DC: 6. This nocturnal species requires a diet including live foods.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com