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Any eel experts out there? Please help!

Joined
Apr 15, 2019
Location
Houston
#1
We have had a dragon eel for ~4 months, and it is acting normal except for not eating well. He is 18 inches long.

Everything I read online is that they can go weeks without food - especially when put in a new environment - but I have only seen him eat <10 times. He was getting only live bait fish in his prior home, but we can't take that risk since we have a fish-only tank with a bunch of tank mates, and live food for the eel could bring disease into the tank. We have tried salmon, snapper, octopus, shrimp, squid from HEB... really all the foods they recommend online.

Does anyone have any suggestions on getting him to eat? We are thinking of taking him out and getting him used to "not live" food in another tank by himself.

For some background, we have always wanted a saltwater tank and are new to the hobby. We recently installed a first fish-only aquarium with mostly tangs, a few anthias & chromis, and also a few randoms (puffer, squirrel, harlequin tusk, rabbit). We tried a couple parrot fish and a few wrasse that didn't make it... likely bc of the puffer or the dragon eel! We love the hobby and look forward to learning a lot more about it!

Thanks!

IMG_4380.jpg
 

Luman01

Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2017
Location
Richmond
#2
That is one heck of a eel to get as a beginner in the hobby! The main reason why people say that they are expert fish is how hard they are to get to eat. Most newbies who want eels go with a snowflake or a tesslata. They are much easier to get to eat. If you can get it to eat it’s gonna pretty awesome. But from what it sounds you can’t really force it to eat so just offer it food all types. And time will tell.
 

Cody

Director
Board Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Location
The Woodlands, TX
#3
We have had a dragon eel for ~4 months, and it is acting normal except for not eating well. He is 18 inches long.

Everything I read online is that they can go weeks without food - especially when put in a new environment - but I have only seen him eat <10 times. He was getting only live bait fish in his prior home, but we can't take that risk since we have a fish-only tank with a bunch of tank mates, and live food for the eel could bring disease into the tank. We have tried salmon, snapper, octopus, shrimp, squid from HEB... really all the foods they recommend online.

Does anyone have any suggestions on getting him to eat? We are thinking of taking him out and getting him used to "not live" food in another tank by himself.

For some background, we have always wanted a saltwater tank and are new to the hobby. We recently installed a first fish-only aquarium with mostly tangs, a few anthias & chromis, and also a few randoms (puffer, squirrel, harlequin tusk, rabbit). We tried a couple parrot fish and a few wrasse that didn't make it... likely bc of the puffer or the dragon eel! We love the hobby and look forward to learning a lot more about it!

Thanks!

View attachment 16847
Beautiful looking eel. I'm not terribly knowledgeable of eels, but I know that there are freshwater fish that can withstand saltwater. Perhaps some mollies. I believe their diseases are suited for freshwater and wouldn't effect your saltwater tank. However, I know ich exists in both fresh and salt water. Not sure if it's the same kind.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2008
Location
Sarnia, Ontario
#4
I had a snow flake eel they have to be fed every day from what I can gather so will probably never get another. I think I fed his frozen shrimp.. Anyways I had him for a few years. One day I had my music a bit louder than usual and next think ya know he is dead. .
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2019
Location
Houston
#5
That is one heck of a eel to get as a beginner in the hobby! The main reason why people say that they are expert fish is how hard they are to get to eat. Most newbies who want eels go with a snowflake or a tesslata. They are much easier to get to eat. If you can get it to eat it’s gonna pretty awesome. But from what it sounds you can’t really force it to eat so just offer it food all types. And time will tell.
Thanks Luman & Cody! Appreciate the help. He has eaten fresh salmon strips several times, so I'm hoping when he is hungry enough he will keep eating... but may need to get him in his own tank to ween off live food for a while. I may try some mollies or similar as well. We'll see how it goes - fingers crossed! Thanks again.
 

Luman01

Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2017
Location
Richmond
#6
If you try the mollies, make sure you do a very slow drip for about 4hrs. You really want to check the salinity every hr till it matches your tanks salinity.
 

Bullitt519

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Location
Cypress
#7
Try feeding with the lights out. I would try Squid, Shrimp, Crab, or Silversides. Try feeding with tongs and getting it close to the mouth. Eels don't see well and mostly go by sent and motion from what I know. When I had a snowflake he used to know when it was feeding time. Although snowflakes are some of the easiest to care for.
 

webster1234

Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2012
Location
Pearland
#9
I had a friend that had two of them. He would take thawed whole fish like shad or minnows (not sure what kind of fish he was using, but it was the whole fish that came frozen). He would hold it by the tail with long tweezers and wiggle it in front of the eel, making the fish look like it was alive. That's the only way his would eat, and I would consider him an expert aquarist. These are definitely an "expert only" fish.
 

Bullitt519

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Location
Cypress
#10
I had a friend that had two of them. He would take thawed whole fish like shad or minnows (not sure what kind of fish he was using, but it was the whole fish that came frozen). He would hold it by the tail with long tweezers and wiggle it in front of the eel, making the fish look like it was alive. That's the only way his would eat, and I would consider him an expert aquarist. These are definitely an "expert only" fish.
This is how I would feed mine. He would always miss because of his eyesight. haha
 
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