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Fire eel

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Fish Disease Tips: Turn off the protein skimmer in saltwater fish tanks while medicating because it can skim off certain medicines.

Contents of this page belong to The fire eel (Mastacembelus erythrotaenia) is a large freshwater fish found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The fire eel is an extremely elongated fish with a distinctive pointed snout and underslung mouth. The body is laterally compressed particularly at the rear third where it flattens as it joins the caudal fin and forms an extended tail. They are part of a group of fish called spiny eels that also includes Tire Track and Peacock eels. They get this name from the many small dorsal spines that precede the dorsal fin. Its colouring is dark brown/grey, while the belly is generally a lighter shade of the same colour. 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/amber in juvenile fish, changing to a deep red in larger ones. Often the anal, pectoral, and dorsal fins have a red edging.

The name “eel” is a reference to the body shape; the fire eel is not a true eel.

They can often grow to a very considerable size in the wild with specimens often exceeding 1.2 m in length. However, due to the limiting factors in the captive environment they usually reach a maximum of around 55 cm even in very large aquaria.

Fire eels natural habitat is slow moving river environments with slow to briskly moving water and soft riverbeds. They occur in the wild over a relatively broad area covering a large part of Southeast Asia including Borneo, India, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and Thailand. These are bottom dwelling fish which spend the large portion of their time buried in the riverbed, often with just their snout sticking out. However, they are voracious predatory fish and when hunting will employ all water levels in their search for food.

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