How to know if Fire Eel is eating?

Revan

Black Skirt Tetra
MFK Member
Feb 10, 2017
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Hello,

About 3 weeks ago I purchased a 6-8" Fire Eel. I am concerned because I have never seen him eat. I've provided a number of foods (listed below) but have not actually seen him consume anything.

Is there a way to determine if he is actually eating?

Food I've provided:

- frozen Blood Worms, placed inside his favorite hiding spot
- raw shrimp from grocery store, cut into slivers and placed inside his favorite hiding spot
- live Black Worms, dropped right by his favorite hiding spot, but they dispersed afterwards
- live Ghost Shrimp stocked in the tank (I've put in about 30 so far)

The tank is 125g. I typically put the food in 2-3 hours after lights out.

I appreciate any feedback you may have! Thank you!
 
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kno4te

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I think ur providing the right foods. Short of seeing it eat. I think looking at the fire eel and trying to look for weight loss. Should see some poop as well right where it's at. What are tankmates?

Could try a webcam or drop cam with night vision and see what up.
 

Revan

Black Skirt Tetra
MFK Member
Feb 10, 2017
46
10
13
I think ur providing the right foods. Short of seeing it eat. I think looking at the fire eel and trying to look for weight loss. Should see some poop as well right where it's at. What are tankmates?

Could try a webcam or drop cam with night vision and see what up.
Thanks for the feedback. Tankmates are 5 Discus, 4 dwarf Gourami, 1 Emerald Rainbowfish, 4 Denison Barbs, 3 Siamese Flying Fox, 8 Cory Cats, 8 Cardinal Tetras, 8 Lemon Tetras. All fish are juvies or near-juvies.
 

kno4te

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Definitely no need to worry about tankmates. Could be still getting used to the tank as well.
 

thefredpit

Potamotrygon
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Jul 28, 2012
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I've heard they can be hard to get to eat at that size but I was lucky with mine he loves food and I saw him eating day 3. But I would just keep an eye on his weight and possibly do the camera thing. Also make sure you stick to a routine when feeding him it will help with removing stress. My routine is switch off filters, heater, and air pump. Then flake food so the feeder fish will leave the frozen food alone, then sinking carnivore pellets to make sure the bichir is distracted, and then blood worms and I make sure all is fed in the same are every day
 

Fish Tank Travis

Redtail Catfish
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Feb 28, 2016
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I would see if you can watch him eat. When I got my two they had been eating bloodworms at the LFS and dove right into them into my tank also. Of course, when I got mine they were only fish in my tank so there was no competition.
 

Cosmic_surfer

Plecostomus
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Oct 9, 2014
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Lincoln, NE
If all else fails I would say the ghost shrimp are a sure fire winner for a starving eel. Eels love to eat shrimp and frozen foods. Recently I started dropping freeze dried tubifex worms (forgot I bought them and they been sitting for many months), and my big eel started eating those too. If you are not actively seeing them go for food when it is introduced, they may be too stressed to eat. Without seeing pictures I can only make suggestions to their habitat. Eels are a little pickier than other fish I found out early on in keeping them. They are hardy for sure (I am not arguing against this) but they do have particular needs in order for a baseline of livability. Sandy substrates are best, eels do tend to burrow. Mine did early on but once I started providing hiding places, and now that mine is in a smooth gravel substrate tank, I don't see him burrow ever. The hiding places I have added began with a large hollowed out decorative rock. Once I upgraded to a 125 and I planned my tank to have 2" pvc embedded in the background, he/she took right to those.

Spiney eels in short need places to hide. And places to call their own. They aren't necessarily territorial like cichlids can be, but they prefer to be out of sight at their leisure. That isn't to say they can't be enjoyed and watched, quite the opposite. Once the basic conditions are met, eels become quite involved with their keepers, and it is not uncommon to be able to hand feed them. Don't be afraid of their bites, it feels like you are getting rubbed by sand paper, but startling when you aren't expecting it. If you are still trying, I would run a week with low light and add in some hiding places. Once they figure those out it should be golden. You could also try introducing a floating tangle of plants, I am a big advocate for live plants since they serve two purposes, foods for some fish, and they clean the water as well. If you have a bunch of fish already it could be tricky as small starter plants would just get eaten into oblivion. Once a plant has advanced growth it does become self sustaining. The floating plants will cut down the harshness of lighting and allow for a calmer environment as well.
 
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FishBeast

Dovii
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Oct 26, 2016
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Hello,

About 3 weeks ago I purchased a 6-8" Fire Eel. I am concerned because I have never seen him eat. I've provided a number of foods (listed below) but have not actually seen him consume anything.

Is there a way to determine if he is actually eating?

Food I've provided:

- frozen Blood Worms, placed inside his favorite hiding spot
- raw shrimp from grocery store, cut into slivers and placed inside his favorite hiding spot
- live Black Worms, dropped right by his favorite hiding spot, but they dispersed afterwards
- live Ghost Shrimp stocked in the tank (I've put in about 30 so far)

The tank is 125g. I typically put the food in 2-3 hours after lights out.

I appreciate any feedback you may have! Thank you!
Does it look skinny? All of those foods are perfect... You can also add smaller red wiggler worms which they absolutely love.

I would be surprised if it weren't eating. I think 3-4 weeks would be the upper limit of not eating where you would see the belly start to hollow out. If the outline is reasonably smooth, he is probably eating. C Cosmic_surfer is right... they need lots of hiding places to peek their heads out of. Once they feel secure they become more bold (almost like Kuhli loaches)... In fact, I think fire eels are one of the most hand feed-able spiny eels. Also they are awesome to watch when they hunt ghost shrimp!
 

Revan

Black Skirt Tetra
MFK Member
Feb 10, 2017
46
10
13
He finally ate! He may have been eating before, but I just saw him actually consume something for the first time. Very happy about this.

It took live black worms, a syringe, and perfect positioning right in front of his nose...but he finally gobbled up a few worms. Picky eater it seems.

Funny thing was, after just a couple worms he turned away from the rest. Looked like he might be saying "egh I'm done. Come back later when I'm hungry again." haha
 
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