Peacock Eel refuses to eat

KYeasting

Feeder Fish
Original poster
MFK Member
Dec 12, 2008
314
1
0
Tampa, FL
I've had my peacock eel (Mr. Unagi - thats what they call the freshwater eel at my local sushi bar) for about 5 months now. I know he's eating something because its still alive. I'm at my wits end with the fish though. I've only seen it eat twice. I've tried frozen blood worms and frozen brine shrimp. I've tried live ghost shrimp. Mr. Unagi has only seemed to take interest in live earthworms, but only twice have I seen him eat. His tankmates are acceptable, according to what I've read (a small brown knife, 2 medium angelfish, a skirt tetra and a medium pleco) all in a 34 gal. The temp hovers around a constant 80F. The pH is just above neutral, maybe a 7.4 the last time I checked. The water is hard to very hard. He has plenty of plants to hide amongst. I guard him when I feed him, to make sure no other fish can come near and bother him. Any ideas why this fish won't eat?
 

Phleborrhagia

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Apr 13, 2008
39
0
0
Rome, Georgia
Spiny Eels are nocturnal by nature, but as they get bigger and more used to you they'll come out of hidding more often - so he's probably just eating once the lights go off. You didn't say how big he is; once they hit the 8"-10" mark, that's pretty much when you should start feeding them live worms only (cut up pieces to start with, then whole worms once they can take those instead - I feed mine nightcrawlers and they love them), as they will soon turn their heads away from bloodworms - not that they won't eat them just that their "palettes" change, just like kids growing up, and prefer worms to larvae. If it's bigger than 5", get a piece of PVC pipe and place that in the tank for him to "hide" in - once he gets acquainted with that, he'll stay in it most of the time until the lights are off, then he'll swim freely around the tank - just make sure the diameter is comforting to the fish, not too big or too small, and replace them when they out grow them. If it's under 5" get a small ceramic pot and drill an opening in the front, as well as enlarge the drain hole at the bottom, then simply invert the pot in the aquarium and "plant" it in a little, leaving the newly made opening exposed for it to enter. Water hardness isn't really a problem with spiny eels, but if it's very hard, try softening it a bit, nothing exteme though, and see if that helps at all.
 

KYeasting

Feeder Fish
Original poster
MFK Member
Dec 12, 2008
314
1
0
Tampa, FL
He's almost 5" long. I do feed at night. In fact, I just tried feeding just now. I spent an hour with the smallest little earthworm bits wriggling in his face. Nothing. Just a worm that my knife cleaned up. I used to feed him (or try) bloodworms at night. I would put a bunch in a plastic tube and then deliver them to its face. It wouldn't pay that any mind. Now its about as thin as a ribbon.....But it was the smallest and skinniest eel at the store(now that I think about it). I will go out tomorrow first thing and pick up a small (relatively, I'm assuming) pot and fix it up. When I first picked up the eel, it spent most of its time buried, with only its nose showing. Now it will lie in the plants or even drape itself across the leaves of my plants, even in broad daylight. I hope this guy makes it, I really like the unique look of the fish!
 

Phleborrhagia

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Apr 13, 2008
39
0
0
Rome, Georgia
KYeasting;2528109; said:
He's almost 5" long. I do feed at night. In fact, I just tried feeding just now. I spent an hour with the smallest little earthworm bits wriggling in his face. Nothing. Just a worm that my knife cleaned up. I used to feed him (or try) bloodworms at night. I would put a bunch in a plastic tube and then deliver them to its face. It wouldn't pay that any mind. Now its about as thin as a ribbon.....But it was the smallest and skinniest eel at the store(now that I think about it). I will go out tomorrow first thing and pick up a small (relatively, I'm assuming) pot and fix it up. When I first picked up the eel, it spent most of its time buried, with only its nose showing. Now it will lie in the plants or even drape itself across the leaves of my plants, even in broad daylight. I hope this guy makes it, I really like the unique look of the fish!
It's normal small eel behaviour to bury itself with only their nose sticking out - the pot doesn't even have to be that big either, I use a small 2.5" high pot with a 2.5" diameter that I used a dremel to make the "doorway" and enlarged the drain hole with to start all my eels out with, then after they get use to it I add their first piece of PVC pipe so they get use to that (1" diameter to start out with - they'll usually hide behind it for quite awhile until they get confortable to going inside it...then getting them out of it is a problem ;)). Once they get bigger, they won't want to dig if they have a tube they can go into instead - and the eariler they get used to tubes, the quicker they stop digging too...for the most part, lol.

As for feeding them, I start them off with frozen bloodworms (3"-5" range), then I start to introduce small pieces of nightcrawler to them (5+" -8" range, some will eat them some won't at this stage, as frozen bloodworms are baby eels' favorite food - I have other fish in the same tank that will gladly eat them if the eel doesn't want them, so it works out for me either way), then once they take to them I keep them on nightcrawlers untill they can take whole worms (this all depends on how big their mouth is really, but usually it's at the 1' mark or a little more). I train them to eat worm pieces from a claw - that way they get use to something coming into their aquarium and taking food from it - establishing a claw=food relationship, then once a bond is formed I train them to eat from my hand (makes cleaning their aquarium a WHOLE lot easier than having to worry about them jumping out while I'm either syphoning the gravel or reburying the plants and decor they dig up). Doing this too, I can feed them this way when they don't want to come out of their tubes to eat - I joke at this as if they're saying they want roomservice. I personally stay away from the syringe/meat baster method myself, though I do know it works for some people though; but here's why, if you spray their food at them they might become frightened or more afraid than normal and the food is scattered about. Using a claw I can position their food, in whole, in front of them to encourage picky eaters to eat, while making sure that they do eat - in other words I can target feed them more precisely, and cleaner, than with blasting the food from a syringe. Once I know that they're eating fine, I can just drop food into the aquarium and they'll be all over it - though once they start taking whole worms, they'll always want roomservice instead :).
 

KYeasting

Feeder Fish
Original poster
MFK Member
Dec 12, 2008
314
1
0
Tampa, FL
Where should I pick up one of these claw-dealies? Also, should I try feeding inside the small pot, to allow it some privacy away from the other fishies (like the ABK) that will steal the food as soon as I walk away? Do you recommend a solid piece of PVC or will clear lexan tubing fly? When I feed this guy, do I need to just drop the blood worms on the ground in front of him, or should I gently wriggle the mess around in front of it? I don't mind providing roomservice, I just want my eel to live and stop looking so sickly!
 

Phleborrhagia

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Apr 13, 2008
39
0
0
Rome, Georgia
KYeasting;2528275; said:
Where should I pick up one of these claw-dealies? Also, should I try feeding inside the small pot, to allow it some privacy away from the other fishies (like the ABK) that will steal the food as soon as I walk away? Do you recommend a solid piece of PVC or will clear lexan tubing fly? When I feed this guy, do I need to just drop the blood worms on the ground in front of him, or should I gently wriggle the mess around in front of it? I don't mind providing roomservice, I just want my eel to live and stop looking so sickly!
Usually any LFS will have claws, but if your local one doesn't - try Petsmart or the like, Walmarts won't have them. They're usually in the maintenance section of the LFS. This is the one I use http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578+3728+11240&pcatid=11240 GREAT from replanting the pants that they dig up (unless they dig up the lilies, then I have to do those by hand) and also for pruning off dead leaves and stems. Forceps work as well.

Leave the food just outside of the pot, if the knife fish tries to steal it, then push some inside then.

I use solid PCV pipes from Home Depot - the kind used for plumbing, you can buy already pre-cut sections, about 2' in length, instead of buy 6' lengths. Clear tubes - like Ghost Knife tubes - will work too, but the PVC pipes are cheap (about $3-$5) and you can cut them to the length of you eel - I tend to cut them longer than my eels so that way they'll grow into them, like shoes, and they can poke there heads in without their tail sticking out (which they tend to not like) - for a 5" eel I'll put in a 6"-7" tube for them.

Just put them in front of him so it can smell them - once it takes the sent, they'll usually go after it so don't keep too tight of a grip on it. With frozen bloodworms, I don't thaw them out first, as it's easier to hold them frozen, then allowing them to thaw out once I have them in place. Once it's eating more often, you can just put the food in the aquarium and they'll actively search for it by themselves.
 

ocellatus

Dovii
MFK Member
Jan 20, 2006
844
549
100
Canada
Solid advice from Phleborrhagia.

I would only add that my eel (tire track) was also picky, and wouldn't take anything frozen or prepared, just live.

He loves eathworms, yet won't eat them with the lights on even if they land on his head or wiggle in front of his nose.

The moment it gets dark (completely black no ambient light) he cruises the tank and hunts down 4 to 5 at a time. Sometimes I watch him with a penlight and am amazed with the enthusiasm with which he wolfes them down.

Have you tried feeding him a few live earthworms right at lights out? They last for ages underwater, and the movement / small should bring out his hunting instinct.

O
 

killerfish

Fire Eel
MFK Member
Jan 30, 2007
6,069
3
62
colorado
Peacocks can be very fussy eaters mine would only eat red wigglers and nightcrawlers they have very small mouths so red wigglers are eazier to feed them

Mine ate we'll for a little while then would only eat earth worms then stoped eating all together and died :( best of luck to you some times spiny eels just stop eating
 

KYeasting

Feeder Fish
Original poster
MFK Member
Dec 12, 2008
314
1
0
Tampa, FL
I always feed with all lights out. The only light on in the tank is a single moonlight. I've tried dropping multiple bits of wiggling red wigglers down to him and it won't eat. It ate once in an isolation tank and once back in the big tank. I'm adding a nice little hiding spot (an orchid pot with slots cut in it where the eel can do eel stuff) for the critter. Hopefully this is the change it needs to feel more comfortable.
 
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