Minimum Tank Size 60+ Gallons
Water Parameters 72-78° F, pH 8.2-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
Size Up To 2'
Blue Ribbon Eels are beautiful, long thin eels that can easily bring life to an aquarium. Their bright colors, unique mouths and yellow stripe draw the eyes of any on looker, while their constantly moving mouths creates the eel look we want for our tanks. Finally their extended nostrils expand much further than most eels, taking on a similar appearance to feather duster worms, creating a truly one of a kind looking eel.
The Blue Ribbon Eel is also one of the more difficult to care for eels. They have thin bodies and can escape from almost any tank. Their homes require either strong mesh coverings over every possible exit or to be sealed off entirely. This includes siphons, filters, skimmers and overflows. If it has an opening the eel will investigate.
Keep in mind that the Blue Ribbon Eel is also an incredible jumper with surprising accuracy. Simply keeping a low water level will not prevent this eels escape.
Due to their smaller size many aquarists favor this eel, as they are less likely to prey on tank mates. When selecting your eel you will want to either see if they eat(while in person at the store) or view their capture methods(when ordering online). Avoid ordering an eel caught using cyanide, as they will almost never last to two years, even if they behave normally.
Special Tank Needs
Keeping a Blue Ribbon Eel presents several unique challenges, most of which can be overcome during tank set up.
Once released into the tank, the Blue Ribbon Eel will look for its home, frequently choosing a place in which it can both watch the tank and hide its long body. These two traits are essential to a stress free, low aggression eel. Many owners, including myself, choose to set up a series of PVC tubes below the sand bed. This gives your eel an easy to use, strong and safe home. Because the eel is so thin you will only need 1″ pipes, however I used 1 1/4″ to give them a bit of extra room.
Because they will be spending most of their time at the bottom of the tank you will need to ensure oxygen reaches them. This is done by creating a high amount of water flow from the bottom of the tank to the top. Water becomes oxygenated by being in contact with the oxygen above the tank. By pulling water from the bottom of the tank to the top we also bring fresh, oxygenated water to the bottom of the tank.
Next up is the lighting. While the Blue Ribbon Eel is not allergic to high levels of lighting, they do prefer to hide their presence. This means they must have dark sections of the tank where they can retreat. Providing these areas creates a safe zone in the eels mind, allowing them to explore the tank more freely. Should anything startle the eel they can simply dash back into the dark.
Huge note: When first bringing the eel home, as with any fish, you will want to place them in an isolation tank before placing them into the main tank. This creates an issue where the eel cannot hide his body and is exposed. On the other hand adding rocks to an isolation tank often makes it too cramped for the eel, stressing them out. In both of these cases it will be difficult to feed the eel. Not because they are hard to reach, but simply because they will not eat under these circumstances. Instead many Eel owners simply add their eel straight into the tank. Doing this allows them to get settled in right away and begin eating. Doing this gives your eel a much better chance for survival.
Finally the Blue Ribbon Eel is much more likely to eat when other fish are eating frantically. This means tanks with less common but heavier feedings will help entice the eel into eating.
Diet & Feeding
The Blue Ribbon Eel is not too difficult to feed a second time, but the first time can prove to be quite a challenge. Eels have extremely poor eyesight and instead rely on smell to find their food. This means the moment food enter the tank they’re aware of it. Some owners will have brave eels who begin feeding right away, leaving their caves to grab a mouth full. For the rest of us here are a few simple options:
- Start a feeding frenzy to entice the eel
- Hold frozen foods in front of the eel, allowing him to smell the food
- Or release live foods into the tank
When stocking my Eel simply withholding food for a day before starting a feeding frenzy was enough to draw him out. While he did not eat a lot, it made him more comfortable in the tank. After they start feeding you can simply hold frozen foods in front of them. Generally the eel will strike at the food in a matter of seconds. Remember to use some sort of feeding stick, otherwise you may be bitten yourself. Small feeding sticks work best for this eel, as a larger stick may look in their poor eyesight like another eel. As the Blue Ribbon Eel is much smaller than most eels they will not rise to this competition and will wait for the next feeding.
Note how the eels will accept the food, however when the stick moves they are still afraid of it. Keep in mind these eels are likely larger than a new eel will be, and therefore more brave. Instead use a small stick, such as a meat skewer.
Eels will prefer crustaceans with calamari, shrimp, mussels, fish and frozen silversides being good food choices as well. Remember eels eat their meals whole, bones and all. Try to incorporate whole foods into your eels diet while keeping it as varied as possible.
The Blue Ribbon Eel is much smaller than most eels, and presents very little threat towards other fish. They will eat fish that can fit in their mouths, however most fish will become larger than a blue ribbons mouth. Simply house the eel with older fish to prevent any unwanted losses.
Instead of worrying for their tank mates, ensure that you do not have fish who will bully the Blue Ribbon Eel. Their long bodies make for easy targets and they are much smaller than other eels. While some aquarists will include them with other eels I shy away from these. I like my eels too much to run the risk, but it is possible to keep them together with other larger eels.
The Blue Ribbon Eel is easy to sex, as males are the standard blue/yellow colors while females are green/yellow. Juvenile males will be a black body, yellow stripe combination. These are typically the easiest to acclimate into new tanks and will frequently accept feedings much more easily than females. If you get the choice always go with a young male eel. Even mature males are more difficult to start feeding, giving a lower success rate to an already difficult fish.
- Eels can frequently survive for 12 hours out of water. Never give up on the eels until they have died. Chances are they will bounce back.
- These Eels are reef safe. however they will hunt new members of the clean up crew and occasionally old ones.
- Garlic soaked foods will help boost their immune system.