Ghost Eel Care Guide

Pseudechidna brummeri

DifficultyMedium
Minimum Tank Size50 Gallons
DietCarnivore
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
AggressionSemi-Aggressive
Size3' 4"

Ghost Eels, otherwise known as the white ribbon eel, are long yet slender eels with a great personality. They are easier to feed than Blue Ribbon Eels but can still refuse food for weeks at a time. If you are looking for an interesting stress free fish an eel may not be right for you. If however you don’t mind putting in the extra work than an eel will really liven up your tank

Unlike most eels, the Ghost Eel stays relatively thin. This allows you to keep smaller fish with the eel without a huge risk of the eel eating them. Their slender bodies do however create an issue. These eels are masters of escaping, wriggling through tiny holes meant only for cords and swimming around intake valves. Plan on placing a strong mesh grate over everything. Otherwise this eel will find his way out.

Multiple Eels: Eels can be kept in the same tank together, however you will need ample room for them. When first introducing the eels you will need no less than 4 gallons per inch of eel. This means introducing two full sized eels requires a tank of over 200 gallons in size. Baby eels are much easier to keep together and will grow to be more comfortable around one another.

Special Tank Needs

The Ghost Eel will present several issues, which can easily be addressed by setting up the tank properly. First off these eels will spend most of their time hiding at the bottom of the tank, occasionally free swimming in the tank and poking their head above the water. This creates two different issues.

First off you will need to ensure the bottom of the tank is well oxygenated. This means the bottom must have a fairly strong upward current. This will bring new water to the bottom of the tank, bringing the oxygen obtained from the top of the tank to the eels home. This will help break the trance like state these eels often have, which makes them ignore everything in the tank including their food.

The second issue is their escape methods. Eels will naturally explore any area they can fit into. This includes any exit to the tank or entrance to the filters. Because of their large, powerful bodies, it is unlikely a filter will suck them into it, however the eel can choose to look inside the filter. This can easily cause plumbing issues, such as reduced flow to the sump. I highly advise you cover any hole you do not want the eel in.

Another issue many owners create for their eels is overbearing lights and a lack of hiding places. The Ghost Eel will almost never feed while out in the open. Likewise they much prefer to strike from dark areas in the tank. This explains why most owners who fail with eels cannot get them to eat. Attempting to feed this eel in an isolation tank, with no rocks or pipes for the eel to hide in, will always result in failure.

The final special need the Ghost Eel has is the need for other fish. When introduced to the tank, eels will be very shy and refuse to eat any foods. Even brushing live feeder fish across their face will have no effect. What you must do is skip feeding the tank for one day. This will make all the fish in the tank hungry and anxious for food. The next day you can begin a feeding frenzy by placing more than the normal amount of food into the tank all at once. This will have each fish feeding frantically, exciting the eel in the process. During this time they are far more likely to feed.

Growth Rate

The Ghost Eel will grow much faster in its early years. When purchasing a young Ghost Eel they will not be much thicker than an old phone cord. Their maximum thickness is still less than one inch, making them a much less threatening eel than any moray eel. This will also give you a great degree of freedom when setting up their homes. Using some under the sand PVC pipes, at least 1″ thick with 1.25″ being safer, creates a great and non obstructive home for the eel.

The Ghost Eel will take several months to show any increase in thickness, however they will grow one or two inches each month when in the right water conditions.

Diet & Feeding

The Ghost eel is a bit easier to feed than most ribbon eels. Additionally they have much smaller teeth, meaning thick skinned people can typically get away with feeding these eel by hand. I highly advise against feeding them by hand as they can frequently miss and bite your fingers. Instead use tongs.

Eels will generally not eat for the first few days they are added to the tank. You may drag the food in front of the eel to see if they show any interest in it, however you may just be dirtying the water as they refuse the food. Once they warm up to the tank you will need to either:

  • 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

Calamari, shrimp, mussels, silversides, crab and fish are all good choices when it comes to feeding the Ghost Eel. They are primarily crustacean hunters, making shrimp an ideal enticing food.

If your eel still refuses to eat the food you may need to simulate a second eel chasing their foods. This will invoke a competitive attitude in the eels, often making them snatch a piece of food before returning to their home

Remember the Ghost Eel will frequently eat enough food for a few days. Do not be surprised if they refuse food a day or two in a row and return to normal feeding after that. Additionally the Ghost Eel will have difficulty competing for foods and must be fed directly if they cannot get food themselves.

Aggression

Being so thin makes the Ghost Eel one of the least aggressive eels available. They will still hunt members of the clean up crew, making them difficult to keep in a reef tank. They will not however hunt mid sized fish. This means adult fish will rarely be in danger unless they are slow moving, thin or long bodied fish. Gobies and blennies are frequent targets.

Ghost Eels will frequently come out at night, as they are nocturnal predators. Additionally they may become more or less active when the pumps switch off.

Remember: The Ghost Eel is thin and long, with a flowing body. This makes them easy target s for bullies. While most eels are generally the big predator in the tank you will actually need to ensure their are no fish who will pick on the Ghost Eel. Avoid triggers, large angelfish and other larger eels

Extra Notes
  • The gender of the Ghost Eel cannot be discerned.
  • These Eels can 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.
  • Garlic soaked foods will help boost their immune system.

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