Tessalata Eel Care Guide

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Minimum Tank Size180 Gallons
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025

Tessalata Eel are rare fish in aquariums, not because of their difficulty but because of their size. Coming in at no less than 5′ when mature, these eels demand a tank made specifically for them. Attempting to house them with other fish can work for sometime, however these eels will eat just about anything that tries to live with them. Be ready to have a tess only tank.

Despite the anger issues these guys are not too difficult to keep. Simply feed them enough food and keep the water parameters at good levels.

Remember the Tessalata Eel is huge and strong. You will need a tight, secured lid that cannot simply be pushed off. Many eels have died by knocking weak hoods off and jumping from their tanks. Thankfully eels can live for a few hours out of water. Return the eel to the tank as quickly as possible while staying safe. The eel will be panicking and may be dangerous.

If you are ready to have an eel only tank, occasionally stocked with feeder fish at best, the Tessalata eel may be for you. If not there are plenty of other great eels who get along just fine with fish.

Special Tank Needs

Eel tanks are always set up differently than normal aquariums. The lid should be held in place, all holes should be covered with a mesh netting that the eel cannot break and the live rock should form multiple caverns for them to duck and slither through.

The first thing these eels will do when released into a new tank is seek out their new homes. Their large bodies simply do not fit in PVC piping so they are out of the question. Even if you purchase the eel small enough for PVC this runs the risk of your eel getting stuck later in its life. Instead only use rocks, which should be secured together using aquarium safe epoxy.

Eels love to spend all day in their hideout, looking around the tank. This will often be near the bottom of the tank. This means you will need to bring fresh, oxygenated water down form the surface to the eels level. This is easily done with a low placed power head facing upwards. As it pushes water to the surface new water must move downwards to replace it.

Unlike many other eels, the Tessalata Eel will frequently leave its body exposed and swim around the tank. Being in light does not seem to bother them as much as other eels, however they dos till prefer a dark home.

Huge note:Eels will almost never eat in an isolation tank. Furthermore the Tessalata Eel is simply too big for most owners isolation tanks and should be placed directly into the display tank. As the tank is almost doomed to be a tess only tank the display can be treated as an isolation tank. If the tank is hooked up to other tanks you can stop the connections to create a large isolation tank while keeping your other tanks separate.

Diet & Feeding

Feeding the Tessalata eel when it first arrives can be a bit challenging, however once they start eating caring for them is relatively easy. These are my go to steps for getting an eel to start feeding

  • Hold frozen foods in front of the eel, allowing him to smell the food
  • Start a feeding frenzy to entice the eel
  • Release live foods into the tank

The second option is less common for this eel, as many will not have tank mates. If you are keeping other fish with the tess you can with hold food for a day and feed heavily the next. This will almost guarantee a frenzy which will excite the eel into eating.

While feeding the Tessalata Eel may accidentally bite other fish. They will not typically eat other tank mates while feeding, and instead hunt them during the night.

These eel eat large foods and make a big mess doing so. Likewise they produce a lot of waste. Powerful filtration will be required.

Common choices for food are calamari, shrimp, live/frozen fish and mussels. Remember to feed your eel a fair amount of whole foods, as their diet includes bones and organs rather than just meat. Additionally a varied diet will make the eel stay healthier.


These eels are ironically not that aggressive, however their size makes it so they can eat just about any fish. That being said owners should keep the eel well fed and avoid putting their hands in the tank without knowing where the eel is. Their teeth are quite long and can create deep cuts that require medical attention ASAP.

For more general information on eels, check out my page on what eels eat.

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