Freshwater eels are almost a misnomer in their entirety. The real eels are specialized fish with a very complex cycle of the order Anguilliformes. Real eels cannot be found in the freshwater throughout their lives since every species usually return to the ocean at some point. There is, however, some exception in this guide, but even these rare freshwater eels are brackish water fish that are tolerant to freshwater. These fish species have long eel-like bodies and similar bottom-dwelling behaviors.

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The freshwater eels are generally carnivores that are not so demanding in terms of the quality of water. They can do well in a ph. range of between 6.5 to 7.5 with an average temperature of between 72 to 82 degrees F.  These fish loves jumping and escaping from the aquarium, and therefore the main thing you should put into consideration for keeping the freshwater eels is to ensure that the tank lid does not have spaces and it is tight-fitting. Also, most of these species are larger in size, and therefore, they create copious amounts of waste, which makes it important to have a good filtration system.

 All the freshwater eels can be kept in a community tank with other fish, with the exception of the electric eel. The tank mates should also be of bigger size, just like the eels, to avoid being eaten. As a result of their big size, the eels need a spacious tank, and sometimes, they can become aggressive towards other species. As a result of this, the eels do not make an ideal choice for beginners.



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This species is scientifically known as electrophorus electricus. The Electric eels are popular as a result of their high voltage and low amperage shocks. This eel uses a special type of muscles along their bodies to store electricity which is similar to the way a row of batteries powers a flashlight. This shock produced by this species can rarely kill, but it is so painful. Most of these fish species do not only produce this electric shock, but they also have the ability to detect them too. Every living thing, including the human being, usually creates electric pulses through muscular and nerve functions. There are some small pores known as electroreceptors that line the entire body of this species.

These species being the native of the Amazonian, shallow the electroreceptors in them to help the eel in its personal electric fields as it navigates blindly in the muddy waters. This species cannot be threatened by even dangerous predators such as piranha and caimans. In the aquarium, you do not only need to pay close attention to just the electric shock ability of this eel but also their quirks. This eel species get 80 percent of its oxygen from the air taking loud after every ten minutes. This makes the flow of air good and a bit of space between the hood and water surface essential.

This fish species is a scavenger that can eat anything that fits in its mouth, including small amphibians and mammals. As a result of the electrical discharge in this eel species, they can only be kept alone since the discharger can kill even the larger fish that cannot be eaten by this eel. This species is extremely territorial, and this is another reason to keep them alone. Unlike the rest of the freshwater eels, this species is too slow and large to jump and escape from the tank.

The electric eel has an average size of 6 feet in length, and they need a tank that is about 250 gallons in size. They are generally aggressive, and the average price of acquiring a small one is approximately 100 dollars and 1000 dollars for an adult.


The Pink Paddle Tail, also referred to as the purple spaghetti eel, is among the true eels on the list. It is scientifically known as Moringa raitaborua. This species originates from southeast Asia, and they are commonly found living in brackish water homes when they are all grown, and during the spawning period, they move to freshwater. It is always advisable to add some salt for their species up the brackish levels. The average size of this species is 18 inches in length and can comfortably live in a 30 gallons tank. They are generally peaceful species that are rare among the fish keepers. The average cost of buying one is between 20 to 60 dollars.

This freshwater eel is very thin for its length, and it has an attractive pink to light purple hue. This fish species is a carnivore in nature, but it has a small head that is not a threat to tank mates that are well and carefully selected. This fish can co-exist in the same aquarium with the species such as gourami, barbs, and other deep-bodied fish. However, small fish species such as the tetras and livebearers can be eaten.

This species is very shy, and this explains why they need a fine substrate where they will bury themselves completely, and only comes out to hunt at night for worms and other small invertebrates. Instead of using sand, you can alternatively use small caves and grottos.


The Tire Track Eel, scientifically known as mastacembelus favus, is a freshwater eel that originates from South East Asia. This species is fairly common in the aquarium trade. This fish belongs to the family Mastacembelidae which are usually large fish attaining a length of up to 3 feet. Due to their size, this species can comfortably live in at least 125 gallons of tank. This species is generally peaceful, and the average cost of this fish is 20 dollars for a 6 inches juvenile.

During the day, this eel species prefers to stay hidden in caves and will even bury themselves in the sand or gravel. This means that the tank should have a substrate, and it should be fine. The ideal choice of substrate is fine sand since it is easier to dig and will not damage the smooth skin of the tire track eel. At night this species will search the bottom of the tank using their sensitive snouts for worms, invertebrates, and small fish. This species will still learn to feed during the day, but they have a strong nocturnal tendency and will be more active when the light levels are low.

This species can feed on foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimps, and tubifex worms when they are raw and live items. Despite the fact that the Tire Track Eel is an opportunistic predator that is peaceful towards any fish that they cannot be able to eat, and they are larger for community tanks.


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The Rope Fish, scientifically known as Erpertoichths calabaricus, is a freshwater eel that originates from West and Central Africa. This species belongs to the family Bichir (Polypteridae). They are also sold as Reed fish or snakefish in the aquarium trade. Just like their cousins Bichir, this species has some primitive lungs that aid them in surviving in their natural home, which is the stagnant water. This species needs to have access to fresh air every 10 minutes or so, but otherwise, they will spend their time along the bottom and midwater as they hunt for prey.

This species is an opportunist carnivore, and therefore they should be fed on fresh and thawed invertebrates such as worms, ghost shrimps, and guppies. The Rope fish is generally peaceful, especially to the things that they cannot eat, and are striking, unusual inhabitants of the community tank. When it comes to jumping and escaping from the tank, this species is the worst of them. As a result of their serpentine motion and air-breathing ability, this species can naturally travel between shallow pools with ease. In the tank having this species, it is important to use a tight-fitting lid with no holes since the fish will constantly search for ways out at night.


The Asian Swap Eel, scientifically known as Monopterus album, is a freshwater eel that originates from South and East Asia. This species is hardy and will feed on anything given to them, and it is among the few types of eels that will take prepared food such as pellets and flakes. This species grows to an average size of 30 inches in length as an adult, and the average size of the tank that can comfortably host this species is 30 gallons. They are peaceful among other species in the tank, and they are locally available ta an average price of 10 dollars.

If this species gets loose, they become problematic. This fish is cheap and readily available for imports due to the fact that they are raised for food by thousands of Asians. However, the Asian Swap Eel has been naturalized in the United States, including in Georgia and Florida. This species has very few to no natural predators in the United States, and they disrupt the ecosystem with their high appetite. This species is not a true freshwater eel, but it can tolerate a wide range of environments. When the conditions get bad in the natural environment, they simply slither their way to the pond.

 During the drought season, this species usually burrows themselves deep in the wet mud and will hibernate there until the dry season comes to an end. This gives them the opportunity to easily out-compete and spread, pushing out the natives.


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The African Lungfish, scientifically known as Protopterus annectens, is a freshwater fish that originates from West Africa. The average size of this species is 6 feet when fully grown, and due to their size, they need large size of about 250 gallons and above. They are generally peaceful, and they are available for sale at an average cost of between 60 to 200 dollars for the juvenile. This species has some other three cousins that are occasionally available. They include; marbled lungfish, gilled lungfish, and slender lungfish. All these four species are sold and classified in the market under the name African Lungfish, but they are all unique from each other.

This species is usually 6 to 8 inches in length when they are juvenile, with a leaf-like tail and a thread-like anal and pectoral fins. This species is slow-moving, and the adults will spend hours without moving, blinking, and barely seeming to even breathe. At a young age, this species mainly relies on the gills as the source of oxygen, but as adults, they mainly rely on their lungs to breathe. This species is carnivorous in nature, and they have a large mouth that they use as a vacuum to inhale even fast-moving fish.

Adult African lungfish should be fed every few days instead of every day. This species can survive for up to 3 and a half years without eating. This species will bury themselves in the mud during drought and hibernate until the rains return.


Fire Eel, scientifically known as the Mastacembelus erythrotaenia, is one of the longest freshwater eels. In the wild, this species can grow up to a length of 3 feet, but in the aquarium, they grow to an average size of 24 to 30 inches. Due to their size, they need a tank with a minimum size of 125 gallons. They are generally peaceful and therefore can co-exist with other species in the same tank. The average cost is about 30 dollars for a juvenile that is around 6 inches in size.

The cost of buying this type of eel is a bit expensive due to their striking red, black and yellow patterning. This species is also so uncommon compared to the rest of the species. This species has a great personality, and they can easily be trained to take food from their fingers, and a few even allow and seem to enjoy being gently stroked underwater. The Fire eels are generally hardy fish that are easy to take care of as long as the living condition, which is the tank and water, are of good quality. The tank should also have some hiding spots for this fish. The tank should be spacious enough, and the diet should be meaty.


The Rubber Eel, scientifically known as Typhlonectes natans, is also one of the freshwater eels. This species grows to an average size of 18 inches in length when fully grown. They need a spacious tank to live comfortably, and the ideal size of the tank should at least be 20 gallons. They are generally peaceful and can co-exist with other species without bothering them. The average cost of acquiring one is about 40 dollars.

It is a true evolutionally relic as it is actually an amphibian with fish-like features. They are caecilians and are cousins to the toads, frogs, and salamanders. The caecilians are shy species that live underground, in caves and other places where the sunlight is rare. This species is an air breather, and it has lungs. However, most of their oxygen needs usually come directly from water columns since they also breathe through their skin, and this makes well-oxygenated water important for their health.

Just like most of the Eels, this species is a carnivore in nature, and they will mainly feed on fresh meat, worms, and other small fish. If they are kept in pairs in the aquarium and are well-fed, this species will easily breed. The females are slightly thicker than the males with a lumpy growth in their whole body. The pregnancy of the rubber eel takes approximately 220 days and will give birth to a maximum of 7 young ones.


The Kuhli Loach is the smallest freshwater eel that you can have in your home aquarium. The average size of this species is about 4 inches, and this makes them an ideal choice for keepers who want an eel pet but have a small space. However, they are schooling eels, and they love staying in groups of at least three or more. This means that for a group of about six eels, you will need a tank of about 120 gallons and above to comfortably accommodate them. However, alone kuhli loach needs a 20 gallons tank.

This fish does not enjoy the company of other species, and therefore it is not advisable to put them in a community tank. They are peaceful, and therefore this means they will not bother the other species, but they might spend most of their time hiding. Also, being very small fish, they might get eaten by the bigger species. This, therefore, mean that putting them in the same tank with the other bigger species poses a great threat to the Kuhli Loach.

This eel species also loves burrowing in the soft sand substrate. Also, they need to live in a decorated tank that has vegetation, caves, rocks, and driftwoods, among other hiding spots. This species does not need a lot of effort to take care of. The aquarium water should have an average temperature of between 76 to 86 degrees F. The ph. level should be between 5.5 to 6.5, and the water hardness level should be between 5 to 10 DGH.


The Peacock Eel is a fairly small freshwater eel compared to most the other eels. This eel usually grows to an average size of 12 inches in length. To live comfortably in the aquarium, they need a space of at least 55 gallons. This species is very peaceful and will easily get along with other eel species and fish species, and this makes them ideal for a community tank. The 55 gallons tank is meant for every eel, and therefore, if you decide to have multiple of them in the same tank, you need to provide more space. This species is peaceful, and they should be provided with ample living space.

Just like the rest of the eels, this species loves to have sand or fine gravel as substrate so that they can bury themselves. The tank should also be decorated with rocks, Plants, caves, pipes, and other equipment so that they can have plenty o hiding spots. During their first months in their new home, this species can be very shy, and therefore you will rarely see them unless you get a glimpse of them at night. Bearing in mind the small size of this species, if you are keeping them in a community tank, you should ensure that it is very spacious so as to protect this species from getting eaten and attacked by other species that might be a bit bigger.

The ideal tank mates should also not be too small to the point they can fit in the mouth of this species. The aquarium water for this species should have an average temperature of between 73 to 80 degrees F with an average ph. of between 6.5 to 8. The water hardness should range from 5 to 15 DGH. If you are planning to keep these eels together, ensure that they are of a younger age since their dominance and behavior will be determined by their size.


The Zig Zag Eel is a freshwater eel that grows to an average size of 36 inches in the wild. In the aquarium, this species will grow to an average size of 24 inches in length. However, despite their size, they will still need a large and spacious tank of about at least 150 gallons. This means that if you are planning to keep this eel as your pet, you need to have enough space in your home. This species also has a long lifespan of about 20 years if well taken care of, and this implies that you need to be ready for a long-term commitment. You can keep them in the same tank with other smaller species, but if they are of small size such that they can fit in the mouth, they will be eaten.

The Zigzag eel is a very active carnivorous predator that enjoys hunting during the night. Just like the rest of the eels, they like burrowing, and therefore you should provide a substrate of very fine gravel and sand. This fish is a bit aggressive, and therefore you should avoid putting it together with other bottom dwellers. Also, to reduce the chances of fight in the tank, ensure that you decorate the tank with plants, caves, rocks, and things like the PVC pipes so as to provide plenty of hiding places. This helps them create their own territory.

This species is also required to live in the aquarium water with an average temperature of between 73 to 82 degrees F with a ph—level of between 6.5 and 8. The water hardness should be between 5 to 15 DGH. It is advisable to use a strong filter that creates a fair amount of water movement and something that will help in oxygenating water.


The Half-Banded Spiny Eel is a small freshwater eel that is ideal for the home aquarium. In terms of size, their species grows to an average length of 8 inches, and this makes them a good option for moderate size tanks. If you have one eel that you want to keep, you need to provide at least 50 gallons tank for the fish to live happily and comfortably. This species is among the most outgoing, friendly, and peaceful eel you will find.

 They are very active swimmers that love to explore the tanks and even hang out with the other tank mates. This species is peaceful and will never bother the other species in the tank, and this makes them ideal for the community tank. However, you should avoid putting them in the same tank with small fish since they will end up eating them. Just like the rest of the eels, the Half-Banded Eel loves burrowing in the substrate, and therefore you need to provide the fine sand as a substrate. This fish has a behavior of uprooting plants in the tank, and therefore it becomes very difficult to keep plants in the tank. Therefore, it is advisable to use floating plants.

Ensure that their aquarium is well decorated with plenty of plants, caves, rocks, and other items so as to provide enough hiding spots. The water temperature should range from 73 to 82 degrees F with an average ph. of between 6.5 to 8. The water hardness level should range from 5 to 15 dGH. Compared to most the eels that are long-living, this species has a short lifespan of between 7 to 10 years. You also need to provide them with a strong filtration system in the tank.


The black-spotted is an excellent freshwater eel that is easy to keep and transfer from one point to the other, and they are the most ideal for beginners. They have along with a lifespan of between 8 to 18 years, and this depends on the level of care you will provide them. With an excellent diet and living conditions, they can sometimes outlive this limit. This species got its name from its blackheads. They are found throughout this eel in horizontal lines. The smaller eels have fewer spots but are larger than those in the larger eels.

 This species is peaceful and friendly to other species and will rarely bother them, but they are also very shy. Ensure that you provide plenty of hiding spots in the tank, such as plants, caves, and rocks, among others, so that they can hide whenever they are shy.


The American Eel is one of the freshwater eels that is found in the American waters and in the aquariums in America. They are very affordable, and you will find them in your local pet store or online stores. This species grows to an average size of 5 feet, and this means that you cannot be able to keep them unless you have plenty of space. Being so larger species, they do not make attractive pets for the aquarium after all.


Eels are a bit different from the fish, and therefore you need to be very careful when choosing an eel for a pet. You need to take time and have no rush. They can make a great addition to your aquarium, and they can also become the center of attraction in your aquarium. Therefore, this guide has given a wide range of options to consider when choosing the right eel for your aquarium and some of the factors to consider. It is our hope that the information given in this guide has been impactful, and you will be able to choose the right eel for your home aquarium.

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