The fire eel (Mastacembelus erythrotaenia) is a large freshwater eel found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Fire Eel is part of the Mastacembelidae family, also referred to as the Spiny Eel family. Members of this family are not true eels. They are elongated, tropical, freshwater fish that have numerous spines preceding the dorsal fin. The fire eel can grow to a considerable size in the wild with specimens often exceeding 1.2 meters (3.9 ft) in length. However, due to limiting factors in the captive environment they usually reach a maximum of around 55 centimeters (22 in), even in very large aquaria.
Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Water Conditions: 24-28°C or 75-82° F , pH 6.0-7.2
The Fire Eel is a nighttime predatory fish. Best suited for a larger aquarium, a soft substrate is necessary for this fish. The Fire Eel will often dig in the base and hide; this may uproot plants and rearrange decorations. A tight lid should be used for any long, slender fish, as they will often try to escape from the aquarium. Fire eels typically enjoy hiding during the day, so the tank should be dimly lit and offer plenty of hiding spaces in the form of large chunks of driftwood or PVC pipes. The Fire Eel should be kept with fish of similar size or larger, and will not tolerate its own kind.
A carnivore, live foods such as earthworms and black worms should be fed to the Fire Eel. Fire Eel also will eat fish small enough to fit into its mouth, so choose tankmates wisely. Will also take insect larvae, beef heart, and prawns. Prepared tablet foods as well as krill and ocean plankton may eventually be accepted.
Fire eels are generally peaceful towards tank mates, although they may be aggressive towards conspecifics. Fire eel tank mate with an Arowana, tire track eel, peacock eel, Siamese tiger, and silver dollars.
Fire eels are long-lived fish in comparison to many of the other types of pet fish. The average lifespan of a Fire eel is about 20 years.