The tire track eel, also known as the zigzag eel, is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia. Tire track eel(Mastacembelus armatus) same species as fire eel (Mastacembelus erythrotaenia), is a species of ray-finned, spiny eels belonging to the genus Mastacembelus (Scopoli, 1777) of the family Mastacembelidae, and is native to the riverine fauna of India, Pakistan, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam,Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia.
The tire track eel, also known as the zigzag eel, is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia. It is a long, slender fish with a snake-like body. The tire track eel has a brown body with darker zigzag lines running along its back. It has a small head and large eyes. The tire track eel is a nocturnal fish and feeds on insects, worms, and small fish. It is a popular aquarium fish and can grow up to 80 centimeters in length.
Appearance: Tire Track Eels are named for their distinctive color pattern, which resembles the impressions left by a tire track. Their bodies are elongated with a long dorsal fin that runs almost the entire length. Their color can range from brown to gray, with dark wavy lines or patterns. These eels can grow quite large, reaching up to 35 inches (90 cm) in length.
Habitat: These eels inhabit a wide range of freshwater environments including rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. They are found in various countries across Southeast Asia including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Behavior: Tire Track Eels are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night and hide during the day. They are known for their burrowing behavior, often burying themselves in the substrate with only their heads exposed.
Tire track eel in Aquarium
The Tire Track Eel, or Mastacembelus armatus, can be an interesting addition to a home aquarium due to its unique appearance and behavior. However, they require specific conditions and care. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering one for your aquarium:
Size and Tank Requirements: Tire Track Eels can grow up to 35 inches (90 cm) in length, so they require a large aquarium — at least 125 gallons for a single eel. The tank should be equipped with a tight-fitting lid as these eels are skilled escape artists.
Substrate and Decor: These eels are burrowers and prefer a soft, sandy substrate in which they can dig. Provide plenty of hiding spots using rocks, driftwood, or PVC pipes. Be cautious with live plants as these eels may uproot them while burrowing.
Water Conditions: They prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.5 – 7.0) and warm water temperatures between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). Regular water changes and a good filtration system are necessary to maintain water quality.
Diet: Tire Track Eels are omnivorous. They can be fed a variety of foods including pellets, frozen or live foods like shrimp, mussels, earthworms, and occasionally some vegetables.
Behavior and Tank Mates: These eels are mostly nocturnal and can be shy, often hiding during the day. They can be somewhat aggressive, especially towards smaller fish, so they should be kept with similarly sized or larger, non-aggressive species.
Health: Watch for signs of illness like lack of appetite, sluggish behavior, or visible spots or wounds. Like all fish, they can be susceptible to common aquarium diseases like ich or fin rot, which should be promptly treated.
Lifespan: With proper care, Tire Track Eels can live for about 10 to 18 years in captivity.
Tire track eel(Mastacembelus armatus)
Tire Track Eels (Mastacembelus armatus), although not true eels, are popular in the aquarium trade due to their unique appearance. Native to diverse habitats across Asia, they grow up to three feet, making them suitable only for large home aquariums. Despite their size, they pose a threat only to small, elongate fish that can be swallowed whole. Ideal tankmates include large cichlids, catfish, loaches, barbs, and tetras. Providing hiding spots with rocks, driftwood, or PVC pipes is crucial for this nocturnal creature. Their diet should consist of a variety of meaty foods and sinking pellets. With proper care, these intriguing aquarium residents can thrive for many years.