Snowflake Eels (Echidna nebulosa) otherwise known as Starry Moray or Snowflake Moray Eel, are interesting animals kept in aquariums. They are commonly found in predatory tanks but are occasionally added into reef tanks! This guide will give insight on Snowflake Eel aquarium requirements, feeding, and other information for anyone interested in this fish.
Snowflake Eels are incredibly easy to care for. They are very hardy and an excellent introductory eel for new hobbyists. They are considered semi-aggressive and are nocturnal predators usually hunting and ambushing crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. In an aquarium, it is common to see them poke their heads out of rocks during feedings. They use two sets of jaws to grab prey and drag it down into their gullet during feeding. Be cautious when keeping this fish in a reef tank because it consumes crustaceans. It may knock corals over since it stays inside and very close to live rock. The Snowflake Eel will be roughly 2 feet (60cm) in length when it is grown in captivity. It is possible for them to be larger in the wild.
When fully sized, the Snowflake Eel should be kept in fish tanks that are 50 gallons or larger. A well covered top is needed because this fish is known to be one of the best escape artists. Because of its size and temperament, the eel should have quite a bit of live rock with varying hole sizes. This will give it room to move around, hide when threatened, and provide similar habitat it experience in the wild.
Snowflake Eels do best in water temperatures ranging from 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit, dKH levels between 8 and 12, pH levels ranging between 8.1 and 8.4 and lastly salinity levels between 1.020 and 1.025 sg. As stated before, they are quite hardy and have a nice range of water parameters they can tolerate.
Food & Diet
Snowflake Eels are carnivorous animals and require a nice range of foods. There is a wide variety of food that it can eat such as:
- Krill (frozen of freeze dried)
- Fish (silversides)
A Snowflake Eel can also be handfed but caution must be taken because they can give a powerful bite! It is best to start handfeeding when the moray is small to minimize risk of getting bitten or at least to receive a smaller bite. It is a predator so it may mistaken your fingers for a quick snack!
The Snowflake Moray Eel can be kept with fish that are larger in size and that won’t easily fit into the eel’s mouth. They should do fine with coral, snails, anemones and sea urchins, but not crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp. Keep in mind that this species of eel will become quite large so fish that are larger than its mouth at first, may not be in the future.
Eels are commonly kept in larger aquariums with bigger and sometimes more aggressive fish. They are commonly kept with tangs, large angelfish, lionfish, foxface, groupers and large wrasses.
It is possible to keep 2 Snowflake Eels in a marine tank together. The eels should be introduced at the same time and they should also be similar in size. Snowflake Eels are cannibals and if the opportunity to eat a much smaller eel arises, it will do so! I would personally not keep 2 Snowflake Eels in a fish tank together unless it is 150 gallons or larger. They are quite territorial and larger aquariums will give them more room to create their own territory.
Breeding Snowflake Eels has not really been conducted in captivity because of their mating rituals, inability to distinguish between male and female, and rarity in acquiring a mating pair.
Snowflake Eels are a fantastic fish for a saltwater aquarium. They all have very unique personalities and are quite active moving within the live rock scaping of your aquarium. Be mindful of the fact that eels are escape artists and if a well sealed lid is not provided there is a high possibility of them jumping out!
Image by Michael Bentley on wikiMedia