YOUNG WORLD

Eeks! It's an eel

Scary looking aren't they? Believe it or not, they are considered to be sociable!

NIVEDITA GANGULY

NOCTURNAL BEAUTIES: Morays PHOTO: K.R. DEEPAK

NOCTURNAL BEAUTIES: Morays PHOTO: K.R. DEEPAK  

When it's still it hides its body in a thick outcropping of broadleaf plants and just pokes its head out — its eyes follow everything though. When it's active it seems to want to escape the tank — pushing against the glass as it slithers up and down the front pane. Eels are an exotic variety of sea fish that has a marked resemblance to snakes. There are about 20 other families of eels, the moray is the most commonly kept in aquaria. Eels range from a few inches to six feet in length. Many are very colourful and occasionally look scary! Most eels live near corals where there are plenty of fish for food. This is a nocturnal family of fish that live in holes and caves in the reef and snatch any hapless fish that may swim by. They are undemanding in the aquarium as long as they have plenty of room, a place to hide, and plenty of food. Morays locate food mainly with their sense of smell. So watch your fingers when feeding a moray since their eyesight is not very good and it is easy for them to mistake your fingers for a "morsel" of food.

They are not commonly bred in captivity for several reasons. First they will not breed until they are very large and have outgrown most aquariums. The female will spawn either as a pair or with several smaller males. At dusk the eggs are released and are basically pelagic. The larval stage of the eel lasts for six to ten months and so makes it difficult to reproduce in the aquarium.

Sociable and peaceful, it is considered to be a community fish as long as its tank mates are not small enough to eat!

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