An exotic, unusual in appearance aquarium moray eel, a fish that is interesting to many extreme aquarists. If appropriate conditions are created in a large aquarium, you can breed and observe the behavior of the specified predator for a long time, study its lifestyle and habits. Let discuss types of moray eel for aquarium.
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Moray Eel Description and appearnce
Scientists have more than 120 species of this animal, most of them live in salt water, but there are also freshwater specimens.
Moray eels scientific name: Muraena, belong to the order of ray-finned fish, the order of eels. They look more like snakes or large leeches in appearance. Their closest relatives are acne.
Scientists suggest that animals descended from tetrapods, the ancestors of alligators, crocodiles, and other four-legged amphibians who preferred to live near small bodies of water, in shallow waters with many reefs, rocks, gorges. There are types of moray eels in which the body is covered with poisonous mucus and such moray eels can burn a person by touching.
Due to the abundance of food in the aquatic environment, they did not need to get out on land. As a result of the aquatic and terrestrial way of life, the hind legs of the ancestors of the animal were transformed first into fins, and then, due to lack of need, disappeared altogether.
So, tetrapods evolved into moray eels. But not all scientists agree with this hypothesis.
Predators have a large head on a snake-like elongated body. On the head there are rounded gill openings, a large jaw with sharp hooked teeth and eyes with an evil expression.
For more oxygenation, the mouth of the fish is almost always open, allowing large volumes of water to pass through. Some species of moray eels have internal teeth in the pharynx, which, when attacked, move forward and, seizing prey, drag it into the esophagus.
- The flattened body is covered with hard skin, without scales, which is often smeared with a thick layer of mucus. The secret helps fish to penetrate into narrow shelters without traumatizing the body on sharp stones.
- You can observe the tail fin of the vertical type, which provides the fish with mobility and maneuverability during movement.
- The pelvic and pectoral fins are absent. Predators move in the water column, like snakes, actively bending their bodies. But they cannot develop high speed in water.
- The camouflage color of moray eels is different, depending on the type and conditions of existence. It can be brown or gray in color, and have a small spot. The belly of all fish of this species is light in color, monochromatic.
These fish in nature can reach gigantic sizes – up to 370 cm in length and weigh more than 40 kg. Their average length is 60 cm, and the aquarium individuals are half as large.
Freshwater Moray eeels lifestyle and characteristics
Moray eels are solitary animals, although they live in shelters on the same territory, next to each other. The lifestyle and habitat of the fish is extremely interesting.
Moray eels are nocturnal predators. With the sunset, they get out from behind shelters to actively hunt, but they do not chase after prey, but eat all the living creatures that meet on their way. Their favorite delicacy is octopuses, for which they can arrange a chase.
The predator finds prey with the help of the lateral line and a well-developed sense of smell, while vision does not play an important role. A fish is dangerous to humans only when a person, through negligence, disturbed a predator.
The fish can lurk and wait. Nasal tubes protrude from the nostrils of the moray eel, contributing to the rapid detection of prey. Then there is an instant throw at the target, using the outer and inner jaws.
Fish live for a long time, some individuals – up to 30 years. With age, they become more aggressive and can go hunting even during the day. Old individuals are capable of attacking their young relatives.
There were cases of manifestation of aggression against a person. The predatory fish bites into the body and does not open its jaws until it separates a piece of flesh. After swallowing, it attacks again.
Moray Eel Habitat in nature
Most moray eels prefer warm salty waters. They are common in the Red and Mediterranean Seas, in certain areas of the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic oceans.
Moray eels can be distinguished:
- geometric, etc.
They love shallow waters, coral reefs, gorges and other shelters. They rarely sink to a depth of more than 40 m. For most of their life, the fish are in shelters, trapping the prey that has passed.
In mangrove swamps, in the estuaries of rivers with variable salinity due to the effects of ebb and flow, you can find freshwater moray eels, which can stay in fresh water for a long time. Its habitat is considered to be the coastal regions of the Pacific Ocean – from Australia to India.
Moray Eel Aquarium setup and Care
Keeping moray eels in aquariums is very difficult. For a comfortable stay of fish in the aquarium, you should adhere to the following rules:
- For one adult, the capacity must be at least 300 liters.
- The water should be clear, clean, well saturated with oxygen. Requires a weekly change of 50% of the water volume.
- Water temperature – at least 24-27 ° C.
- The water should be brackish, at the rate of 15 g of sea salt per 1 liter.
- Subdued lighting.
- Creation of multi-level shelters where you could hide. For this, pipes made of high-quality plastic, stones, without sharp corners and edges are suitable.
- The room for roommates who have a beneficial effect on the existence of predators – cleaner fish, starfish, etc.
- Covering the aquarium with a lid to prevent moray eels from getting out of the water.
Moray Eel Diet and frequancy of Feeding in Aquarium
The Moray Eel diet includes:
- sea urchins
- various fish, etc.
Moray eels in the aquarium should receive fresh food crustaceans, small fish, mussels, squid, shrimp, etc. Pets can be gradually accustomed to frozen seafood. Until the habit of living in captivity is formed, moray eels can refuse food for a long time.
Adult aquarium fish should be fed 2-3 times a week. Juveniles need daily feeding.
Moray Eel breeding in aquarium and tanks
The breeding process of moray eels is as follows. At the right time (in natural conditions – in the winter months), female fish swim to shallow water, where they spawn.
After that, they leave this place in search of food. Then males come here and fertilize eggs randomly and chaotically.
After about 14 days, larvae hatch from the eggs, no more than 10 mm in size – leptocephals, which are carried by the current throughout the shallow water.
The larvae are vulnerable, 1 in 100 survives. Moray eels reach maturity by 6 years.
At home, the reproduction of these fish is very difficult. This can only be done by specialists.
The appropriate climatic conditions, which are difficult to create at home, should encourage the fish to spawn. Therefore, females refuse to lay eggs or eat their eggs immediately after throwing.
Moray Eel Tank Mates
The moray eel is considered an aggressive predator, occupying a high position in the food chain, so it has no natural enemies. Attacks of other predators on moray eels were noted, but it cost them their lives.
There are marine life that can live safely with formidable predators. These include:
- cleaner wrasses
- nurse shrimp
These animals cleanse the skin of moray eels from mucus and dirt, the oral cavity from food debris.
The cooperation of predatory fish with sea bass is interesting. The latter, swimming up to the moray eel shelter, shakes his head, inviting her to hunt. Then it leads the hungry predator to the place of accumulation of crayfish or mollusks. Moray eels are fed themselves, and then part of the prey in a mortified form gives to the perch.