Electric Eel Tank

Electric Eel

Range: Northern South America
Diet: Carnivores eating fish, crustaceans, insects and small vertebrates like amphibians, reptiles and mammals
Weight: Up to 44 pounds
Length: 6-8 feet
Life Span: Males 10-15 years in captivity, Females 12-22 years in captivity, Unknown in the wild

Electric Eels is a type of knifefish and more closely related to catfish and carp than to other eel families. It has scaleless skin and its elongated anal fin helps it maneuver through the water, where it can swim forward, backward or hover as it searches for its prey. They have a giant bulbous lung that allows them to breath just like humans.

There are three specialized electric organs that make up 80% of its body. These can create strong and week electric charges that is used for defense, hunting, communication, and navigation. They can generate up to 800 volts of electricity. The remaining vital organs like the heart, liver, and lungs are tightly packed in the front part of its body.

These eels have motion sensitive hairs along its body called the lateral line system that allows it to detect any slight pressure change in the surrounding water. This is how they can tell if there is a prey nearby. Then it uses two quick electric pulses to cause the prey to twitch involuntarily and with a series of high voltage pulses it will paralyze and consume its prey. This happens very quickly.

Our electric eel was featured this last summer during Shark Week 2022! He was under the care and supervision of one of our curators and professionals.