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Marine Eel

Marine Eel

includes snowflake and other marine eel species

Marine eels have an excellent sense of smell but can't see very well. Eels have an elongated, snakelike body and vary in size and coloration. They open their jaws to allow water over their gills for breathing. A popular marine eel is the snowflake moray eel. Recommended for experienced aquarists.

Marine Eel

Marine Eel Facts

Average Adult Size 1 to 6+ feet long, depends on species
Average Life Span depends on species
Diet carnivore
Minimum Aquarium Size 50+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature: 72-78°F
Salinity Level: 1.020-1.025


A well-balanced marine eel diet consists of:

  • Frozen silversides, krill, shrimp or other carnivorous frozen options, and freezedried krill.
  • Squid can be given occasionally as a special meal.


Things to remember when feeding your marine eel:

  • Feed once or twice a day usually in the evening.
  • Use caution when feeding; lower food with feeding tongs.
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding.


  • Keep in an appropriately sized aquarium; a wellsealed aquarium lid is recommended because eels can easily escape. Provide hiding places large enough for an eel to fit inside.
  • Stable water quality and parameters are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, Petco provides free water testing.

Normal Behavior

  • Usually marine eels are communal and sedentary.
  • They tend to be nocturnal and live in holes and caves.
  • Marine eels have a reputation as vicious hunters, but are usually harmless to humans if handled properly.
  • Will eat small fish and invertebrates.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Daily: check filter, water temperature, specific gravity and other equipment.
  • Weekly: check water quality at least once a week.
  • Monthly: change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every 2 to 4 weeks, or as needed.
  • Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually.


  • Compatible with certain species of puffers, triggers and angelfish. Don't house with small, slow-swimming species. May become aggressive in an overcrowded aquarium.


Signs of a Healthy Marine Eel

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite

Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration.

Red Flags

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Erratic swimming
  • Labored respiration
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eyes

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Marine ich Symptoms or Causes Cysts on fins, gills and skin; labored respiration, excess skin mucus or pale skin. Suggested Action Treat entire aquarium with a commercial parasite remedy and improve water quality; freshwater dips can dislodge the parasites.


Ask a store partner about Petco's selection of books on marine crustaceans and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Atypical Mycobacterium and Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.