Want something totally different for a pet in your home aquarium? How about an electric eel or an electric catfish? Otherwise known as electrogenic freshwater fish, these varieties can actually be kept safely in a home aquarium. Here are some interesting facts about them.
Electric eels and catfish belong to the unique group of fish that possess electricity-producing organs. There are actually over four hundred varieties of these fish that can be found in freshwater lakes and rivers around the world, but a majority of them are found in South American and African waterways. Fish of this variety can be obtained through a tropical or exotic fish wholesaler or breeder.
Fish that produce electricity, like eels and catfish, especially those found in warmer waters, can produce shocks upwards of 500 volts - enough to kill a person who comes in contact with one. What gives them this ability is an organ called the Sachs organ, which uses special muscle-like cells, called electrocytes. When these cells line up, they produce a charge of electricity. When fish are not alarmed, they produce much smaller volts that will not harm other fish or humans. Electric eels and catfish can be safety kept in aquariums with other fish that are not predatory in nature, to reduce them from going into alarm mode.
If you are considering owning an electric eel or electric catfish, it's best to use a tank that will not allow them to grow to full adult size. Research the best size tank for the species you wish to keep by talking to an exotic fish breeder. In general, keep the tank size no more than twenty gallons per eel or catfish to slow their growth cycles. You may also want to keep the water between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit in order to reduce the strength of their shock if and when they choose to produce them. Think of a car battery - when its cooler your car may have trouble generating a charge to start up. Use care when handling the fish and wear rubber gloves for direct contact. You can safely own an electric eel or catfish and keep them alongside other fish if you follow these basic guidelines.