Helping you keep your aquarium beautiful and healthy

Can You Keep Electric Eels and
Electric Catfish as Pets?

You have an article about owning electric eels. It say in said article "it is best to keep it in a tank that will not allow it to grow to full adult size"

This is a huge misnomer. And a dangerous one at that. Doing so keeps the fishs body from growing, while internal organs continue to grow. Leaving compressed organs and bulging eyes that are more and more painful as it goes, and leads to a much shortened, and painful existence.

If someone wants to keep one of these fish they not only need to do a massive amount of research first, but be able to provide a tank large enough for said fish to be comfortable at its FULL adult size.

I fear this article is going to mislead unknowing people into neglecting the needs of their pet, and causing it unneeded pain and suffering.

Will you please change this article to reflect the fact that these fish are not for the average person, and require not just a HUGE tank, but a HUGE commitment.

Thank you

Timbra Newbury
Mckenzie fish and reptile rescue

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.