Name: Macrognathus aculeatus
Origin: Southeast Asia
I gather that most of these interesting fish are wild caught, and are found in fresh - brackish water. I keep two, which bury themselves close to one another at one end of the tank which has less rocks. I've read that they won't tolerate the presence of another eel, but this has not been my experience. Having said that, my two are are very different in behavior: one enthusiastically takes blood worms and often is seen resting on the sand substrate. The other stays completely buried with just the tip of its tail out. Seeing its head is a rare treat. If most are collected from the wild for the aquarium trade, coming to a brightly lit tank must be very stressful - on that topic I've observed small catfish be frantic in brightly lit pet store tanks. It's important for these eels to have access to a fine enough substrate to bury themselves, as well as plant cover or a cave. Their hunting skills (striking from an immobile position) make them the slowest feeders in a community tank, so I'm careful to feed in such a way the eels have a chance to get a bite before the angels rush over. I've found little natural history on them, and don't know why they climb out of tanks, though mine never have. Regarding color, my active one is distinctly paler and yellowish compared to the other, which has dark lateral lines. Both have 3 spots. There are clearly many varieties, but scarce information on what these individual differences represent.
This is one of the smallest species of spiny eel. It is hardy and sometimes falsely sold under the name of Zigzag Eel. Its behavior is standard of spiny eels, burrowing, etc. If you accidentally buy the lesser spiny eel under a false or mistaken name be aware that if you have intended to keep a tire track eel, also called the zigzag eel, you will end up with a much smaller fish.
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