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Mastacembelus armatus
Tire Track Eel, White-Spotted Spiny Eel, Zig Zag Eel

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Tire Track Eel - Mastacembelus armatus

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Mastacembelus_armatus_1.jpg (14kb)
Photo Credit: Marko Häyrinen

Name: Mastacembelus armatus
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Southeast Asia
90 cm 400 L 7.0 26°C


I've had a tire track eel for four years now. He will not get along with anything, so I keep him alone in his own tank. He loves brine schrimp. He seems to always want to be where I'm at. If I move place to place, he attempts to follow as best he can. He always comes to me and lets me rub his nose with my finger. He also eats out of my hand. Very interesting animal, that should be studied more in regards to it's IQ.

Contributed by Dick Baumer

I have a 200 L corner tank which is slightly overstocked with two 10 cm silver dollars, a 13 cm pleco, an 8 cm killifish, two orange pike cichlids (8 and 13 cm) and two armatus, 15 and 30 cm. I've had the big eel for well over a year now and introduced the little on a few months ago with no issues. The filtration is with a Marineland HOT Magnum with Biowheel. The tank is moderately planted with Cryptocoryne wendtii, java fern and java moss. There are lots of hiding places made from slate and smooth river rock. The substrate is a fine sand which clogs my filter a bit too much, I would prefer to go with a coarser sand next time. There is a large gap between the hood and the rear of the tank, but neither of my eels has shown the least interest in leaving their digs. I feed almost exclusively live food, blood worms all around, supplemented with frozen brine shrimp on occasion. The big eel takes earthworms from my hand, but I have to fight the big pike to get them to the eel. The big eel tends to hide under a hemispherical piece of slate, with just his head poking out. The little eel used to frolic with the pike cichlids, but as he matures, he tends to hide out more. Every once in a while, the big guy will leave mouthshaped scars on the big pike or the little eel, or take a chunk out of one of the dollar's tails, but otherwise, it's pretty peaceable. I think that in a well planted tank, with lots of nooks and crannies and with a supply of good fresh food, the motivation for leaving the tank is eliminated and there shouldn't be any problems. I strongly recommend these fish, they are very interactive, are a joy to keep and when we actually see the big guy, he is breathtakingly beautiful.

Contributed by Steve Yu

These eels get VERY large. The size of your tank will not necessarily limit the size of the Eel, these guys keep growing. They can easily grow to well over a metre in length, so keep that in mind! It takes very little to train them to eat out of your hand. They need nooks and crannies to hide in during the day, as they are more active at night. They also work themselves under your rocks and into your gravel. Young ones may happily make themselves at home UNDER your undergravel filter. The one I currently have was found in the sump at the local fishy shop, they only found him by accident as they were cleaning it out. He was around 15 cm long at that stage. Striking and fascinating pets to have, work well in most community tanks, but the bigger they get, the more of your smaller fish will disappear overnight.

Contributed by Hanneke van Linge

Our tire eel is very aggressive and loves to cause problems. He makes sure that he gets his food. He likes meal worms, frozen blood worms and also earth worms. He is now consuming a whole earth worm. They will get big on this diet, but not sure if it is safe for him.

Contributed by Ami Gudjohnsen

I have had my eel for a about 19 months now, and it has grown quite a bit. When I first got it, it was about 15 cm, and now it is about 45 cm. We call it Hoosier. Hoosier likes to hide a lot during the day, and usually is very active at night. We have it in a community tank, but we're having a rough time stocking the tank, as Hoosier eats anything that will fit in it's mouth. We used to have African cichlids, but decided to switch to community for a more diverse tank. So far, we have only had luck with gouramis, black phantom tetras, and hatchets that are all about 5 cm or bigger. We've tried platies and swordtails with no luck. They were eaten within about an hour of being in the tank. I think soon we will have to move Hoosier into it's own larger tank. Our tank now is only 200 liters.

Contributed by

I'm keeping several species of the Mastacembelus family, at this moment 6 different species, 2 M. erythrotaenia about 35 cm, 4 M. armatus 35, 25, 15 and 10 cm, a M. circumcintus about 15 cm, M. ellipsifer 25 cm, M. plagiostomus 17 cm and M. cryptacanthus 14 cm. I haven't had any problems with these fishes, they become more aggressive when they get larger, especially when keeping them in a tank that is too small for more than 2 eels. I keep my two largest M. erythrotaenia together in a tank of 160 liters and they are fighting sometimes. they don't really hurt each other, but they've got a lot of scars all over their body. Soon I'll transport them over to a larger tank of about 350 liters.

Contributed by Robbert

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