Name: Echidna nebulosa
Origin: Hawaii, Indo-Pacific
The Snowflake Moray Eel is a tropical eel that's commonly kept in the home aquarium. They are very hardy and disease-resistant. In the wild, they are found near Hawaii and other Pacific islands and can grow up to 85-90 cm. However, in captivity, most will not exceed 60 cm. They need excellent filtration, as they add a lot to the bioload of aquariums.
Like all eels, the Snowflake is an escape artist, so make sure you have a secure lid on your aquarium. If you do happen to wake up one morning and find your Snowflake Moray on the floor, there still may be hope - this species has a good reputation for surviving out of their tanks for several hours. If it's still alive, gently pick it up and rinse it in cool tap water. Then place the eel back into the aquarium. There is a good chance it will survive and fully recover.
Snowflake Moray Eels can be a little bit hard to feed at first, but once you wean them onto non-live foods, they'll take just about any meaty foods. After you buy the eel and put it in the aquarium, wait a couple days before trying to feed it. If the eel won't eat non-live foods yet (you should ask the pet store clerk, before you buy the eel), then you will have to feed it live food. Never feed eels freshwater feeder fish, such as goldfish or rosy reds - these will cause liver problems for the eel and will gradually kill it over time; however, freshwater ghost shrimp are different, and will not harm the Snowflake Eel, so they're the best choice. Some people like to spend a bit more money and occasionally feed their eel a small saltwater fish, like a Damsel, which is also fine. Weaning can be accomplished over time, and after that, feed them meaty foods such as shrimp, krill, silversides, lancefish, octopus and squid meat.
The Snowflake Moray is a very mild-mannered eel, and will hardly ever bother any of the other fish in the tank. They require lots of hiding places (rocks, PVC pipes, etc.) to feel secure. The more secure they feel, the more they will leave their hiding place and swim out in the open. They can be kept in reef tanks as long as there are no crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, etc.) in the tank, because they will eat them - but they won't bother coral, starfish, urchins, etc. Also, while they usually just eat crustaceans, if hungry enough, they may sometimes eat small fish in the tank. Because of that, it’s best not to put them in an aquarium with small fish like Damsels and small Gobies. Better choices are larger, more aggressive fish, such as Lionfish and Triggerfish, or if you have a reef tank, fish like Tangs and large Clownfish. They’re usually OK with other Snowflake Eels in the tank with them, but sometimes they end up fighting. If you really must keep two of them together, put them both in the tank at the same time. Successful breeding of the species in captivity has not been reported.
I inherited my Snowflake Eel from a buddy of mine about 4 months ago. It was already eating non-live foods and is currently 40+ cm long. It is a pig while eating and knows very quickly that there's food in the water. The eel has very poor eyesight, but a very keen sense of smell. My tank is 180 cm long and I will put 2 pieces of frozen krill at one end and it will sniff it out in a matter of seconds! It's a lot of fun to watch it and feed it, and the coloration is awesome! The only drawback to the eel is that since it cannot see very well, it 'tastes' a lot of things by biting at them. The first feeding I gave it, it put a big hurt on my Foxface by biting it across the abdomen. It left a mark for a month! I am also wary whenever I have to put my hands in the tank for cleaning, as it did bite the prior owner (mistook his finger for food). It does go into almost every small crevice in my rockwork, so make sure all of your rockwork/decorations are set firmly with no chance of falling, because it is a strong eel and will work things loose as it works through holes. It is the 'talk of the tank' whenever we host a party and everyone wants to see the Eel and watch it feed.
My snowflake eel was out of water for 9 hours! I looked for it every were in the tank, and there was no sign of it. I moved rocks, by then I thought it buried itself in the sand or something, the next morning my dad and I found it under the sofa. I asumed it was dead so I threw it away, 10 minutes later my dad took it out the trash and saw some movement, and quickly dropped it in the tank. It started swimming as if nothing ever happened. It's been a week and it looks fine!
I took one of these home once after working around them for a few weeks when I worked in a pet store and being utterly fascinated by them. I thought my tank was fairly secure, but you would indeed be amazed at how small an exit they require to flop out of the tank. Awesome in all respects, but make sure you have a tight fitting tank top with holes that fit only your equipment and cords or these will slither right out of your tank the first chance they get while exploring the darkened tank at night. As for biting, they certainly will do that. I've had them mouth me, but been lucky not to get the teeth as I've seen a coworker get once from about a 60 cm specimen. You can buy reasonably priced frozen bags of mixed seafood from the grocery store with clams, octopus, etc., which makes excellent food for them.
When I set up my first brackish water tank this was my first fish. One of the best and hardiest fish EVER. These babies like a good hiding place. I took a clear hamster tube, half-buried it in the sand and now my eel is tank master. Actually he is just happy to sit in his tube, although when he leaves his tube for a lap or two all the other fish make way. :) I feed mine 2 to 3 whole krill (by hand)every few days with the occasional live minnow and he is doing great. The survival of these fish is amazing. Mine survived out of water for 5 minutes before I found its escape and saved it (this happened while we were relocating my tank to make room for a bigger one). He has survived 2 Ich outbreaks, a parasite attack and amazingly a full blown fish TB outbreak and one week starvation (while I was on vacation). Overall this is a great fish. You will not regret the purchase of this hero (thats the name of my snow flake).
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