The Complete Guide To Fire Eel Care

Fire Eels are ray-finned fish of an order of Anguilliforme species having a predatory nature. They are snake-like, with a streamlined body, can camouflage and blend with the surroundings for prey.

They have no pectoral or pelvic fins and swim swiftly with their aerodynamical body. There are around 800 species of Eels and each has its various characteristics.

If you are looking for a non-fish pet that is easy to rear, then we recommend Fire Eels for you. Take a look at its care guide here. They are brown bottom-dwelling fish species with the appearance of an eel.

They are widely distributed in South-Eastern Asian waters where grow. Let us take a look at the elaborate details before making a decision!

Fire eel

What is a Fire Eel?

It’s a relatively large species associated with spiny eel. Mostly found in SouthEast Asian regions, this predatory freshwater fish is getting endangered due to overfishing and trading for food.

They are a kind of elongated fish with a very distinctive, pointed snout and an underslung jaw.

Fire Eel Facts & Overview

  • Scientific name – Mastacembelus Erythrotaenia.
  • Predatory nature.
  • The average lifespan is 10 years.
  • Reddish Orange in color.
  • Easy to take care of.
  • The average Tank size should be 300 liters.
  • The tank should contain bedrocks and aquatic plants.
  • Omnivorous diet type.
  • Can grow up to 60-70 cm long.

What are the facts about Fire Eels?

This pretty-looking Fire eel can be a showoff factor for your aquarium if you have one at your home. If you are out there searching for a unique and large tank mate, the Fire Eel is just the one.

Where can you buy a Fire Eel?

If you live in Southeast Asia, you may possibly find aquatic shops or dealers selling Fire Eels as a pet or maybe food. But if you live somewhere other than these coastal regions, you may purchase Fire Eel via importing from your nearest available online seller.


How to care for your Fire Eel?

The best care Fire Eels would get is providing them with almost the same conditions they used to get in freshwater habitats. Perform regular water cleaning and changing. Use of a good quality filter along with plausible water conditions so the Fire Eel can sustain well.

What does a Fire Eel eat?

Fire Eels have adapted to prey on worms, small fish, larvae, etc. in their natural habitat. If you could feed them with either frozen or live food like small feeder fishes, worms, mussels, and plankton.

Surprisingly, if you have a pet Fire Eel, it will recognize the owner and will accept food from their hands.

Cleaning Station, Cleaning Shrimp

How to feed a Fire Eel?

One should be very careful while handling a Fire Eel as they secrete a toxic slime on their bodies and also has sharp spines which are fatal to humans. Possibly, they could bite you as well with their sharp teeth.

So maybe feed them from a safe distance and maintain them in a safe environment as well to keep them contented.

close up of fire eel

Fire Eel: Habitat and Tank Conditions

It is important to keep habitable surroundings for the eel to sustain as it would in a freshwater lake.

However, a Fire Eel grows double of its size as well as lives double when in a lake rather than an aquarium tank. The growth rate of a Fire Eel is also quite fast as compared to other fishes.

Water Conditions

The Ideal temperature is 75-83 F.

pH should be 6 to 7.5.

GH should range from 6 to 12.

What should be the size of a tank for Fire Eels?

The tank capacity must be at least 300-350 liters for the eels to live comfortably. The natural habitable conditions in Southeast Asian lowland rivers can be matched up to tolerate myriad water parameters.

Fire Eels are predators and hence are very active creatures. That’s the reason they need more tank sizes to meander.

What do I need for a Fire Eel tank?

Some primary factors in building a sweet playful home for your snakey buddy include :

  • Balancing the water chemistry with constant flow and persistent oxygenation with a freshwater lake-like vibe.
  • A PVC pipe structure is internally connected for Fire Eels to hide. It’s because they are nocturnal and prefer to hide during the day. Adding decorations such as large rocks, floatable aquatic plants, and large driftwood would be indeed helpful.
  • Eels like digging and burrowing too. So, endeavor the tank bed with at least 3 inches of mud and soft sand.
  • Keep dim lighting in its estate and let it vibe like in wild.
  • Make sure the lid of the tank has a tight-fitting because this buddy right here is a great escape artist.
Aquarium, Plants, Fish, Rocks, Stones

Tank Mates

Fire Eel is quite a peaceful creature and won’t bother bigger fish as its tankmates. But surely would eat up smaller fishes. Some well suitable tank mates for Fire Eel are Angel Fish, Green Terror, Oscar Fish, and Barbs.

Also, you shouldn’t keep two Fire Eels together as it may create a survival conflict situation, where they would detriment the environment there.


Breeding Fire Eels is a daunting task which you should never attempt to do. Even if you make up your mind, avoid performing it in captivity. Due to territorial conflicts, two Fire Eels in the same tank won’t be a playdate for them for sure, it would be a tumultuous feeling for them.

Also, you would need a much bigger tank. Recreating the necessary environment for spawning and attempting to breed would fail anyhow in an enclosure.

Ideally, while breeding a male chases the female until he catches her and extracts 700 to 1000 eggs from her. Removing parent Eels after getting eggs is necessary to prevent them from eating the eggs.

What are some tankmates suitable for the Spiny Eel?

Spiny Eel or Zig-Zag Eel is a species of Notacanthidae class and is quite smaller, shy, and less aggressive compared to Fire Eels. Although, they do have a territorial psyche and would like to rule their own kingdom.

Suitable tankmates for Spiny Eels would be Geophagus, large Gouramis, large Rasboras, Botiid loach species, and Suckermouth cats.

Eel, Fish, Swim, Tail, Fins, Gills

How long does it take to cycle a Fire Eel tank?

“Cycling the tank” refers to establishing a bacteria bed in your biological filter to remove the toxins that the fish’s metabolism creates. It usually takes six to eight weeks to cycle a Fire Eel tank and balance the ammonia and nitrate levels in a satisfactory manner.

Why should you not buy a 20-gallon tank for your Fire Eels?

For a creature whose minimum tank size requirement is 80 gallons, it would be preposterous to even make this decision because this adorable fish naturally habitats in freshwater lakes of the wild and deserves at least a happy and comfortable artificial habitat to live.

An abnormal enclosure would result in stunted growth, shortened lifespan, atrophied muscles, body deformities, and developmental health issues.

What’s the best type of fish tank for your red fire eels?

An Ideal suggestion of a marine life expert would be to keep your buddy in a 100-120 gallon fish tank to provide a prominent life for the creature. Proper cleanliness and hygiene are also to be taken into primary consideration.


Keeping a fire eel as a pet in your aquarium is surely a splendid companion to have.

It’s an unusual creature and has a certain level of desirability and appeal due to its sleek appearance.

But at the same time make sure you provide a healthy diet, suitable environment, perfect home, and everything it would cost you to possess such a magnificent creature.


How often do fire eels eat?

These fish are nocturnal. So, they prefer to be fed in the dark and only a couple of times a week and won’t have more than that itself.

How Big Do Fire Eels grow?

They grow almost 60 cm in an enclosure of a fish tank and up to 1 m in freshwater.

What Is The Smallest Freshwater Eel?

The Kuhli loaches are one of the smallest freshwater Eels and grow up to 4 inches.

Are Freshwater Eels Aggressive?

They act aggressively only when threatened by humans or preying for their food. Otherwise, they prove to be quite calm among others.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!