Mastacembelus caudiocellatus

9. July 2010

Recently we were able to import this pretty spiny eel from Burma for the first time. It is a rather small (around 20 cm) species with a very contrasting pattern. The species lives endemically in the Lake Inle region in Burma. Lake Inle has medium hard water with a slightly alcalic pH. From Lake Inle already many pretty and very suitable aquarium fish have been imported.

Although the species has been described scientifically in 1893 already it is still new for the hobby. There are two phenotypes in our specimens. Some fish are larger, heavier builded and have a very dark coloration, others are smaller, more elongate and rather brownish. This possibly represents sexual dimorphism. It is – generally speaking – possible to breed spiny eels in the aquarium. They prefer to spawn in the roots of swimming plants near the water surface.

When keeping spiny eels it is necessary to offer a number of hiding places as well as fine sand which enables the fish to burry themselves at least in some parts of the tank. Mastacembelids are exclusively carnivorous, plants are ignored. The worst that can happen is that a spiny eel tries to burry itself under a plant. Spiny eels are generally very peaceful to conspecifics and to other fish. Very small fish, however, are eaten. Due to the quite small mouth of this spiny eel, other fish from 4-5 cm upwards are usually safe. Spiny eels are fed with all the usual live and frozen food, most of them also accept granulated food.

For our customers: the fish have code 426353 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Lexicon: Mastacembelus: ancient Greek, means “the one that throws oneself a bite”; probably it was though that these fish can use their snout like the trunk of an elephant. This is, however, wrong. caudiocellatus: Latin, means “with an eyespot in the caudal”.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer