Spiny eels enjoy an increasing popularity. More and more aquarists are discovering that it is not always the colorful, constantly visible fish that are fun to watch, but also the more hidden fish personalities that are often only seen when feeding. Among these fish personalities are definitely the spiny eels.
There are spiny eels in different sizes: from the only about 10 cm long Macrognathus pancalus from India to the “giant spiny eel” Mastacembelus armatus with up to 90 cm. Unfortunately, a rule of thumb for size that was very helpful for a long time no longer works. Until scientific revisions of the genus in the last 5 years one could always say well: Asian spiny eels with a clearly separated caudal fin remain small, with those with a circumferential dorsal tail and anal fin one must watch out, they can become half a meter long and as thick as an arm. In the meantime, small species of the latter group are known as well as large ones of the former (the recently described Macrognathus kris from Borneo, which can reach a length of 40 cm).
Macrognathus maculatus has a circumferential fin and originates from Indonesia and Malaysia; reports from other parts of Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam) probably refer to similar other species. Size-wise, the species is in the middle range. Our animals are fully sexually differentiated (males are much slimmer than females) and 15-20 cm long. In the literature one finds size data up to 28 cm. The variable colored species is in any case very nicely patterned and very peaceful. Only very small fish should not be kept together with them: sooner or later they will end up in the stomach of the spiny eels.
For our customers: the animals have code 425253 on our stock list. Please note that we supply only wholesale.
At the moment we can once again offer very beautiful – i.e. strongly colored – offsprings of a dwarf spiny eel, which is not yet precisely identified. It is offered under the name Macrognathus aculeatus, but for various reasons it will probably not be this species. It shows the most similarity to Macrognathus siamensis, because like this species our redtail has strong pronounced, broad white bordered eye spots in the dorsal fin.
In any case they are very pretty, sociable animals, which under normal circumstances are not to be expected to grow much bigger than about 15 cm. All spiny eels are inquisitive and adaptive fish, which can give you a lot of pleasure. However, community fish should not be too small, otherwise they will be eaten. Water temperatures can be between 22 and 30°C, with the middle range being the most favorable. Every frozen and live food that fits into the mouth is eaten, also water fleas catch these fish skillfully from the water column, whereby they take a position like a seahorse. But also granulated food is accepted. Water hardness and pH-value do not play a role for the care, every drinking water is suitable.
There are two things to keep in mind when caring for spiny eels: absolutely escape-proof aquariums and sufficient hiding places in the form of caves. Since spiny eels also like to dig themselves in, the substrate should consist of sand at least in places.
For our customers: the animals have code 425208 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
Once more we obtained from India (Bengal) wonderful Eyespot Spiny Eels. The fish are of adult size and 12-15 cm long. The only complicated thing in this species is the scientific naming. The Eyespot Spiny Eel attains a maximum length of about 20 cm and ist one of the most colourful species of all spiny eels. One should be very careful during the acclimatisation, as the fish tends to develop a fungus in small wounds, but once the fish is settled it is very hardy and long living.
Formerly it was thought that there is only one species of Macrognathus, namely Macrognathus aculeatus, with an extremely wide distribution over South and Southeast Asia. Nowadays only individuals from Indonesia are thought to belong really to M. aculeatus. The small, striped Eyespot Spiny Eel from Bengal and Bangladesh is still named „Macrognathus aculeatus“ in many books and scientific articles on freshwater fishes of the region, but it´s proper name is – according to the most recent scientific research – Macrognathus aral.
One should keep this beautiful fish in a tank with a well structured equipment – roots, stones, caves, plants – and a soft bottom. Very small fish will be eaten, but against all other fish and conspecifics the Eyespot Spiny Eels are very peaceful. Settled fish will usually accept even granulated dry food, but frozen food items (bloodworm, large Artemia etc.) should be offered, too. Eyespot Spiny Eels spawn often in aquaria; males are smaller and more dainty than the females. Astonishingly these bottom-dwelling fish prefer the roots of swimming plants to spawn in. It is most likely that this hinders the eggs to sink in the deep muddy bottom in the natural habitats of the fish where the eggs would suffer. Spiny eels do not take any further care for their eggs.
For our customers: the fish have code 425155 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer