As aquarium pets, eels need a varied diet served twice or thrice a week. Snowflake eels (aka moray eels) are predatory creatures. These fish can survive without food for weeks in the wild.
You can maintain a healthy feeding schedule by knowing what eels eat and when. We discuss the details below to help you take good care of your pet.
When and How Often Should You Feed a Snowflake Eel?
Taking care of a snowflake eel can be a different experience for new owners. Unlike other fish, they don’t eat or play in the daytime. Nor do they need food once or twice a day.
In the aquarium, eels set the feeding rules themselves. Snowflake eels often go on a hunger strike if you overfeed them.
So how often should you feed a snowflake eel?
Feeding moray eels twice or thrice a week shall suffice.
However, they don’t eat according to a strict schedule. The eating pattern can vary with time.
Understanding the eel’s dietary needs and habits in the wild can make things more manageable. You can use that information to replicate a natural feeding schedule inside the tank.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Feed Moray Eels at Night
The PBS fact sheet lists snowflake eels as nocturnal fish. That means it stays active at night and sleeps during the day.
If your pet stays low and hidden during the day, don’t worry.
Instead of force-feeding it during the day, change the schedule. Moray eel will respond better to a nighttime snack.
Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t come out during the feeding session. A well-fed moray goes on a self-imposed hunger strike until they are hungry.
- Avoid Overfeeding
As predatory fish, morays are accustomed to surviving without food for weeks. Their bodies naturally store fats and utilize them when they can’t find prey.
It is why you must avoid overfeeding your pet eel. Feed snowflake eels a couple of times during the week. If they don’t eat, increase the intervals between feeding sessions.
Some snowflake eels refuse food when they are well-fed, but others can become greedy. Overeating can lead to digestive health issues. Symptoms include puking, overgrowth, and lethargy.
Consider adjusting the feeding schedule to give your pet the time to digest its food. If you notice severe health issues, consult a vet.
- Use Tongs to Feed Snowflake Eels
Moray eels can become aggressive and predatory.
A research study observes that morays exhibit an alien-like feeding behavior with a “second mobile set of jaws.” The sharp teeth can pierce into your skin, causing a nasty bite.
Eels have poor eyesight and usually detect food with their sense of smell. Your fingers can seem tempting to hungry morays if you’re not cautious.
Keep your hands out of the aquarium when you feed your eels or clean the tank. Use long tongs or feeding sticks instead. The extended device will help you safely feed your pet.
To sum it up, feed your eels twice or thrice weekly during the night.
Snowflake Eel Diet: What Should I Feed My Eel?
Moray eels maintain a strictly carnivorous and often cannibalistic diet. The marine predator hunts for small “fish and crustaceans” in the open sea.
What do they eat inside the tank?
Eels eat fresh or frozen feed of the same variety when kept as pets. Make sure to select diverse and meaty food for your pet eels.
Here’s what you should know.
The Staple Diet: What Do Eels Eat?
Eels prefer crunchy marine animals. That means they like shellfish. Their favorites include crabs, clams, scallops, and mussels. Octopus, squids, krill, and shrimp are other popular choices.
Snowflake eels also eat small marine fish.
If you decide to feed morays feeder fish, balance the diet. Mix it with saltwater fish and shellfish varieties. That will ensure they receive essential nutrients and vitamins.
Live Fish vs. Frozen Food: Which Is Better?
Pet snowflake eels might need time to adjust to their aquarium lifestyle.
Weaning can take weeks sometimes. Begin feeding them live fish such as ghost shrimp or smaller shellfish in the beginning.
Then gradually introduce your new pet to frozen, thawed food.
Most morays do develop a taste for fresh feed and thawed frozen food.
When feeding frozen or dried food, bring it to a favorable temperature. Remember to dice it to make it digestible before feeding the eels.
Nutritional Supplements: Do Eels Need Supplements?
A diverse diet of meaty marine food provides moray eels with essential minerals and nutrients. In contrast, snowflake eels might need supplementation if they only eat frozen meals.
Supplementing their food with vitamins enriches their body and boosts immune health. It allows morays to remain healthy and active inside the tank.
Do Snowflake Eels Attack Tank Mates?
It depends on the fish co-sharing the aquarium.
Never keep clams, lobsters, shrimps, or crabs with snowflake eels. Your predatory eel will consider shellfish as fresh prey even if you feed it well.
Choose other predatory or non-crustacean species if you want to keep multiple fish with morays. The best tank inhabitants include sea urchins, starfish, lionfish, marine bettas, and angelfish.
They also live peacefully with corals and anemones.
However, a hungry predator doesn’t think twice about taking a bite. You can avoid an attack by feeding moray eels 2-3 times a week. That way, they are less likely to disturb tank mates.
Frequently Asked Questions about Feeding Snowflake Eels
Moray eels are friendly and hassle-free aquarium pets.
That said, these marine predators can exhibit behavioral changes. You should know what to do when they stop eating or become aggressive.
We answer common queries about feeding habits and eel bites below.
Q.1 How Long Can a Snowflake Eel Go without Food?
A well-fed eel can go on a self-imposed hunger strike until it needs food. At other times, morays stop eating food because they goes into hibernation mode.
In both cases, healthy eels can survive 2-3 weeks without food. They usually digest stored fat deposits for energy and nutrients. Most eels will emerge from their hiding spot when their appetite returns.
Serve a small portion of eel food after a week or two of the hunger strike. Their response will determine if they are hungry again.
Q.2 How Does Water Quality Impact Snowflake Eels?
Chicago Exotic Animals Hospital instructs eel owners to maintain optimal aquarium conditions.
Here are a few pointers:
- Morays prefer the tank temperature to be around 73.4 to 86 ºF
- The best pH levels for snowflake eels are between 6.5 and 9.0
- Snowflake eels need moderate ammonia and mineral levels
Unfavorable tank conditions can make eels sick. This can affect their diet and can cause them to go into hiding. It’s why they refuse to eat.
Owners feeding snowflake eels weekly should check the aquarium if their pet stops eating. Cleaning the tank, changing the water, and adjusting its temperature can help.
Also, check the aquarium filter for clogs.
Sometimes untouched food settles at the bottom of the tank or in the vent. The rotten food pollutes the aquarium and lowers your pet’s quality of life.
Snowflake eels will return to a normal routine once you improve the tank environment.
Q.3 What to Do If a Snowflake Eel Bites You During Feeding Time?
As explained earlier, morays have sharp teeth. Eels can bite you while you feed them, or if you adjust the tank during mealtime.
Snowflake eel bites can be painful and in some species venomous. A deep cut can lead to bleeding, swelling, and scarring on the injured site.
Treating the open wound can make these symptoms manageable.
Q. 4 How to Treat a Snowflake Eel Bite?
The severity of eel bites varies. It depends on the creature’s age and size. Plus, some moray eels are venomous and others are non-toxic.
Taking preventive measures after a snowflake eel bites you can limit risks.
Here’s what you should do:
- Is the wound small? Wash small cuts and surface-level wounds with water and antibacterial soap.
- Is the bitten area bleeding? Place pressure on the open wound to stop the bleeding. Apply an ointment and clean the bandage afterward. Change the bandage frequently to prevent infection.
- Does the bitten area hurt? Take over-the-counter pain medicine to alleviate the pain.
Aside from this, you must monitor the eel bite for at least 24-48 hours. Consult a doctor if the symptoms don’t subside within that time.
If you are concerned about the bite and at-home treatment, call a specialist immediately. They will instruct you on the best way to treat a moray eel bite.
Avoid submerging your hand inside the tank while feeding your pet moray the next time. You can also wear protective gloves to prevent future incidents.
In a Nutshell
You don’t have to feed a snowflake eel daily. Feeding your pet eel twice or thrice a week should suffice.
Don’t worry if your pet refuses to eat. It probably needs time to digest what it has already eaten. You can feed it the next day or change its diet if needed.
Adjust the feeding frequency and monitor the aquarium environment according to your pet’s needs. Your attentive care will ensure your eel feels safe and happy in its tank.
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