The care and keeping of a Snowflake Moray Eel


The Damsel Defender
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Hello! This is my first care guide to a reef critter and I hope you find it helpful! It was fun to write and experience during the semester. Included are the photos of the progress my Snowflake Eel, Malo Kelekona has made.


Snowflake eels are one of the most popularly kept eel in the home aquarium, as they tend to stay on the smaller side and are more docile. They are found in the Indo Pacific range- Hawaii to Australia to Africa. You can also tell where your eel is from by the different coloration on their bodies, The yellow nostril and spotted eels are from Hawaii, the ones that tend to have a faded look to their bodies are from Africa, and finally the white and black ones are from Australia. The colors vary from place to place depending on the habitat and quality of the water.


My snowflake eel, Kona is a Hawaiian Snowflake Eel, Note how his body has the yellow nostrils and yellow body coloration around his spots.

Eels live in rocky places, where they are allowed room to hide and move undetected within the caves the rocks provide. Its always good to have 2 or 3 different "cave" areas for your eel to live in. The more caves and cover there are for your eel, the more comfortable it will be in your tank and the more you will see it.


Eels also like PVC pipes and other aquatic decorations to hide about in.

Eels also require larger tanks, Although snowflakes are on the smaller side at about 3 feet in length they still require at least a 55 gallon habitat. A 75 gallon tank would be suitable for the eels full lifespan. Most eels will not reach 3 feet in the home aquarium.

Eels are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. Eels will hunt crustaceans and other small prey when your other fish are "sleeping". The diet of eels in the wild consists mainly of crabs, shrimp, and small fish. In the home aquarium I have varied the diet to consist of Mussels, Calamari, Shrimp, Silversides, Crab, and the occasional chunk of Fish. By varying the diet you can create a exciting diet for your eel to look forward to enjoying. It also keeps them less interested in the other fish you can house them with. I find the best time to feed an eel is right before "bed time". If you feed your eel before you turn out your lights so your other fish can rest, the eel becomes less interested in the other fish sitting around on the floor.


It is best if you feed your eel with a pair of tongs, otherwise your fingers may become prey. A small bite from an eel is painful, but from a larger eel you will have a nice set of holes and bloodied fingers. They have a strong jaw-bone for being small creatures, which they used to smash the shells of the crustaceans they eat. Feeding should be done 3-4 times a week, If your eel doesn't eat don't worry, Eels can go up to 2 weeks without food, but that is not recommended.

Its also a smart idea to keep your tank covered, Eels are known to the hobbiest world as a "carpet surfer". Eels are like little Houdinis and will find any way out of the tank to explore, which leads to their death. Even if your eel has gotten out, chances are it hasn't gotten very far and they can live out of water for 12 hours! It also is wise to keep a lid on the top of your tank because even if your water level is low eels are known to be able to propel their bodies 8 inches out of the water! That is enough to catch the edge of a tank and escape.

Many people will argue the best habitat for an eel, Reef or rock only? Throughout my research I have found that my eel can co-exist in a reef with some of the most gentle, slow, reef fish and corals perfectly! I have never had any encounter where my eel was attacking the corals, or the fish. He has lived very happily in his cave where the fish would actually show signs of aggression towards him! I believe that if you give your eel the proper care you can have them live wherever you'd like. Rock or Reef.


Typically the suggestions for tank mates would be other aggressive fish such as Puffers, Triggers, and even sharks or other eels but I would also suggest smaller fish such as damsels, anemone fishes, and even docile fish like the Mandarin Dragonet! (that would be at an expert only care level though) They make great companions to any reef tank as long as they are well fed and well cared for.

Breeding in captivity is very rare and very hard, most specimen are collected from the wild at young ages, or around 5-8 inches in length.There is also no visible difference between a male or female eel.

Eels tend to be very hardy and not super suceptable to diseases. When they do seem to not be feeling well you can usually soak their food in garlic extract for a few nights and they will kick right back to their normal selves.

Each eel has its own personality so depending on your eel this information can vary for the habitat. Some are more violent and fish seeking, where as some are nice and reef friendly!

Hopefully this guide will be useful to people who want to get an eel or already have one and are looking for some more info! If you have any questions please feel free to ask!
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Sharkie, this is wonderful, thank you so much. You make me watn to get one, think they would like my ponies? :mrgreen:

I got bit by one of these little F**kers at work once. Freakin thing actually drew blood.
Thank you guys! :D

I don't think seahorses would be a good choice.... but i don't think they could be a bad choice either unless they tried to hang onto the eel! LOL.

and thank you sunshine, I think kona is just a handsome little fellow myself :)
Nice job Sharkie I want to get one now. The wifes gonna be pissed:mrgreen:
Nice! Straight and to the point...maybe not so good as it makes us want to have one now. Too bad my kids would throw a fit if he ate their peppermint shrimp Hehehe.
Wonton- Kona lives with 2 peppermint shrimp and 2 skunk cleaner shrimp... one of the skunks got dubbed "hermey" like the dentist offa Ruldolph because he goes INSIDE konas mouth and cleans it!!

Kona seems to enjoy it quite a bit, hes never once tried to eat my live shrimp, only the dead pieces i give him of stuff from the seafood section at the store
my eel wont die and I want it too haha My eel actually eats flake food go figure and will eat any other fish I put next to it except for my sergeant majors who when the eel gets sick I'm sure will eat the eel, it also bit me once and i screamed like a girl, because i didnt see him and I was scrubbing the tank. it made a home in a hob filter and enjoys it, i found him on the ground probably about 4 times and its been a year since, i think he got the point that he cant come out of the tank and play.
little, i'll take him if you don't want him! lol. I've never had a problem with any of my 3 eels... in fact, i love em :) is it a snowy?

I'll be getting a Zebra eel here real quick :D

Kona will chase after flakes if i put em in the tank, he doesn't really eat them tho...
its a snowflake and its not that i want to give him away more like i want him to get old really fast and die... i didnt know when i first bought him that he was going to live so damn long and i want to upgrade to another reef ha
you do know that they can live in reefs right? thats currently where mines at... nice and happy in my reef with damsels, clowns, a mandrin, and shrimp. hes as happy as a clam at that too! it gives him lots of places to hide and i see him all the time now because of it.

if you really don't want him take him back to hte LFS, I think they are great but they arent always good for everyone... they can live a pretty long time even if you decide to stop feeding it....
Sharkie, how does your eel do with inverts? I have a eel in my 90 and have no inverts cause I know eels love them. mmmmmm mmmmm good. But I am now getting hair algie real bad so i either have to get some crabs every couple of weeks cause the eel ate them or give the lil guy a smaller tank
Ribbon eels are like all eels there is a good possability they will eat your cuc or shrimp. They love crustations.