Tanganyikan Spiny Eel
Endemic to Lake Tanganyika.
This species generally found around the shores of the lake, most often in the intermediate zones where the rocks start to give way to sandier substrates.
Maximum Standard Length
Aquarium SizeTop ↑
Use piles of rocks to form sheltered areas. It is essential that the tank base is covered in a layer of sand, as the fish spends much of it’s time burrowed in the substrate. Gravel is not recommended as its sharp edges can damage the eel’s skin. There should also be no strong currents in the aquarium. Dim lighting is preferable if you want to see your eel regularly, as it is a nocturnal species by nature.
Temperature: 73-81°F (23-27°C)
Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑
Peaceful with species it cannot fit into its mouth. Not suitable for most freshwater tanks due to its hard, alkaline water requirements. It is best kept in a Tanganyikan community, where it can be combined with any species too large to be considered food. It tends to be territorial with conspecifics, so a large tank is required if more than one is to be kept.
Has not been bred in the hobby.
M. ellipsifer is a stunning eel that makes a nice ‘alternative’ species for the Tanganyikan community tank. The species in the family Mastacembelidae are known as “spiny” eels because the dorsal rays are very hard. Care must therefore be exercised when handling them to avoid injuries. The swim bladder in these eels has also disappeared completely, an adaptation to their bottom-dwelling lifestyle. The African species such as this one can be distinguished from their Asian relatives by the conjoined dorsal, caudal and anal fins, whereas the Asian species have a distinct caudal fin.