Food Facts: What Do Eels Eat? What Food Gives Eels Energy?

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 06, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Oct 15, 2021
eels resemble snakes but are fish

Although eels resemble snakes, they are actually fish.

Conger or genuine eels (Conger conger) belong to the Congridae family, which also contains congers and garden eels. Only the Anguilliformes order contains true eels.

True eels have an interesting life history feature called catadromy, in which they spend most of their lives in freshwater then migrate to the ocean to breed.

The appearance of an eel is an elongated fish body with lengths ranging from 2 in (5.1 cm)  for the one-jawed eel (Monognathus ahlstromi) to 13 ft (4 m) for the slender gigantic moray (Strophidon sathete).

An adult eel weighs anything from 1 oz (28.3 g) to more than 55 lb (24.9 kg).

These creatures lack pelvic fins, and many species lack pectoral fins as well. From Venezuela to Greenland and Iceland, eels live along the Atlantic coast as their preferred habitats.

When eels swim, they create waves that travel the length of their bodies. They can swim backwards by reversing the wave's direction. Eels can live for up to 70 years, depending on the species. However, most eel species do not live for more than 30 years.

The electric eel is a knifefish related to carp and catfish, not a genuine eel that lives in South America. An electric eel's electric discharge can reach more than 500 volts. The electric charge is used by the eel to ward off predators and grab prey.

Electric eels use specific cells to create their electric charge. They have attacked and killed humans. It has the potential to inflict long-term harm to humans.

It seems you are interested in reading animal fun fact articles. Take a look at our other fun fact articles what do katydids eatandwhat do crawdads eat on Kidadl.

What do eels eat in the ocean?

Eels are generally predatory fish that live on eating carnivorous food and are occasionally cannibalistic. Smaller fish, invertebrate creatures, crabs, and sea urchins are among their favorite foods.

Eels typically eat everything they can fit into their mouth. They won't go for animals of the same size. Invertebrates, crustaceans, crabs, and sea urchins make up the majority of an eel's diet. They are able to surprise their target marine animals by hiding amid the corals.

Smaller fish are prey as well. Some eels go back and forth between freshwater and saltwater habitats. Eels may eat a broader variety of food in these different settings, including mosquito larvae and bugs.

Spiny and freshwater eels will consume carrion and will take frozen bloodworms and tubifex worms as food, however, eel prefers live marine animals.

As adult American and European eels reside in rivers, creeks, ponds, and lakes, their predators are species that also exist there. Large fish-eating birds such as eagles, herons, cormorants, and ospreys are among them.

Some fish-eating mammals, such as raccoons, consume freshwater eels. Predators come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the species and its size. Larger fish, sea birds (such as herons and storks), and mammals (such as raccoons and humans) consume this animal in general.

Do eels eat fish?

As eels are predatory mammals with carnivorous diets, they can become cannibalistic. Their favorite foods are smaller fish, invertebrate animals, crabs, and sea urchins. Insect larvae, particularly mosquito larvae, and bugs are consumed by those in watery environments. Adult electric eels consume fish and amphibians, while juveniles eat invertebrate species like crabs as they are carnivores.

Crickets, small fish, brine shrimp, plankton, earthworms, mealworms, blood worms, and tubifex worms are all consumed by striped peacock eels. Frogs, mollusks, and insects are all eaten by short-finned eels. Fish are eaten by dragon eels, but they also devour squid and octopus.

Meat, live shrimp, and feeder fish are all favorites of garden eels. Shrimps, mollusks, and other eels are eaten by moray eels. One of the main characteristics of this eel is that it hunts by scent, hiding and ambushing its victim.

As an adult, American eels live in fresh or brackish water before migrating to the ocean to breed. Frogs, insects, and dead animals are all part of the diet of this eel. Female American eels may hold up to 30 million eggs in their bodies. Eels only have one breeding season throughout their lives.

Most species of swamp eels can breathe air and prefer to dwell in marshes, rivers, ponds, and other muddy environments, occasionally burying themselves in the mud if their water source runs dry.

Small fish, seaweed, tiny crustaceans and invertebrates, plants, octopus, and squid are all eaten by the gulper eel, which is also known as the pelican eel or umbrella mouth gulper.

Eels feed by scooping food into their big, wide jaws.

Because eels are more active at night, they require caves or other rocks fissure to hide from predators during the day.

How do eels eat?

Eels consume by scooping food into their huge, gaping jaws.

Snowflake eels have a blunt tooth that is designed to crush food like snails, crabs, and shrimps that have shells. Sharp, pointed teeth are used by moray eels to capture and retain live prey. Because a moray eel has small teeth, a moray eel prefers to devour smaller food, but it may also eat larger animals.

Eels consume crustaceans, insects, and tiny bugs. They may consume fresh or frozen squid, feeder fish, or other foodstuffs in captivity. Researchers have witnessed moray eels foraging for food with grouper fish in a cooperative manner.

An eel eats by scooping foodstuff into its huge, gaping jaws. Because of their tiny teeth, these eels prefer to devour smaller food, although they may also eat larger animals.

What do pet eels eat?

Although pet eels may consume meat such as beef hearts, it is recommended to offer your eel a diet consisting of a fishmeal-type diet.

High-protein pellets and pastes, which may contain items like cow livers, tubifex worms, and fish meal, are an excellent choice. Tubifex worms, chopped clam, and fish meal can be fed to young eels or elvers.

These may be found at any local pet store. A word of caution: do not attempt to feed your eel by hand because they have poor eyesight and may bite you instead.

Feed eels once a day, generally in the evening. Some have a type of tooth that allows them to crush their prey. Some eels refuse to eat and only eat once every two to three weeks.

What can't you feed an eel?

Consuming human foodstuff like bread instead of the items available in its habitat may cause damage to eels. It might induce malnutrition and illness.

These eel species eat a variety of plants, insects, and other small marine species in their natural habitat. They consider bread to be junk food that shouldn't be eaten.

Toxic proteins are found in the blood of moray eels and many other eels. Ichthyotoxins, which literally means 'fish poisons', is the most common name for them. They are among the earliest poisonous compounds discovered in marine animals. They should not be fed it since it contains additional poison.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do eel eats then why not take a look at what do salmon eat or eel facts?

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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