If you are thinking about adding a unique and absolutely gorgeous living creature inside your saltwater aquarium, Ribbon Eel should come to mind. Unlike other eels that are considered plain or ugly in appearance, this eel is definitely the opposite. As a part of Moray Eels species, this eel has striking and unique color combo of yellow and blue. The color is one of the biggest appeals of the eel, but there is something elegant and majestic about the eel if you want to take a closer look and observe it. Be sure that the eel will be the center of attention once you put it into your aquarium. It is going to be the star of your fish tank!
Ribbon Eel Quick Facts
Here are some interesting facts about this gorgeous colored eel. The scientific name is Rhinomuraena Quaesita, but its popular name is Blue Ribbon Eel. In some places, it is even called the Back Eel. The eel can grow up to 3 feet, even 4 feet. That’s why you should have a fish tank of at least 75 gallons to accommodate the eel.
You need to know that this eel is an aggressive creator. In fact, it is a predator. It’s not a good idea (and also a smart move) to put it together with other creatures. Yes, for a saltwater fish tank, this one is meant as a lone wolf. The eel is popular because of its unique blue and yellow combination of color, with a little touch of black too. The eel is most active during the day. It takes an expert care level, so it isn’t not for beginners. In terms of lifespan, this Blue Ribbon Eel can last for decades, but it happens in the wild. Unfortunately, when they are put in captivity, their lifespan would be shorter.
This type of eel is native in Indo-Pacific Ocean. Scuba divers often report to spot this eel because they are pretty ‘bold’. Their numbers are quite many in the natural wild setting. Often times, they are spotted hiding in the rocks and wait for their preys. Often times, they will poke out their heads while waiting for their next ‘meal’. It’s not hard to find them and identify them. When you see them swimming, you’d know that you have seen the Blue Ribbon.
Aquarium Conditions (the Proper Ones)
In order to stay healthy (and happy), these eels need a certain aquarium parameters that can imitate the quality of ocean water. The ideal (water) parameter would be having a temperature between 78 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The level of salinity should be between 1.023 and 1.025. The pH level should be between 8 to 8.2, while the level of nitrites, ammonia, and nitrates should be as low as possible. The lowest you can manage it, the better it would be.
Imagine how the Blue Ribbon Eel lives in the wild. They like to play hide-and-seek among the rocks; often poking out their heads from the holes or crevices to see whether their prey is close or far. While poking their heads out, they let their bodies stay inside. It would be still tucked away and being hidden away in the rock.
This is one of the reasons why space, and also having places to hide and ‘play, is important in caring this eel. They really love to hide and move around the live rock, making use of the spaces behind and between. They like to stay comfortable and not being stressed out inside the fish tank. Keep in mind that they do like their ENTIRE body to be completely hidden from sight.
A word of advice
With the eels writhing and wriggling between the live rocks, it is possible that it would re-arrange the rock. As the eel moves, it may knock some pieces down, causing (collateral) damages to your corals. You don’t want to have other things being accidentally crushed and damaged by the falling rock. So, if you are going to put the eel here, make sure to zip tie those rocks together. Drill holes in unseen parts and also the back side of the tank to secure them.
You may also need to learn that Blue Ribbon Eel is the master of escape artists. They are even considered the best among other saltwater fish. They can use their narrow body structure to fit nicely (and quite comfortably) into tight and small spaces, even the ones that seem impossible. They may even want to try the spaces on the outside part of the tank. This is the reason why you should have a fish tank with a lid. Make sure that you have a tight and secured-fitting lid to keep the eel. You don’t want to find your gorgeous eel lying on the floor.
Feeding the eel is another challenge that not all aquarists can master. In fact, the biggest challenge is to get them to eat. This eel is notorious as picky eater. As a predatory carnivore, they don’t just eat as they prefer eating small and live fish. Even among the circle of picky eater, this Ribbon Eel has its own (negative) reputation for being the most difficult and the pickiest. Imagine the difficulty of compatibility issues. You need to carefully pick the fish that are meant to be friends, not food for the eel. Acclimating the eel is considered difficult and challenging too, especially in captivity.
The eel has sharp teeth with rows of them function to hold and shred. When they bite, it can cause serious pain and injury. It is advisable that you ask the local fish store to demonstrate how they feed the eel. These eels should be trained to consume small pieces of seafood or table food fish from the feeding stick. If they can’t show you how to do it, then you may want to reconsider your option. After the small fish, the local fish store should also demonstrate you how to feed the eel the mollies, live guppies, or damselfish. Use the feeding stick to feed the eel. Never use your hand. The eel has terribly bad vision. It is highly likely that they may bite you. Remember about their sharp teeth?
Grow a Blue Ribbon Eel
Imake sure that you really know what to do. You may want to create your own plan, especially concerning the feeding process. If you aren’t careful, this creature is often starved to death. You also need to have the extra patience, time, and also effort to train them to get foods. You can consider having them in a smaller fish tank having around 30 gallons of water. This would help you maintain high concentration for the feeder fish. It helps you getting used to their habit. The eel can learn to eat well (and properly) as well as acclimating themselves to a home aquarium’s life. It is also helpful to train the eel to take new foods before you can finally release the eel to the bigger tank.
It’s not a good idea to keep the eel with other smaller creatures, especially those with smaller sizes that fit just nicely into the eel’s mouth. It’s not a smart thing to do to keep cleaner shrimp or Blue Devil Damselfish or fire shrimp with the eel. In fact, it is a good idea to keep a big and aggressive fish that doesn’t look tempting for your eel to eat. Big here means that it won’t fit into the eel’s mouth.
Can you have two eels together in the tank? Well, it is always possible. There are reports that they are pretty compatible toward each other. But you need to introduce them together and then carefully monitor them for any sign of excessive aggression.
Reproduction and Gender
When the Blue Ribbon Eel gets bigger and it reaches the full maturity, you should be able to differentiate the male and the female, especially when you put them side-by-side. Females are typically bigger than the males. These eels are basically protandric hermaphrodite. Just like the Clownfish, the eel starts out as all males. When they are mature and if there is no female eel in the ‘group’, then the dominant male would go through a metamorphosis process so it can become a female. So, what happens when the female dies? Another dominant male would undergo the metamorphosis transformation to become the female.
Buying the Eel
Blue Ribbon Eel isn’t exactly easy to find at the local fish stores. It’s a difficult creature so most fish stores simply avoid the eel; they just don’t want to have the eels that can give them a headache. You need to find the store and do your own research. When you already find one, then find out how the owner feed the eel. You should also watch how he feeds the eel with the foods. It shouldn’t be surprising to find a shop importing one of the eels, but they don’t make the eel eat within their set-up. You should also keep in mind that this eel is pretty costly. In general, it will cost you more than $100. The price range also applies to online store.
But then again, if you think that buying the eel has given you a lot of issue and a headache, then you haven’t hit the biggest problem: keeping it alive. It is a part of the challenge as well as the charm. If you like the excitement and the challenge, be my guest. But if you don’t have the time, patience, and determination, you may end up being frustrated for keeping the gorgeous creature.
Buying Blue Ribbon Eel or Not?
Are you an experienced and advanced aquarist? Are you willing to undergo all the challenges, including the stress? Do you have the patience? Do you have the resources? If you already have a full and packed aquarium, then adding the eel won’t be a good idea. The eel can be a handful. If you don’t mind going through all of those challenges, and you seriously want an attractive creature in your aquarium, then this one will be a perfect option. Having extra efforts to learn about the Blue Ribbon Eel will be rewarding.