Chainlink Moray Eel

Scientific Name: Echidna catenata
Family: Muraenidae
Size: Maximum size of about 70 centimetres (28 Inches)
Temperature: 22°C – 28°C (72°F – 82°F)
Origin: Both sides of the Atlantic

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Aquarium Conditions: Like other eels, the chainlink moray eel can withstand suboptimal conditions, although poor water quality may cause this eel to stop eating. A 200 litre (55-gallon) aquarium can easily hold a full-grown adult chainlink moray eel, while juveniles can be temporarily held in aquariums as small as 40 litres (10-gallons). Provide suitable crevices and holes for it to refuge in, especially during the daylight hours. Also, a secure top is essential to keep the chainlink moray eel from “slithering about” and ending up dried up under the couch. A pH of 8.1 to 8.4, specific gravity of 1.019 to 1.025 and a water temperature of 22°C – 28°C (72°F – 82°F) will do just fine for the chainlink moray eel.

Diet: The only downside to keeping this crustacean-eater is that it is more likely to require live fiddler crabs or ghost shrimp to induce that initial feeding response. Once the chainlink moray eel feels more at home in its captive lair, most individuals will accept “dead” crustaceans (like pieces of table shrimp or larger frozen krill, which are well-suited for the juvenile chainlink moray eel) or small chunks of marine fish flesh. Patience is the key; offer marine animal flesh on the end of a sharpened piece of airline tubing, moving the piece of food slowly in front on the chainlink moray eel’s head and wait for it to grab the food.

Difficulty to keep: The chainlink moray eel is a fairly durable member of the clan. The initial difficulty of keeping this specimen is to induce its feeding responses. It is also obviously necessary to ensure that your aquarium is “escape proof” as this is the Houdini of the marine world and you wouldn’t want to walk up to a dried eel on the floor.

Physical Description: The base colour of the Chainlink Moray Eel can be a dirty white, creamy or even yellowish. On top of this, there is a darker latticed pattern that helps the chainlink moray eel disappear among rocks, sea grass and the glitter lines present in the shallow waters where it normally lives. The chainlink moray eels teeth are not the sharp, dagger like teeth found in the stereotypical moray (like those evil moray caricatures seen in Hollywood films). Instead, the chainlink moray eel has molar-like teeth that are used to crush the exoskeleton of its crab prey. The chainlink moray eel reaches a maximum length of 70 centimetres (28 Inches).

Range: The chainlink moray eel is found on both sides of the Atlantic. The specimens found in the aquarium trade come from Floridian reefs, Central America and Brazil. The chainlink moray eel is often found in shallow water (usually in less than 12 metres) moving along rocky shorelines in search of its favourite food. While the chainlink moray eel usually stays close to shelter (rocks and coral) during the day, it will move out onto sand expanses to hunt at night.

Compatibility: Because of the Chainlink moray eel’s specialized diet, it is one of the more fish-friendly morays. That is not to say larger specimens can always resist a smaller fish, especially a fish that is distressed or newly added to an aquarium that the moray eel already calls home. The chainlink moray eel can be kept with other morays but be aware that some of the more piscivorous (fish eating) eels (e.g., the Honey comb eel, Gymnothorax favagineus and Spotted moray eel, Gymnothorax moringa) will eat a chainlink moray eel or may even bite it in two. That said, the Chainlink Moray Eel does well with more docile eels, such as the snowflake moray eel (Echidna nebulosa), and with predatory fish (e.g., lionfish, groupers, hawkfish) that are not large enough to swallow this eel whole (a grouper or even a frogfish may eat a juvenile chainlink moray eel). The chainlink moray eel will usually behave itself in an aquarium that is home to larger butterflyfish, angelfish, surgeonfish and rabbitfish. Triggerfish and puffer fish may cause problems — they have been known to bite at chainlink moray eels.

Care Consideration: Besides potential problems with feeding and its constant attempts for wanting to escape out of a hole in the aquarium cover, the chainlink moray eel is almost indestructible and can live for a couple of decades in the home aquarium.

Breeding: The chainlink moray eel is not likely to spawn in the home aquarium

Overall: The Chainlink Moray Eel is the perfect eel specimen for the hobbyist that wants to introduce an eel to their angelfish or surgeonfish aquarium as this species of eel is the more fish-friendly species and will not attack your fish unless they are small. It has beautiful colouration and will definitely add that spark or personality to your aquarium.