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The Leopard Moray Eel is a remarkable species that is the only moray eel species that is widely considered to truly live long-term in freshwater!
The Leopard Moray Eel (Gymnothorax polyuranodon), also known as the Tiger or Blackspotted Moray Eel, is a very uncommon species that is native to Northern Australia and other areas in the Indo-Pacific region. Unlike other "freshwater" moray species that simply venture temporarily into freshwater habitats near estuaries (but must eventually return to brackish or marine water), the Leopard Moray Eel has been observed to live and grown long-term in full freshwater conditions. In the wild, it is often found several miles upstream from any salinity, though it is widely believed that its fry develop to juvenile size in brackish or marine water before migrating to freshwater to continue the life cycle. There are also reports that this species lives in landlocked ponds and lakes in some cases. It is also commonly found in brackish water and can live in full marine water in some cases as well.
The Leopard Moray Eel is primarily nocturnal and requires driftwood, rockwork, and other hiding places such as PVC tubing. It is not a particularly aggressive fish, but it will eat fish and invertebrates that are small enough to be considered prey. It will generally ignore all other tankmates. It will typically inhabit a crevice as its main territory. It is compatible with others of its own species as long as they are of comparable size, and it is generally safe with other large, durable fish that enjoy harder water and alkaline pH. The Leopard Moray Eel requires a large aquarium with plenty of floor space and powerful filtration.
Moray eels are master escape artists that are not afraid to leave the water, so a tight-fitting lid is necessary to prevent them from escaping the aquarium. If they escape the aquarium, they will typically die from lack of moisture before suffocating. If they are found before being outside of the aquarium for too long, they can be returned to the aquarium and moved gently in an attempt to restart their breathing and return moisture to their bodies.
Feeding is challenging for the Leopard Moray Eel. It feeds on small fish and invertebrates in the wild, and it is typically finicky when first introduced to the aquarium. It should be offered small live fish (such as guppies) that are free of parasites or disease, small shrimp, and frozen meaty foods such as bloodworms. Moray eels can often go weeks without eating with no long-term harm, so patience is required with new specimens. In time, the Leopard Moray Eel will often accept other meaty non-live foods. This species has very sharp teeth and can deliver a very serious bite as it approaches its impressive adult size. It should never be hand-fed. Skewering food items on a feeding stick is a highly preferred feeding method for moray eels.
What We Like About This Fish:
- Incredible coloration
- Rare in the aquarium hobby
- Exceptional oddball fish
- Impressive size
- Lives long-term in freshwater
RECOMMENDED TANK PARAMETERS:
- Temperature: 78° - 84° F (26° - 29° C)
- pH: 7..5 - 8.0
- KH: 8 - 20 dKH
- Minimum tank size: 150-200+ gallons for an adult
- Diet: Carnivorous. Requires a variety of meaty live, frozen, and dry foods. New specimens will typically only eat live food
- Social behavior: Peaceful with species too large to be considered prey
- Origin: Indo-Pacific
Average adult size: Up to 59 inches (150 cm), but 36-39 inches (91 - 99 cm) is much more likely
Average purchase size: 8 - 12 inches (20 - 30 cm)
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