Marine Biology

Fish Profiles Electric Eels



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The electric eel is an electric fish. The scientific name for this fish is Electrophorus electricus. It is the only species, that the genus Electrophorus contains. It uses strong electric shocks as a means of protection and for hunting prey. It lives in the waters of South America and is a freshwater fish. The electric eel is considered to be a apex predator. This means that it is a predator that has no natural predators of its own. This puts it at the top of the food chain.

The electric eel can produce a shock that is strong enough to stun a human. While the electric eel has an eel-like appearance, it is not a true eel. It is a knifefish. Knifefish are a group of fish that have a long pointed shape that looks like a knife. The electric organs of the fish are contained in the tail. It can release up to 650 volts.

With an astonishing length of up to nine feet and a weight that can reach forty-nine pounds, the electric fish is indeed an amazing feat of nature. The electric eel is a member of the Gymnotiformes. The Gymnotiformes is a teleost (or ray finned) bony fish.

The electric eel is a dark grayish brown color on the back and a yellowish or orange belly. The adult males of the species have a darker coloring on the belly. They do not have scales. They have a large squarish mouth that is located right at the end of the mouth. The anal fin goes along the entire length of the body to the tail. The swim bladder of the electric eel has two chambers, like those of other ostariophysan, the second largest suborder of fish.

The electric eel has a very good sense of hearing. They are also air breathing fish, that rise to the surface about every ten minutes. They take in up to 80% of their oxygen in this manner.

There are three organs that make up the electrical system of the electric eel. They compose about three fifths of the fish's body. The organs are the Main organs, the Hunter's organ and the Sach's organ. Electrocytes flow through these organs to create the electrical charges both low and high voltage. The eel seems to be able to regulate the intensity of the voltage used for hunting and self defense.

The electric eel eats vertabrates, small fish and mammals. Older hatchlings will sometimes eat the newer eggs and embryos of their own species.

Electric eels are usually only kept in zoos or aquariums. They are kept by some private owners, but it is difficult. They should never be placed in tanks with other species of fish, as they will kill them. The only way to catch them safely is to provoke them to attack and discharge all of the electricity in their bodies. They will eventually run down and need to recharge before they can attack again.

This unusual species of fish has been reclassified several times.

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