There are about 800 species in the whole wide world, living in either freshwater or saltwater habitats. Though their narrow, elongated bodies make them look like snakes, eels are actually fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes. They also come with long dorsal fins and anal fins, both are characteristic of fish.
More About Eels
Most eels are predatory animals, and they ambush their prey through sneak attacks coming from reefs or rocky cervices, burrowing under the mud or sand. Some eels however, prefer active hunting by reaching through the holes and hideouts of their prey.
Eels start their life as miniscule and transparent larva. They remain in this form for around 6 to 12 months. Throughout that time, they stay afloat in the open seas until they reach adulthood and be able to swim to their preferred habitat.
Eels, like lobsters, were once considered a cheap food, making them a staple food for coastal fishermen. Elvers (young eels undergoing mass migration to the river from the sea) are now considered special delicacy that comes with hefty price.
About Electric Eels
Electric eels are probably the most recognized. However, despite their narrow and elongated body that resembles an eel, electric eels are actually NOT eels. Rather, they’re scientifically classified as fishes belonging to the species of catfishes and carps.
Interesting Electric Eel Facts
Like real eels, electric eels are predatory animals, meaning they hunt down and kill other species (often smaller animals) for food. They’re carnivorous as well, meaning they eat meat, and they love to hunt amphibians, smaller fish, smaller birds, and even small mammals.
They derived their name from their “electrical charge” capability, which they use to stun their prey and avoid their predators. They have more than 6000 special electric organs called electrocytes, which stores electric power like a battery. When provoked, agitated, or hunting its prey, electric eels can produce a shock of up to 860 V for a couple of seconds, enough to stun their prey or predator. Though such electric energy is not enough to be deadly for humans due to the short discharge duration, it can be quite painful, with an effect likened to a stun gun.
Eels live in muddy and shallow waters, and due to their complex respiratory system, they need to surface every ten minutes to breathe atmospheric air. Also, they prefer to live alone.
Electric eels can grow to as much as 8 feet and weight up to a massive 44 lbs.
Electric eels can come in black, white, blue, grey or purple color. The long and cylindrical body is of course, given.
Despite their amazing abilities, the also have limitations in their natural ability. They have poor eyesight, making it difficult for them to see in the water. They however, use their electric shock (they use low-level shock of up to 10V though) to help them feel their surroundings and locate their prey.
What is even more amazing about electric eels is their long lifespan. In the wild, they can live up to 15 years, and more than 22 years in captivity.