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My snow flake eel is not eating.

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1st tank

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2006
Messages
17
Location
USA - Maryland
Hi everyone,

I inherited a snow flake eel when I bought a used 55 gal salt water tank. He is very small. The tank was very neglected when I got it. The chems were way off, the temp was at 90 deg, only half full of water, etc.

I have had the tank with the eel for a week. They gave me a bag of frozen kril and said that they were hand feeding him. I have been trying to feed the little, but he will not eat. He seems interested, but will not take the food. I tried using my fingers, tweezers, and a bamboo skewer to give him the food. Nothing has worked.

I don't want him to die, I feel like a bad eel mommy :(.
 

jezzeaepi

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
1,316
Location
Seattle
What are your current water parameters?

Steve S is the resident fish expert, so hopefully he can help yah out. Gl with the eel!
 

sryder

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2005
Messages
981
Location
pa
I dont want to mislead but eels can go along time without eating. get your water right and keep trying to feed. does he look healthy?
 

jsmkmavity

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2005
Messages
527
Location
sandpoint idaho
a week or more without eating is normal for a properly fed eel after moving. is it in its same old tank or did you relocate it to a new tank? if its in the old tank monitor ammonia, nitrites and nitrates VERY closely. moving the tank will disturb the system and can lead to cycling spikes similar to a new tank. all these things will affect its behavoir. also if its in a new tank does it have a cave or something to retreat into to feel secure? are you using the same lighting?
 

shallowreef

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
2,457
Location
Palatine, IL
My guess is that the water quality needs to be corrected. If your parameters are still out of whack i would fix that to help narrow down the possible problems.
 

PiR8

New member
Joined
Nov 7, 2006
Messages
1
Location
Illinios
I too inherited a Snowflake (16 in long) he was being fed chunks of chicken in his former house. I started feeding him silversides. I do believe you can get shrimp and cut small pieces as this is a natural food for them, if the silversides are going to be too big for him. Hope this helps.
 

diablo

sand loving outcast
Joined
Jul 12, 2005
Messages
704
Location
seatac
What are silversides?
silversides are a frozen minnow type fish used to feed aggressive carnavore's. you can find them at any saltwater pet store. just look for frozen foods. Or ask and they will get them for you.
 

steve-s

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2003
Messages
2,435
Location
Vancouver, BC
How's the salinity and temp?

nitrate 20.
This could be a tad lower although should not interfere with a feeding response.

I would toss the krill you where given. No telling how old it is and by the state of what you say the tank was, could be contaminated. Try to avoid fish flesh on a regular basis. Lean more toward crustacean flesh as the main stay. Mix it up for variety, clams, mussels, scallops, large shrimp etc. Where possible, try to feed the gut of the animal as well.

Generally speaking, eels do not travel well. This is especially true with older animals. The longer they are removed from their usual environment, the more likely it will be that they refuse food. Sometimes for quite awhile. I have seen them actually just waste away.

Your best bet is to keep the water as top notch as possible, regular weekly (or 2x weekly) water changes. Keep offering the foods once or twice a day. Always from a small distance away, smallish portions and use a feeding stick. Eels have amazingly poor eyesight and hunt via scent. You want them focused on the foods offered not you. All you can do is keep altering the foods until either you find one it likes or it gives from hunger.
 

1st tank

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2006
Messages
17
Location
USA - Maryland
Hi Everyone,

The water temp is 79 and salinity is 1.024.

I am still not having luck getting my snow flake eel to eat. I stopped by the seafood store and got a fresh clam for him to eat because they didn't have an scallops. I cut it into pieces. When I put it in the tank he wanted to eat it and went after it, but he can't seem to work his mouth. He tried to eat it several times, but he can't bite down. His bottom jaw is crooked and doesn't line up to the top jaw. I have seen him open and close his mouth several times before, but sometimes it looks like his jaw is locked up.

Is there any eel specific disease or vitamin deficiancy associated with an eels head or jaw? Or could this be an injury? The people I got him from said he was eating before we got him.

I am really upset because I know he is hungry, but he can't eat.

Lynne
 

steve-s

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2003
Messages
2,435
Location
Vancouver, BC
Lynne,

Is the jaw slack and loose or simply odd looking, especially near/behind the eye area?

This can be a very unfortunate circumstance of bad nutrition and a poorly maintained system. By the sounds of what you describe, either the eel was severely injured or more likely it has a vitamin deficiency which has caused a condition known as goiter. It is very common in animals feed meat only diets or mainly freeze dried/dehydrated foods for too long. Eels, sharks, rays, lions and puffers being the more commonly afflicted.

About the only thing you can do is force feed the eel a vitamin loaded mush meal. Do a google search on force feeding puffers. The technique is the same. I do fear though that the stress of the procedure will be too much for it.

In future, do not feed any marine organism to any of your livestock unless it has been frozen first. The risk of introducing parasites is very high. Place it in the freezer for two weeks minimum. Nothing wrong with feeding fresh frozen but do not feed fresh off the boat.
 

Chubosco

Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
7
Location
Ohio
Feed him some thawed white shrimp (the kind you eat) with anything but your fingers. Even if small they are hit and miss feeders so use tongs. Sometimes mine NAILS the tongs and I can really feel the hit. Just put the shrimp on the end of the tongs and he'll come out if hungry. Their ability to smell is really good. These guys are so simple to take care of. Remember, bite size (his) pieces. Just so you know, mine lives in a reef with shrimp, corals and fish and has never caused a problem. He is sooo fat. They are the least aggressive eels.
 

Chubosco

Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
7
Location
Ohio
Just so you know I am not suggesting putting a snowflake in every reef. Just works for me, they do knock down corals by accident.
 

1st tank

Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2006
Messages
17
Location
USA - Maryland
An update on my little eel. I have been force feeding him for several weeks now. He is getting stronger but he is still not able to use his bottom jaw. I am feeding him blended oysters and shrimp mixed with vitamins.

I am using a 2.88 mm catheter/feeding tube that I picked up from the vets office with a large barrel syringe. The eel is living in a QT tank until he can eat on his own. I pick him up using 2 paper towels with some PolyAqua squirted on them. I also have a shallow dish pan that I transport him from the tank to the kitchen counter. That is the only way I can hold on to the little slippery dude. He is used to the routine now and he doesn't wiggle too much.

He is getting stronger, but he hasn't started to gain any weight yet. His head is still caved in behind his eyes. I was wondering if I should add some cod liver oil or something to his oyster stew. Maybe he isn't getting enough calories. Does anyone have any ideas?
 

dedhed

New member
Joined
Jan 4, 2020
Messages
1
I know your post is 10+ yrs old but I may have a similar issue on my hands. My SFE hasn't been eating and I think he may have the goiter condition Steve described. I'm going to accelerate my water changing schedule and if he doesnt eat tomorrow I plan to start Steve's solution of force feeding a vitamin loaded liquid diet. He last took some shrimp about 2 weeks ago so I am hoping that by acting fast I can save him.

Did your SFE survive force feeding and recover?
 
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