Peacock Eel

Facts about the Peacock Eel

The peacock eel is a member of the spiny eel family, and is sometimes called a Siamese spiny eel. It’s in the Mastacembelidae family and the fish’s scientific name is Macrognathus sianensis. The peacock eel looks very eel-like but is smaller than many other members of its family.

Wild ones will grow to be around one-foot long but those kept as pets in an aquarium usually top out at approximately six inches. The peacock eel is brown, with a very light stomach, light brown sides and a dark brown back. A very narrow yellow line goes from the snout to the caudal fin. Both the caudal and dorsal fins have five eye spots.

The peacock eel originated and lives in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Sumatra, where it lives on the bottom of rivers which have dense vegetation and are quite slow-moving. These eels are nocturnal and spend the night foraging for food. At other times they prefer to bury themselves in sand and gravel on the bottom of the river with only their heads visible.

As for food, a peacock eel in the wild will eat crustaceans, worms and larvae. If you decide to keep one of these eels in your aquarium, you will get the best results by keeping the eel on a diet of live food. Blood worms, earthworms, cyclops, brine shrimp and mosquito larvae are all going to work well. Don’t count on your eel being okay with eating frozen food.

Many peacock eels will only feed on live food. As for the size of an aquarium, if your eel is six inches long, it will need an aquarium double that size, or twelve inches long, with a capacity for twenty gallons of water. If your peacock eel grows to be larger than six inches, you will need to get a larger aquarium. Make sure your tank has a cover that fits tightly because these eels will try to escape given the chance.

This eel needs to have very warm water with a continuous temperature of between 73 and 82 degrees. You need to get your water to resemble its natural environment as much as possible. Adding a little salt to the water is not a bad idea, and you should strive for a pH of 7.0 and a dH of 10. As the fish normally lives in waters with dense vegetation, you should make sure you have plenty of plants in the bottom of your tank. They also need lots of places for shelter and hiding such as rocks or wood. PVC piping can make an excellent hiding place.

Unlike other fish in the spiny eel family, the peacock eel is easy for beginners to maintain. They are very peaceful fish which are well-suited to community tanks. In fact, they spend all of their time on the bottom of the tank and usually completely ignore other fish in the aquarium. They will even be happy living in the same tank with others of their own species. 

It is pretty much impossible to tell a male peacock eel from a female one. If your goal is to breed them, you should know that this eel has never been bred in captivity. Only a very few spiny eels of any type have been bred in an aquarium. If you want to give it a try the only thing you can do is get several peacock eels and house them in a very large tank. High quality food and a continuous supply of clean water is about all you can do as no one knows what will stimulate breeding.