The ribbon eel is a saltwater species of moray eel. These eels, known in the scientific community as Rhinomuraena quaesita, are the only member of their genus. The different color variations of ribbon eels were previously considered separate species, but scientists have since determined that they are the same creature.
Ribbon eels have long, thin bodies with several fins and projections. But what makes them an attractive choice for some aquarium owners is their bright color. While juveniles are typically all black, adults develop bold blue and yellow coloration. The blue variation is an electric blue with bright yellow accents around the mouth and on the dorsal fin.
Ribbon eels are carnivores that prey on small fish and other marine creatures that swim too close to their caves and hiding spots. Ribbon eels are a species that can change sex during their lifetime. All female ribbon eels are actually males that have changed sex when it became necessary in their region.
Ribbon eels can be found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are primarily found in lagoons or coastal reefs. Ribbon eels tend to dwell in small caves, under sand or mud, or hidden in other openings in the rock. These eels tend to stay put in the same area and have been known to inhabit the same hole for years. They are not particularly territorial against other ribbon eels, so two males will sometimes share the same hole.
Caring for Ribbon Eels
Ribbon eels can be a difficult species to keep in a home aquarium, so anyone considering purchasing one should research tank requirements first. These eels need special care. They may refuse to feed in captivity if they do not feel comfortable in their settings. The first thing to do when preparing an aquarium is to put a layer of sand and coral rubble on the bottom and a pile of rocks to one side. PVC pipe can be used to create artificial cave systems for the eels. These features will mimic the natural hiding spots of the ribbon eel and make it feel more comfortable.
Live feeder fish, such as mollies or guppies, are necessary to entice your eels to eat. Partitioning off part of the tank during feeding will make sure that plenty of the food is near the eel’s preferred hiding spot. Keep in mind that eels do have a unique ability to escape the aquarium, so make sure that all outlets are secured before introducing them to the tank.
Kimberly A. Smith has been a freelance writer for two years. She graduated from the University of California at Davis and the California Culinary Academy, then pursued a career baking wedding cakes. During her time at CCA, she received certification in nutrition and food safety. She currently attends the University of Oregon School of Law.