Snowflake eels reach up to 3 feet or 36 inches in length in the wild. In contrast, their average size in captivity is 2 feet or 24 inches in length. However, adequate nutrition, pristine water conditions, and stress-free habitat stimulate better growth in your snowflake eel.
Let’s now understand in more detail how big snowflake eels grow.
How Big Do Snowflake Eels Grow in The Wild?
Snowflake eels are reef dwellers that inhabit the caves and crevices across the Indo-Pacific region.
These predatory eels can grow up to 3 feet or 36 inches in length in their natural habitat.
Snowflake eels have poor vision. However, they have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to ambush their prey.
These eels are nocturnal hunters that wait for crustaceans, small fish, and other invertebrates to come closer.
Once they detect the smell, they attack and devour their prey.
What Is the Average Size of Snowflake Eels in An Aquarium?
Snowflake eels grow up to 2 feet or 24 inches long in aquariums, which is smaller than the average size they attain in their natural environment.
However, they can grow longer with a proper carnivorous diet enriched with vitamins and protein.
Stable water parameters can also assist this eel’s growth in captivity.
They’re one of the easiest eel species to keep in an aquarium.
Despite their predatory diet, snowflake eels are easygoing and get along well with various fish species.
To assist their growth, you must keep them in a large aquarium with enough room to move around freely.
Also, it’s best to mimic their natural reef environment in your home aquarium.
These large-sized eels are known as escape artists.
So buying a tank with a tight-fitting top can help prevent these eels from getting into your sump or, worse, on the floor.
5 Factors that Affect the Growth of Snowflake Eels in Marine Aquariums
Snowflake eels grow much longer in their natural habitat than in marine aquariums.
This is because there are numerous factors that lead to stressful conditions in marine aquariums, which lead to stunted growth.
Given below are the main factors that affect a snowflake eel’s growth in marine aquariums.
1. Improper Tank Size
Many aquarists make the mistake of housing snowflake eels in aquariums smaller than 40 gallons.
Small tanks can stunt the growth of these eels.
Snowflake eels aren’t active compared to other marine fish species.
However, these enormous eels need plenty of hiding places to feel comfortable and secure.
Housing them in a small aquarium can create unnecessary stress.
This will compromise their immune system, affecting their health and growth.
2. Poor Diet
An inadequate or poor diet can cause nutrient deficiencies and affect the ability of snowflake eels to use other nutrients properly.
It can also adversely affect their growth.
Moreover, it can weaken their immune system and make them susceptible to diseases.
Insufficient food will make them weak, which can be fatal.
So you need to have adequate knowledge about the dietary requirements and feeding patterns of snowflake eels before keeping them in your aquarium.
3. Unstable Water Parameters
Snowflake eels are messy eaters. They have razor-sharp teeth, which they use to bite and rip their prey apart.
As a result, the food can scatter all over the tank, making it difficult to clean up after feeding.
If the uneaten food starts rotting, it will spike the toxin levels and destabilize the water conditions.
Continuous exposure to unstable water parameters will stress these eels and impact their growth.
4. Inappropriate Tank Environment
Snowflake eels are notorious for sneaking out of improperly sealed aquariums.
Most eels sustain fatal injuries while trying to escape their tanks.
These eels are also timid and spend their time hiding under rocks, caves, or crevices in the reef.
The absence of a suitable environment inside the tank can stress them.
This will directly impact their immune system, resulting in poor growth and development.
5. Incompatible Tankmates
Snowflake eels shouldn’t be paired with crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp, and lobsters because they’re the natural diet of these eels.
Smaller fish such as goldfish and damsel fish also shouldn’t be housed with snowflake eels as these semi-aggressive eels will devour them.
Moreover, they shouldn’t be housed with large, aggressive marine fish that can bully them.
This can stress the snowflake eels, making them resort to hiding and even skipping feeding sessions which will result in poor nutrition and growth.
5 Ways to Improve the Size of Snowflake Eels in Captivity
Snowflake eels can reach an average size of 24 inches in captivity, less than the snowflake eels living in the wild.
However, you can improve their development by providing sufficient nutrition, clean water conditions, and a stress-free living environment.
Given below are the main ways to improve the size of snowflake eels in captivity.
1. Get a Large Aquarium
Snowflake eels need a lot of room once they grow fully. So the first step you need to take is to buy an appropriate-sized aquarium.
A 75-gallon aquarium is best for keeping an adult eel. Anything smaller can compromise the space required by these large eels.
This is because you will need to place other things inside the tank to mimic their natural habitat, which will take up space.
A large aquarium will offer enough room for these eels to swim freely, which will make them feel comfortable and help in attaining maximum growth.
2. Provide Adequate Nutrition
The objective of feeding your eels is to cater to the nutritional needs to facilitate growth, optimal health, and longevity.
A healthy diet contributes to increased weight gain and healthy fish development.
So offering a healthy meal at least two to three times a week is essential.
In a captive environment, you can feed them a carnivorous diet consisting of frozen or freeze-dried clams, krill, octopus, shrimp, scallops, and other meaty food fortified with vitamins.
3. Maintain the Tank
A robust filter is a prerequisite in a snowflake eel tank.
These eels are messy eaters, so a robust filtration system will help maintain stable water parameters inside the reef tank.
A protein skimmer must also be used to remove the dissolved organic matter from the aquarium before it rots and affects the water quality.
Regular tank maintenance is also necessary as it will help maintain stable water conditions that will facilitate proper growth and improved lifespan.
4. Design Proper Tank Layout
Snowflake eels live in a reef environment in their natural habitat.
Therefore, the tank must be filled with many live rocks and aquatic plants to create a coral reef-like habitat.
These eels have poor vision.
So it’s essential to keep the tank bottom uncluttered so that snowflake eels can move freely inside the reef tank.
It’s also essential to seal the tank securely to prevent snowflake eels from escaping.
Providing a proper setup will make them happy and stimulate better growth.
5. Keep Compatible Tankmates
Snowflake eels can be kept with fish of similar size and temperament.
Living with compatible tankmates will eliminate stress, which is essential to achieve maximum growth.
They shouldn’t be kept with crustaceans and small fish as these semi-aggressive eels will devour them.
You can keep snowflake eels with large peaceful fish species.
You can also house anemones, starfish, sea urchins, and other invertebrates because they’re not part of these eels’ diet.
Sea stars and sea urchins are also known to feast on algae, leftover food, and tank waste.
This will help eliminate waste and improve water quality.