Peacock Eel Care: A Friendly Guide for Enthusiasts

The peacock eel (Macrognathus siamensis) is a charming freshwater fish that boasts an impressive blend of colors and unique features. With a myriad of common names, such as the Siamese spiny eel, spot-finned spiny eel, and striped peacock eel, this aquatic creature is sure to delight you with its fascinating appearance and captivating behaviors.

Originating from Southeast Asia, the peacock eel thrives in sandy, warm, and densely vegetated freshwater habitats, bringing a touch of exotic beauty to aquariums all over the world. In this article, we will guide you through the essentials of properly caring for these striking fish and creating an ideal environment for their survival and well-being. So, let’s get acquainted with the mesmerizing world of peacock eels together!

Species Profile

The Peacock Eel, also known as Spotfin Spiny Eel, is a fascinating freshwater fish. Its unique appearance and peaceful temperament make it an excellent addition to your home aquarium. Let’s get to know this beautiful species a little better.

Property Information
Scientific Name Macrognathus siamensis
Common Names Peacock Eel, Spotfin Spiny Eel
Distribution Southeast Asia
Size Up to 12 inches (30 cm)
Lifespan 8-18 years
Diet Carnivore
Temperament Peaceful
Minimum Tank Size 35 gallons (132 liters)
Temperature 73-82°F (23-28°C)
pH 6.0-7.5
Water Hardness 5-15 dGH
Care Level Moderate
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate
Water Type Freshwater
Breeding Egg layer
Breeding Difficulty Difficult
Compatibility Community with similarly sized fish

Nocturnal by nature, Peacock Eels are most active during the night, hiding in dense vegetation or burrowing in the substrate during the day. Keep in mind, they are sensitive to water quality changes, so maintaining optimal aquarium conditions is crucial for their well-being. Enjoy observing their unique behavior as they explore their new environment.

Peacock Eel Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

Peacock eels (Macrognathus siamensis) originate from Southeast Asia, specifically in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. You can find these fascinating creatures in slow-moving backwaters of the Mekong and Chao Praya basins. Their preferred environment consists of sandy, warm, and heavily vegetated bodies of water.

Size and Shape

Though not a true eel, peacock eels have an elongated, slender body, giving them an eel-like appearance. They belong to the Mastacembelidae family. On average, these fish grow to a length of 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) in captivity.

Color and Markings

The peacock eel displays an irregular color pattern, with shades of brown, olive, and light red tones. The sides of their bodies feature a hazy pattern, with yellowish dots scattered around the head and trunk area. These varying colors and markings contribute to their unique and attractive appearance.


A well-cared-for peacock eel in a suitable aquarium environment can live between 8 to 18 years, making them a long-term commitment for any aquarium hobbyist. Providing the necessary care and maintaining a healthy environment will help ensure your peacock eel thrives and lives a long, healthy life.

Diet and Feeding

When it comes to feeding your Peacock Eel, variety is key. These nocturnal fish thrive on a diverse diet of live and frozen foods, especially:

  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Small crustaceans
  • Insects and their larvae

To keep your eel healthy and happy, feed it at least once a day, preferably in the evening when it’s most active. Use a long tweezers to reach their hiding spots and provide easy access to the food. Occasionally, you can treat your Peacock Eel to:

  • Daphnia (water fleas)
  • Tubifex worms
  • Mysis shrimp

Remember that Peacock Eels have small mouths, so always choose appropriately sized food. In some cases, they might adjust to eating high-quality pellets and flakes. Keep an eye on your eel’s eating habits to ensure proper nutrition, and adjust the diet as necessary for a healthy and thriving fish buddy.

Behavior and Temperament

Peacock Eels, scientifically known as Macrognathus siamensis, are shy and peaceful freshwater fish. They are known for their unique eel-shaped body and captivating eyespots. In your aquarium, you’ll notice that these creatures are often quite reserved, preferring to keep to themselves.

During the daytime, they tend to hide in substrates, decorations, or other hiding spots within the tank. However, when the sun sets, their nocturnal nature takes over, and they become more active in searching for food. This nighttime activity can make for an intriguing addition to your aquarium’s environment.

To encourage your Peacock Eel’s natural behavior, you should provide ample hiding spots and keep the lighting low. As tank mates, consider choosing other peaceful species that won’t disrupt or stress your eel. Remember, maintaining a stress-free environment is essential for their wellbeing.

In summary, Peacock Eels display gentle and timid temperaments, making them a unique and fascinating addition to any aquatic setup. By understanding and accommodating their behavior, you can create an inviting and thriving ecosystem in your aquarium.

Care and Tank Requirements

Tank Size

When setting up a tank for your Peacock Eel, it’s essential to provide adequate space for them to swim and grow. A tank with a minimum capacity of 30 gallons is recommended for a single Peacock Eel, but if you plan on adding more, consider increasing the tank size to 40-50 gallons or more, depending on the number of eels.

Water Parameters (Temperature and pH)

Peacock Eels thrive in specific water conditions, which are essential for their well-being. Maintain a water temperature between 73°F and 82°F (23°C and 28°C). The pH level should range from 6.5 to 7.5, making the water slightly acidic to neutral. Regularly monitor and maintain these water parameters to ensure a healthy environment for your eel.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Creating a suitable environment with proper tank decorations is crucial for the well-being of your Peacock Eel:

  • Use a soft, sandy substrate as the eel will burrow to hide or hunt for food. Avoid gravel, as it may damage their delicate skin.
  • Provide hiding spots using driftwood, rocks, or PVC pipes. Ensure the hiding spots are large enough for your eel to comfortably fit and shelter.
  • Add live or artificial plants to give your eel a more natural environment and additional cover.
  • Leave ample open space for swimming, as Peacock Eels are known to be active swimmers when they venture out of their hiding spots.

Filtration and Aeration

Effective filtration and aeration systems are vital to maintain the overall health of your Peacock Eel and their tank mates:

  • Use a high-quality filter capable of handling the tank size, as it is essential to maintain a clean environment and promote efficient cycling of beneficial bacteria.
  • Aerate the water with an air pump and air stone to keep the oxygen levels adequate and prevent the buildup of harmful substances.
  • Regular water changes (about 25% weekly) are essential to ensure the water quality remains optimal.

By adhering to these guidelines for care and tank requirements, you’ll be providing your Peacock Eel with a comfortable and healthy environment to thrive. Remember, maintaining proper tank conditions and routine monitoring will ensure the well-being of your eel and its tank mates.

Suitable Tank Mates

Peacock eels are fascinating creatures, and finding the right tank mates for them is essential for a harmonious aquarium. Look for peaceful fish that share similar water conditions with the peacock eel. This will not only ensure compatibility but also provide an aesthetically pleasing environment.

When selecting tank mates, it’s important to choose fish that the peacock eel won’t view as prey. Smaller fish may be tempting for them, so opt for tank mates that are larger or similar in size. Another key factor to consider is your fishes’ temperament – opt for those who exhibit a non-aggressive nature.

Here’s a list of suitable tank mates for your peacock eel:

  • Discus (Symphysodon discus)
  • Reticulated Hillstream Loach
  • Kissing Gourami
  • Swordtails

In summary, creating a balanced and harmonious aquarium for your peacock eel involves selecting appropriate tank mates. With the right combination of compatible, peaceful fish, you’ll enjoy observing their unique interactions and encourage a thriving underwater environment.

Breeding Process

Breeding peacock eels in captivity is quite a difficult task. Many aquarists consider it nearly impossible to achieve success in a closed environment like an aquarium. In the wild, peacock eels breed during the rainy season when their surroundings become flooded. You might observe courtship displays and chasing behavior between mating pairs during this time.

As a peacock eel owner, it’s essential to know that female eels lay sticky eggs on floating plants. These eggs typically hatch within three to four days. Some breeders suggest trying to replicate the flooding conditions of the natural environment could trigger spawning. This can be attempted by providing a constant supply of fresh water in your aquarium. However, it’s important to note that this approach hasn’t proven successful so far.

Remember, when attempting to breed peacock eels, use a friendly, patient approach and be prepared for the challenges you may face.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Peacock eels can be quite hardy and resistant to common aquarium diseases if you maintain good water quality and a stress-free environment. However, they are not immune to all health issues. In this section, we will go through common diseases and their treatments for your Peacock eel.

One common health challenge for Peacock eels is skin parasites, such as Ich, which can cause white spots on their body. These parasites can be treated with over-the-counter medications specifically designed for Ich. Carefully follow the instructions on the medication and ensure the water quality remains high throughout the treatment process.

Fungal infections can also affect your Peacock eel, appearing as cotton-like growths on their body. To treat fungal infections, anti-fungal medications can be purchased from your local pet store. Again, please ensure you follow the instructions on the medication label as dosages and treatment duration may vary.

Occasionally, Peacock eels can suffer from bacterial infections as well, which can cause skin lesions or discoloration. Antibacterial medications, such as Kanamycin or Tetracycline, can help combat bacterial infections. It is vital to administer these medications as instructed and perform water changes regularly to maintain optimal water quality.

Poor water quality and stress can lead to fin and tail rot in Peacock eels. This disease is characterized by the fraying and disintegration of fins and tails. Immediate action should be taken to improve water quality and reduce potential stressors for your Peacock eel. Medications specifically for fin and tail rot can also be used to aid in the healing process.

It is essential to remember that prevention is better than cure. Ensure your Peacock eel has a clean, stress-free environment with proper water parameters and a nutritious diet to keep them healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are peacock eels friendly?

Yes, peacock eels are generally friendly and peaceful fish. They are nocturnal and tend to be shy, so you may find them hiding during the day. However, they can adapt to living with other fish, as long as they are not aggressive or too small.

How big of a tank do they need?

Peacock eels can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) long, so they require a minimum tank size of 30-40 gallons. A larger tank is even better, as it provides more room for them to swim and explore. Make sure to provide plenty of hiding spots, such as rocks, caves, and plants, to help them feel secure.

What do peacock eels eat?

Peacock eels are carnivorous and prefer live or frozen foods, like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or small fish. They may also accept pellets and flakes, but these should be supplemented with live or frozen foods to ensure a balanced diet. Try to feed them at night when they are most active, and adjust their food intake if they are not eating well.

Where are they native to?

Peacock eels are native to Southeast Asia, specifically in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. They usually inhabit slow-moving rivers, streams, and floodplains with abundant vegetation and a soft substrate.

How long do they live?

With proper care, peacock eels can live for up to 10 years, or even longer. To ensure their longevity, provide them with a suitable tank, proper diet, and consistent maintenance to prevent health issues and stress.

Are they compatible with other fish?

Peacock eels can coexist peacefully with other fish, as long as they are not too small or aggressive. Suitable tank mates include larger peaceful fish like angelfish, discus, or some types of cichlids. Avoid adding very small fish, as they may be seen as prey, and steer clear of territorial or aggressive fish that could stress or harm your peacock eel.