Japanese Dragon Eel – Enchelycore pardalis
Japanese Dragon Eel, Eels can be a challenge to keep due to their ability to escape aquariums. Keep a tight fitting lid or light diffuser panel on the tank. Be careful when feeding as Eels eyesight is not the best. They may accidentally (or not so accidentally) bite your hand. We recommend the use of feeding tongs instead of using fingers. A bite from an Eel can cause a serious bacterial infection. It is important to clean the wound area well and immediately seek medical help if you see any signs of redness.
The Japanese Dragon Eel is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean region, it is rare but very popular with those aquarists who like eels. It is mottled in vibrant shades of orange, black and white, with more orange on the chest than the either of its “cousins,” the Hawaiian and Mexican Dragon Eels. It has very large, jet black eyes. The mouth is full of teeth that are sharp and fang-like and the bottom jaw can not close because of its curved shape, making the eel look especially menacing. Its head is much larger than its body. Escaping is a favorite activity, having the ability to go through small holes. It is important to keep the lid on tight. Known also as the Japanese Dragon Moray.
Enchelycore pardalis – Japanese Dragon Eel
The Dragon moray eel is a very stunning and popular moray eel. It is easy to care for and can be recommended to anyone with a large aquarium and a large budget as this species often is somewhat expensive. This moray is not as common in the trade as the Snowflake moray eel or the Zebra moray eel but you should be able to find one if you are patient. Ask your local fish store to order it for you or order it yourself online.
The dragon moray eel is a highly predatory very aggressive fish species. It should never be kept with anything that is small enough to fit into its mouth as it will try to eat it. It should not be kept with timid fish and is best kept with other large aggressive fish such as trigger and puffers or by itself in a species aquarium. The Dragon moray eel is obviously not reef safe but can be kept with corals, gorgonians and anemones with the reservation that large specimens can hurt them accidentally while swimming around. The Dragon moray eel can despite being aggressive be quite shy. A well decorated aquarium (see below) will make it less shy and more active.
Dragon Moray Eel care and Aquarium Setup
Japanese dragon moray eel will grow large and adult specimens need to be provided with large aquariums. A 180 gallon / 700 L aquarium should be considered a minimum. Some sources will recommend smaller aquariums but adult specimens should really not be kept in aquariums smaller than the above recommended. Juvenile Japanese Dragon moray eels can be kept in smaller aquariums but you shouldn’t buy this large expensive fish if you can’t house it as an adult.
The aquarium should be decorated using live rock so that caves large enough for the moray to hide in are created and there should be several caves available for it to choose among. It is good if it can move among the rock from one end of the aquarium to the other without exposing itself. The more caves you provide it with the more you will see of your Japanese Dragon moray eel as it will enter open water more often if it feels safe. Creating a safe and stress free environment is the single most important factor in moray keeping as stressed morays will be much more sensitive than a moray that feels at home.
Feeding and Diet: Japanese Dragon Eel may need to be coaxed to eat in the beginning. Offering live food, such as fresh shrimp, may help. Once eating, it will eat just about anything it can get its mouth around, but being a hunter, it prefers live foods such as crabs, small fish, shrimp and squid, presented on feeding tongs. The eel can fast for long periods of time (months), without hurting itself. Feed 1 to 2 times a week.
We have no information on breeding or sexing the Dragon moray eel. Breeding it would likely require a very large aquarium due to their aggression. Successful captive breeding of this species would be beneficial as demand is much larger than supply. It is an egg laying species.
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