Ribbon Eel

Black Ribbon Eel ~ Blue Ribbon Eel

Family: Muraenidae Picture of a Black Ribbon EelRhinomuraena quaesitaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I have a blue ribbon eel I had for a week now. I have tried certain methods which recently I tried the pipe method which he loves now im trying to get him to eat.... (more)  Leonard Edwards

   The Black Ribbon Eel seen above is a juvenile. The Blue Ribbon Eel is bright blue with a yellow mouth and is the adult color of a mature male black ribbon eel. A female Ribbon Eel is yellow.

   These eels are only recommended for experienced aquarists!

   These are probably the hardest eel to keep since they can be finicky eaters, often refusing food.The Ribbon Eel, Black Ribbon Eel, Blue Ribbon Eel should only be kept by very experience marine enthusiats as they are extremely difficult to acclimate to captivity. We have had success with only one! Getting it started on ghost shrimp and then guppies.

For more Information on keeping marine fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Rhinomuraena quaesita
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Anguilliformes
  • Family: Muraenidae
  • Genus: Rhinomuraena
  • Species: quaesita
Ribbon Eel, Amazing Rhythmic Gymnast? No an amazing Ribbon Eel! (Rhinomuraena quaesita)
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Great video of a male Ribbon Eel in the wild.

The beautiful undulating movements of the Ribbon Eel captures the eyes and hearts of most saltwater enthusiasts! There have been several more success stories in keeping these creatures alive in captivity as of late, but they are still suited to advanced aquarists who are willing to take the time to train them to take frozen/thawed foods. This video is one of a male in the wild. Juveniles are black and females are yellow to greenish blue or green, although females are not seen as often. They can reach almost 4 feet, but due to their skinny and compressed bodies, they do not demand a tank as large as deep bodied eels would need!

Blue Ribbon Eel feeding 1 (Rhinomuraena quaesita)
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Great how to video to get your Ribbon Eel to start eating!

This video shows how to elicit a feeding response when you have one Ribbon Eel. The rosy red fish was alive and when it wiggled out of the grabber. Notice that the aquarist pretended the grabber was another eel chasing the fish, then the Ribbon Eel got excited and grabbed his meal! Notice that the lights are dimmed down, and the tank is transitioning to lights off, so the brights are low. This is the best time to train them to eventually eat frozen/thawed silversides.

Maintenance difficulty:    The Ribbon Eel, Black Ribbon Eel, Blue Ribbon Eel is very difficult to keep. They are so difficult to keep, they are better left in the ocean! They are finicky eaters that need a lot of work to get to eat. Try all kinds of seafood, squid, shrimp, krill, and live food like guppies. They will also eat ghost shrimp if they are available.

Maintenance:    Feed all kinds of live fish and meaty foods. Use a poker if necessary at first to place the food right in front of their mouth. Don't worry if it doesn't eat for a while at first, they can go for several weeks without food (and often do).

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Found in the Indo-Pacific.

Foods:    They feed mainly on small fishes in the wild with an occasional invertebrate.

Social Behaviors:    Sociable and peaceful, can be considered a community fish as long as the tankmates are not small enough to eat! Since its' mouth is fairly small, it is probably one of the best eels for the community aquarium.

Sex: Sexual differences:    The juvenile is black, like the eel shown in the picture. As they mature, the black will turn blue with the tips of the mouth and inside the mouth turning yellow. Apparently they will grow larger to become fully grown females which are a golden yellow color.

Breeding/Reproduction:   Probably not possible in the aquarium.

   Several freshwater species of eels are known to lay their eggs in the ocean and die afterwards.

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Temperature:    No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Ribbon Eel, Black Ribbon Eel, Blue Ribbon Eel adults can grow to 100 cm (36 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 60 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    Will generally stay in the bottom. Will bury themselves in the gravel with only their heads sticking out.

Availability:    This fish is available from time to time.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
Lastest Animal Stories on Ribbon Eel

Leonard Edwards - 2014-01-05
I have a blue ribbon eel I had for a week now. I have tried certain methods which recently I tried the pipe method which he loves now im trying to get him to eat. Do anyone have any suggrstions I been trying to feed him ghost shrimp and frozen krill but he dont go for it. I even put garlic on the krill. If you would email me suggestions please jrtxboiy@gmail.com

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-01-05
    They can be tough to get feeding. The techniques we've used is with a poker made out of rigid 1/4' clear tubing with a paper clip attached with a rubberband to the end. Then we pierce live food (like the ghost shrimp) on the paper clip end, and offer it in front of the eel's face. The paper clip is blunt so it doesn't hurt them, and if the food is moving they pay attention and will sometimes strike.  If nothing happens, then we kinda bump them on the nose. But being bumped on the will sometimes elicit a bite reaction. This way they get the food, and then they start understanding that it is food. Still, there are some that simply won't feed. Good luck!
Greg Earle - 2008-08-04
I have a Ribbon Eel which I believe is the longest-lived Ribbon Eel in captivity. I have had it continuously since around 1985 or 1986, I believe. It has been through at least 3 house moves which were undoubtedly traumatic to it (drain tank, put eel in bucket, etc.).

I feed it 2 dozen feeder guppies a week, once a week, and I keep nothing else in the tank (a 60 gallon) to make sure it is not stressed at all. It is like the Energizer Bunny! I am absolutely amazed at my success in keeping this beautiful creature alive for so long. I wish someone at the Monterey Aquarium or some institution would come study it before it goes!

Casie Honeycutt - 2009-07-21
We have had our black ribbon eel for about a year and a half now. He is in a 55 gallon hexagon aquarium with a maroon clown and a blue damsel. I have a hard time believing the stories about ribbon eels not eating. Ours eats EVERYTHING. As far as live foods go, we feed him goldfist and rubys. He also loves the minnows we get from ponds and rivers around our house. We also found he really enjoys cut strips of catfish and bass meat. We've never fed him silversides or any other frozen food. When we first got him my husband would feed him by hand, but now he has no problem catching it himself or stealing it from our clownfish and anemone. It's really a sight! He is now (very slowly) starting to change color and has grown more than a foot in the last year. We're really enjoying him!

stefan - 2006-08-31
I bought a blue ribbon eel as an impulse buy. The eel did not eat for almost 1 month and had started to loose its beautiful colour. iwas sure he was going to die. i tried all types of frozen foods, live food was not an option as my lionfish would eat them too quickly. I bought a piece of plastic sheet to seperate the lionfish from the eel and tried small goldfish and after 2 atempts he cornered the goldfish and gobbled him up. One week later i had him eating frozen fish(white bait i think?) from a skewer stick and have removed the plastic sheet. This eel requires alot of patience and effort to acclimatise.

karla - 2006-07-10
I've had a blue ribbon for several months now. I have not been able to get him to eat frozen foods but he has taken to live island silversides quite well and eating on a regular basis. This is about every other day. It is a very hard eel to get eating and would not recommend this eel to everyone.

daniel - 2005-02-06
I have had my blue ribbon eel for about one year now. For the first few weeks I tried to feed it ghost shrimp with no success. I then tried medium size gold fish, which he gobbled up. I fed him one every 3-5 days. Recently he went about three weeks without eating. I went through a ton of feeder fish, then I tried small feeder fish and now he eats 1-2 fish a day. He is my favorite animal in my 180 reef tank.


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