Zebra Moray Eel

Family: Muraenidae Picture of a Zebra Moray EelGymnomuraena zebraPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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Hey guys I just need some help. My snowflake eel has been acting strange recently. After my coral beauty died the snowflake may have eaten him cause I haven't found... (more)  Fishnerd2000

   A very popular and beautiful eel. The Zebra Moray Eel are very suitable to the aquarium, with specimens known to have lived in captivity for more than 20 years!

  Though rather reclusive, the reef safe Zebra Moray Eel is very peaceful and slow moving. It needs lots of rock in order to conceal its entire body, but once comfortable in its environment, it will venture out for food. Though very docile and compatible with fish, even other species of eel, its natural diet are crustaceans and it will readily snack on ornamentals. They are generally a chocolate-black, but some specimens can be more golden brown than the eel pictured here.

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


Geographic Distribution
Gymnomuraena zebra
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Anguilliformes
  • Family: Muraenidae
  • Genus: Gymnomuraena
  • Species: zebra
Yellow Edged Moray Eel
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Yellow Edged Moray Eel - Gymnothorax flavimarginatus

The yellow edged moray eel (Gymnothorax flavimarginatus) is a member of the family Muraenidae. The yellow-edged morays commonly inhabit drop-offs in coral or rocky areas of reef flats and protected shorelines to seaward reefs. The depth of the eel in the video is evident from the need for a light. They feed on cephalopods, fishes, and crustaceans. Their distribution includes the Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea and South Africa eastward to the Tuamotus and Austral islands, north to the Ryukyu and Hawaiian islands, south to New Caledonia, and in the eastern Pacific from Costa Rica, Panama and the Galapagos Islands. They can be found at depths as deep as 150 m (500 ft.). Yellow-edged morays can reach a length of up to 240 cm. (7.9 ft.) and are suitable only for very large aquariums.

Fire Shrimp cleaning Zebra Moray Eel Inside Mouth Symbiosis (Gymnomuraena zebra)
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Zebra Moray getting a dental check up!

This captive Zebra Moray Eel and Fire Shrimp are a perfect example of symbiosis in the marine world. The Zebra Moray, as you can see from the video has several rows of teeth that are molar shaped and numbering 2 to 3 per linear row. They are the most docile eel that you can keep in captivity, but will require a tank that is at least 250 gallons or 1,000 liters. Any crustacean or mollusk is in danger, however, even the smallest fish will be left alone! Feed them a wide variety of crab, shrimp, urchins, scallops and even squid!

Zebra Moray Eel (Gymnomuraena zebra)
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Zebra Moray Eel out and about in the tank.

This is an example of a very comfortable Zebra Moray Eel! He has come out to explore, which they will do if they have several places to hide and feel comfortable enough. The Zebra Moray will eat 3.6 times their body weight per year! They can be lighter orangish brown, brown, dark brown and even black with narrow white to pale yellow vertical bars along the body. Juveniles may have spots and dashes on the head and face area and more dashes here and there that have not extended around the body yet. Juveniles will have a smaller girth and should not be housed with large groupers, soapfish or fish eating eels that are larger than they are!

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Zebra Moray Eels are found in the Indo-Pacific and the tropical eastern Pacific; they cover a wide range from the Red Sea and east coast of Africa across the Indian Ocean to the Philippines and north to the Hawaiian Islands, also found in the Gulf of California off Panama, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands. They inhabit seaward reefs at depths of 20 feet to 145 feet (6 - 44 meters), dwelling close to the bottom among corals and rubble.

Status:    These fish are not listed on the IUCN Red List.

Description:    True to its name, the beautiful Zebra Moray Eel is easily recognized by its zebra striping, narrow white bands on a chocolate or golden brown background. It is also readily distinguished from other eels by a blunt rounded snout.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Adults can grow to 144 cm (57 inches), but usually only attain about 90cm (36 inches) in captivity.

Maintenance difficulty:    The Zebra Moray Eel is easy to keep once they are established in the aquarium.

Foods:    The Zebra Moray Eels are carnivores. Having blunt teeth suitable for grinding, they primarily eat crustaceans in their natural habitat, such things as crabs, snails, urchins, and mollusks. For this eel a good choice is crab meat, blue crabs with their carapace cracked works well. Also fiddler crabs are readily available. They will also eat other meaty foods such as shrimp, clams, squid, scallops and fish flesh.
   Though a very docile fish they can become a bit more aggressive when feeding and they do have a very strong bite, so it is best to feed with a feeding stick. Juveniles will eat more readily than adults and will take a wider variety of foods, however most specimens that are available are already over 17 inches (43.2 cm). Use a feeding stick if necessary at first to place the food right in front of its mouth. You can gently tap the eel's snout with the food laden stick to encourage it to eat. Don't worry if it doesn't eat for a while at first, they can go for several weeks without food (and often do).

Maintenance:    These fish are generally very easy to care for and are hardy. Provide basic marine aquarium care with a 20% water change monthly or 10% twice a month.
   For more information see, Marine Aquarium Basics: Maintenance

Aquarium Parameters:
   A reclusive fish, it needs to have plenty of rock with holes for hiding its entire body in to feel comfortable.
Minimum Tank Length/Size:
   A minimum 75 gallon (284 liters) aquarium for an adult Zebra Moray Eel.
Light: Recommended light levels
   No special requirements.
Temperature:
   No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74° and 79° Fahrenheit.
Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong
   No special requirements.
Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom
   Will generally stay in the bottom of the aquarium. Will find a cave or crawl under a rock and spend most of their time there with only their heads sticking out.

Social Behaviors:    Sociable and peaceful, can be considered a community fish as long as the tank mates are not ornamental crustaceans, they will readily snack on those. Because of their need to retreat, they are best kept in a reef aquarium, or an aquarium with lots of rock.

Sex: Sexual differences:    Unknown.

Breeding/Reproduction:     Probably not possible in the aquarium. See Breeding Marine Fish page for a description of how they reproduce in the wild.

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

Availability:    The Zebra Moray Eel is available from time to time. Usually it can be acquired from your pet store or found on the internet.

Author: David Brough, CFS.
Additional Information: Clarice Brough, CFS.
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Lastest Animal Stories on Zebra Moray Eel

Fishnerd2000 - 2014-04-28
Hey guys I just need some help. My snowflake eel has been acting strange recently. After my coral beauty died the snowflake may have eaten him cause I haven't found the body yet and recently he tried to eat my pregnant tomato clown. I don't want him to kill her but I don't want to get rid of him I'm going to purchase a 30 gal tank this week. Please help, thanks.

Reply
mayday - 2010-02-27
I bought my zebra moray for $100 from the lfs. He was nearly 2' long then and had been in a 75g setup fowlr-- my lfs owner assured me he would be fine in my 55g reef setup--(i know b.s.) well by a miracle "Levi" is still with me after 2years- he scares the poop outta me about 1x every six months by refusing to eat for up to 2.5 weeks. He has decided he only likes tetra's jumbo krill, and refused to eat until i bought it- not even fresh frozen shrimp or scallops would entice him. As he ages i notice some lightning in his brown color and more wrinkles :). Its sad that the old owner got "tired of him" (yes, i went and hunted that guy down for info) he was at least 2yrs old then. He is a GREAT add to my reef tank (by the grace of God lol) and has only been suspected in one "disappearance" of my sally light foot crab (only her legs were left poor girl). He and my coral banded shrimp even seem to tolerate one another well, but the shrimp pushes him around believe it or not, and appears to pick things off him (perhaps parasites?). I have not had ANY ich or illnesses of any kind for more than a year (thank God).. so all seems to be well even though its only a 55g. I probably have 200# of live rock and a deep sand bed at minimum 4" that i DO NOT DISTURB. I use a baby bottle brush to remove detrus. I have a REMORA PRO protien skimmer, a phosphate reactor, and an ODYSSEA CFS 4 canister filter. To keep my monster in the tank i use the plastic grid from office lights (comes in sheets). My tank is now 4yrs old going on 5yrs. I have a yellow tang, a royal gramma basslet, a mandarin goby, tomato clown, yellow tail blue damsel, 2 pajama cardinals, a six line wrasse, and a lawn mower blenny, I am not a master aquarist, or even an intermediate one, I get lucky!!! and believe there is no real substitute for an aged aquarium you have to be vigilant until the ecosystem is set :(-- dont give up !! it really will get lots better, and its SO WORTH IT-- :)

Reply
The AquaSmith - 2006-09-23
Zebra Morays are actually somewhat of a rare find and not as hardy as some of the other common moray eels but can be kept sucessfully. The most frequent problem is feeding. Their primary food source in nature is almost srtictly crustaceans. I have been sucessful with whole frozen Krills for a transition from live foods. Some success with Freeze dried after that.

The AquaSmith

Reply
Fishnerd2000 - 2014-04-27
I need help! Today when I was getting prepared to feed my snowflake eel I caught him attempting to eat my clownfish. I stopped him. WHAT Should I Do?!?! I don't want to get rid of him but I don't want him to kill my pregnant clown.

Reply
Anonymous - 2012-01-18
Is this eel the same as the snowflake moray eel? And by any chance is the snowflake moray eel and the freshwater snowflake moray eel the same eel?

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-01-18
    Nope they look completely different. The Morey has stripes and the snow flake looks like it has more spots. Here is a bunch of pictures showing the snowfalke vs the morey
    Snowflake vs Morey and hope this helps.
  • Alex Burleson - 2012-02-09
    These two eels are different species. :]
  • Anonymous - 2012-12-27
    No, they are a completely different species
Reply

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