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Mastacembelus cryptacanthus (African Spiny Eel, Caecomastacembelus cryptacanthus)

An attractive, eel-like fish with a long tapering snout ending with a distinctive appendage. Basic colour is light brown with a snakeskin-like pattern of patches along the body. The belly is slightly pinkish in colour. The dorsal fin is long and contains a number of very sharp (and potentially hazardous) spines easily capable of cutting the aquarist's skin or damaging nets. As with all spiny eels, females are more deep-bodied than males, but breeding is unknown in home aquaria.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):

Spiny eels are all very similar in terms of behaviour and requirements. All are territorial, predatory, more or less nocturnal, and initially very shy. Provide an aquarium with plenty of hiding places and a soft, sandy substrate. When kept in tanks with gravel substrates these fish tend to be short-lived, damaging their skins while trying to dig and succumbing to bacterial infections. Spiny eels are excellent escape artists, so cover the aquarium. Floating plants generally help these fish settle in and inhibit their tendency to jump out of tanks. All small animals will be viewed as food, including small tankmates. Feeding these fish can be difficult. They are highly nocturnal when first imported, and have a marked preference for live food. Do not force them to compete with catfish, loaches, or anything else likely to steal food left for them at night. They will not eat flake or pellets. Provide live bloodworms and earthworms to begin with, and once settled in, wean them onto frozen substitutes. Spiny eels are not easy fish, and are not recommended for beginners.

Family Group: Miscellaneous
Distribution Africa: Benin, Cameroon, Congo, and Nigeria
Temperature 24-30C
Size 23 cm
Water Parameters Adaptable, but avoid extremes
Water PH 6.5-7.5

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