Electrophorus electricus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Electric eel
Electrophorus electricus
photo by F├╝rderer, H.

 Family:  Gymnotidae (Naked-back knifefishes)
 Max. size:  250 cm SL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 20 kg
 Environment:  benthopelagic
 Distribution:  South America: Amazon and Orinoco River basins, and related areas in northern South America.
 Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 0-0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0-0. Body elongated and cylindrical, almost without scales; head flattened; mouth large with one row of conical teeth on each jaw; presence of three abdominal pairs of electric organs; body color dark with anterior ventral part yellowish (Ref. 12225).
 Biology:  Prefer muddy bottoms and calm waters; frequently found in coastal plains, swamps and creeks but is also found inland where a favorable biotope exist. Juveniles feed on invertebrates, adults feed on fish and small mammals (Ref. 12225), first-born larvae prey on other eggs and embryos coming from late spawning batches (Ref. 40645). The electric organ of this species consists of flattened electrocytes, numbering to about hundreds of thousands, connected in series (Ref. 10840; 10011). Generates two type of electric organ discharges (EODs) from different electric organs which are of myogenic derivation: 1) low-voltage EODs (about 10 V) emitted by the Sach's organ at rates of up to 25 Hz, and 2) high-voltage EODs (about 50-fold) emitted by the main and Hunter's organs at peak rates of up to several hundred Hz. Low-voltage EOD has been associated with electro location whereas high-voltage EOD has been noted during predatory attacks (Ref. 10011). An EOD of 500 V was recorded from a 1 m specimen (Ref. 10530), making it a potentially dangerous species. Incorporation of this species in fish-based house security systems has been suggested (see Ref. 9506). Also possesses high-frequency sensitive tuberous receptors patchily distributed over the body that seems useful for hunting other gymnotiforms (Ref. 10583). A nocturnal species; captive specimens showed higher low-voltage EOD activity during the night compared to daytime (Ref. 10011). This cycle seems to be free-running (internally controlled) (Ref. 10829). Probably a fractional spawner; fecundity count was17,000 eggs (Ref. 10630). An obligatory air breather (Ref. 10011) and can withstand poorly oxygenated water (Ref. 26457). Used in experimental studies.
 IUCN Red List Status:   (Ref. 96402)
 Threat to humans:  other
 Country info:   
 

 Entered by: Binohlan, Crispina B. - 18.07.91
 Modified by: Reyes, Rodolfo B. - 15.11.13
 Checked by: Luna, Susan M. - 10.08.94

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