READ The Most Beautiful Eel In The World  

Clark Benson
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Until recently I never understood the bond people had with their pets. Let's be honest - I have openly mocked it. I have scoffed as friends had to decline a last minute weekend trip because of their precious little pooch. Etc.

But now I understand. I have had a saltwater aquarium for some years now, and I love my tank. But it has only been the last few years that have (slowly) turned my head. For it has been the last few years that I have had my beautiful Banded Moray Eel.

His name is Nonagi.


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Now there has been plenty of turnover in my fish tank, including two prior eels. I think all my fish are badass (no boring or obvious marine creatures in MY tank thank you), but I can't say that I've felt REAL emotion . . . A fish will die, which makes me a little sad depending on the fish (and the hassle factor of fishing him out of the tank and um disposing of the body, truth be told). But still, it was just a f*#king fish, you know?

Until Nonagi.

Nonagi is a beautiful creature. I have seen banded morays in the wild (aka the "ocean"), and they are nowhere near as beautiful, as regal, as Nonagi. As the years have gone on our relationship has grown closer.

He lets me pet him. We make eye contact. There is a bond. I am now a PET PERSON. God save me.

Eel #2

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I don't name many of my fish, and Eel #2 was no exception. Still, he was a fine spotted moray specimen, at least on paper.

But it's hard to look an eel in the eye and really get to see his soul, you know? The first sign that something might have been a little wrong with this one was when he somehow snaked thru a 1/6" vent and ended up down in the under-the-tank circulatory system (I'm not an expert on this stuff - the setup and cleaning of my saltwater tank are outsourced, but we have a subtank below the main tank that cycles water somehow or other). Frankly, I thought Eel #2 had been a jumper (see Eel #1 below) for a few days until i spotted him curled up all happy behind some stuff in the sub-tank. We fished him out and put him back in the main tank, and everything was OK for awhile.

But then he started getting pretty aggro (eels are not aggressive creatures for the most part - they feed when hungry, but otherwise pretty much keep to themselves). He was biting the other fish, and exhibiting very non-eel-like behavior. A wrasse in the tank was eviscerated one day, and the guy who services my tank said it was definitely the eel. The last straw was when I was feeding the fish, and this eel grabbed a fin of my large, very docile batfish, and started thrashing him against the coral. Luckily i had my hand already in the tank to break it up.

But I can't exactly keep my hand in my saltwater fish tank 24/7 now can I?

We had to send eel #2 off to another pet owner, at a bigger tank. Hope he's finding peace.
Eel #1 is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Beautiful Eel In The World
Photo: via Twitter

Eel #1

Unfortunately there is no surviving footage of my first eel (also a spotted moray) so this stock image will have to do. He was a shy one, but he obviously had a touch of madness, as is not uncommon in shy types.

I feel terrible relating this story, but it must be told. One night after "the feeding" I made the amateur fish tank owner mistake of leaving the lid to the tank partially open. Normally this is not exactly a fatal error. But I went to bed with the lid half open.

Jen, who has a deathly fear of snakes, was downstairs the next morning and I heard a scream. "I just saw a snake loose in the house".

As I ran to investigate, a sickly feeling went through my stomach (we don't live in the high desert, our neighborhood isn't exactly a hotbed for snakes).

There was indeed something slithery and long on the floor. But the "snake" was not moving.

Eel #1 was a jumper. RIP buddy.