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Friday, May 25, 2012

Fish Friday: The Electric Eel

Today on fish friday, I've decided to talk a bit about one of the most fascinating creatures of the fish world.  The electric eel.

Now this interesting little guy doesn't look like much, but he can pack a powerful punch.  He's capable of generating electrical shocks of up to 600 volts and 1 amperes! (Keep in mind that any voltage of 40 or as little as 20milliamperes--far, far less than the 1ampere the fish produces--is considered lethal to humans.) They use three unique organs called the main organ, the Hunter's organ, and the Sach's organ that create low volume and high volume electrical shocks through the use of electrolytes.

Here it is lightning a Christmas tree in Japan.

They use this electricity to kill their food, and also as a form of radar, sending small pulses from it's body to determine the size and location of their food.

A little bit more about this strange creature is that it's not really an eel, but a fish.  It's actually a knifefish and more closely related to the catfish, than an eel.  Like catfish, they're bottom dwellers. However, unlike the catfish (though some catfish CAN do this), they breath air. Having to go to the surface every 10 minutes or so to breath, before returning to the bottom.

And here's an awesome clip from my son's favorite show, RIVER MONSTERS.

As seen in that clip they live in the fresh waters of the Amazon and Orizon rivers in South America. They are generally seen in muddy or stagnant waters.  They can grow to about 6' 7" in length and up to 44 pounds.  They can have as many as 3,000 babies at each hatching.