Mastacembelus ellipsifer

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Mastacembelus ellipsifer
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Osteichthyes
Order: Synbranchiformes
Family: Mastacembelidae
Genus: Mastacembelus
Species: M. ellipsifer
Binomial name
Mastacembelus ellipsifer
Boulenger, 1899

Mastacembelus ellipsifer, the Tanganyikan spiny eel, is a species of spiny eel. It is endemic to Lake Tanganyika and can be kept in captivity.


The eel is up to 45 centimeters (18 in) long. The color is brownish-beige with a ring-shaped dark brown pattern. The dorsal fins are hard.[1] The fish is endemic to Lake Tanganyika and can commonly be found along the shores of the lake. It can commonly be found in intermediate zones.[1] The eels prefer coastal waters with a sandy, rock, or a muddy bottom. The species environment is benthopelagic freshwater.[2] The eels eat small fish in the wild. The species is nocturnal.[1] Human uses for this eel are fisheries and aquariums. The eel is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.[2] It was one of the species that was photographed as part of a FishBase mission which had the primary objective to document and photograph the rich fish diversity of Lake Tanganyika with the help of ichthyologist Dr. Tyson R. Roberts.[3]


In captivity, they eat small animals such as prawn, cockle, mussel, earthworms,[1] shrimp,[4] and bloodworm. The aquarium needs piles of rocks for sheltered areas. The base of the tank needs to be covered in sand; gravel should not be used because it can damage the eel's skin. If there is light, it should be dim.[1] The temperature of the water needs to be 73–81°F (23–27°C), the pH in the range 8.0–9.5, and the hardness 8–25°H.[1] Breeding has never occurred in tanks. The tank size needs to be 88 US gallons (330 l; 73 imp gal).[4]

The species might cohabit with other species that are too large for it to eat.[1] However, it can be aggressive to other species and might require more space.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Aethiomastacembelus ellipsifer - Tanganyikan Spiny Eel". Seriously Fish. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Mastacembelus ellipsifer" in FishBase. October 2012 version.
  3. ^ "Lake Tanganyika: Kigoma, Tanzania and Mpulungu, Zambia". FishBase. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b c "Aethiomastacembelus ellipsiferA". African Cichlids. Retrieved 2010-06-07.