Animals / Fishes - All Types of Fish Species / Electric Eels - Regulated Voltage

Electric Eels - Regulated Voltage


electric eel mug shot

 

An apex predator of the fresh waters of South America (most specifically in the Amazon and Orinico Rivers), the electric eel (with the coolest Latin name we have seen yet - Electrophorus electricus) isn't actually an eel at all, but rather it's a knife-fish, it is for sure electric though. Though its name may be partially misleading, the electric eel is actually capable of producing powerful electric shocks that can reach up to 600 volts and 1 ampere (humans can be killed by voltage over 0.75 amperes); it uses these shocks for both hunting, and self defense.

 

 

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When hunting, the electric eel usually feeds off invertebrates and small fish, but it has been observed overtaking an occasional small mammal. Also, infant electric eels will often feed off the eggs from batches layed after themselves. As previously stated, the electric eel's most notable characteristic is its ability to produce electric shocks, but even more interesting is their ability to control the voltage of them (to some degree). Using its three organ pairs (the main organ, the hunter's organ, and the sachs organ), the eel can produce a voltage low enough to serve as a mere tracking system for prey, and one powerful enough to kill a grown man. The electric eel also has the capability to produce these charges intermittently over long periods of time, thus keeping it safe from prolonged attacks. However, due to their defense mechanisms, they are hard to take into captivity, and are therefore hard to study.

 

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Electric eels have a long cylindrical body that usually grows to be about 6 feet (2 meters) long, and they will often weigh up to 45 pounds (20 kilograms); this makes them the largest of all knife-fish. They are also air-breathers, and must rise to the surface of the water about every ten minutes in order to take in air. Due to their apex predator status, the population has remained strong as man and pollution have not yet endangered their livelihood.

 

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