Ribbon Eel Care: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More

Caring for a ribbon eel can be a rewarding and fascinating experience. I remember when I first set up my ribbon eel tank, the mesmerizing colors and unique behavior of this peculiar creature captivated me instantly.

In order to provide the best possible environment for these striking animals, it’s essential to prepare the tank setup, diet, tank mates, and be knowledgeable about potential diseases.

Ribbon Eels require a tank size of at least 55 gallons, with a temperature range of 75-82°F and a pH range of 8.1-8.4. They are carnivores and need a varied diet of high-quality frozen or live foods such as shrimp, krill, and squid. They also require a well-decorated aquarium with plenty of hiding places and a soft substrate for burrowing. 

Setting up a proper tank environment is crucial for the well-being of a ribbon eel. The size, water quality, and adequate hiding spots will dictate the health and happiness of the eel.

When I first started, I realized that providing a consistent diet of live or frozen food was essential, as ribbon eels can be quite picky eaters.

Another significant aspect of ribbon eel care is selecting the right tank mates. It’s important to note that not all species will be compatible with these unique creatures; I’ve seen some aggressive interactions before.

Keeping an eye on their health and behavior can alert you to potential diseases to address promptly, ensuring your ribbon eel thrives in its underwater world.

Ribbon Eel Fish Care

Species Summary


The ribbon eel, also known as the Rhinomuraena quaesita, is a fascinating marine creature that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. They originate from the Indo-Pacific region, surrounding coral reefs and lagoons.


These captivating creatures can live up to 20 years in the wild, which I find amazing for such a delicate and slender fish.


Ribbon eels have a striking appearance with their elongated, ribbon-like bodies and unique coloration. When I first laid eyes on one, I was amazed by its vibrant blue and yellow hues. Their nostrils even resemble a pair of small antlers, adding to their distinct look.


When fully grown, ribbon eels can reach a length of around 3 feet. In my experience, this slender size makes them stand out amongst other marine life in an aquarium setup.

Growth Rate

Ribbon eels have a moderate growth rate, reaching their full size within a few years. I’ve had the pleasure of watching my own ribbon eel grow to its impressive length.

Behavior & Temperament

The ribbon eel is a curious and shy creature by nature. When I first introduced one into my tank, it spent most of its time hiding among the rocks and coral formations. However, with time and patience, they will warm up to their environment and become more active.

Male Vs Female

Interestingly, all ribbon eels start their lives as males, with a striking blue coloration. As they mature, some individuals undergo a sex change and become females, transitioning to a yellow or green color. I’ve been lucky enough to observe this transformation in my own aquarium, which was a truly fascinating experience.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

When I set up my ribbon eel tank, I chose a long tank with a minimum capacity of 55 gallons. Ribbon eels can grow up to 1 meter long and need ample space to swim and explore.


For lighting, I used a standard LED light fixture with a timer set to simulate a natural day and night cycle. Ribbon eels do not require any specific lighting but it’s important for the tank’s overall aesthetic.

Filtration & Aeration

I installed a powerful canister filter to maintain water quality and prevent the buildup of toxins. Additionally, I added an air pump and airstone to boost oxygen levels and improve water circulation.


Ribbon eels thrive in warm, tropical water temperatures between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. I installed a reliable submersible heater to maintain stable temperatures in the tank.


For the substrate, I chose a mixture of coral sand and aragonite. This combination supports stable pH levels and mimics the ribbon eel’s natural habitat.


I provided various hiding spots, such as PVC pipes and rocks, for my ribbon eel to feel secure and comfortable. They enjoy having multiple places to explore and retreat to when necessary.


Lastly, I added live plants like Java fern and Anubias to create a natural environment and improve water quality. These plants are hardy and do not require additional CO2 or fertilization.

Water Quality

Water Temperature

When I set up my ribbon eel tank, I made sure the water temperature was between 75-82°F (24-28°C). This range is the optimum temperature for ribbon eels.

Water pH

I maintained the pH level in my tank between 8.0 and 8.4, which is perfect for these marine creatures.

Water Hardness

Ribbon eels require a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025, which I achieved using a good quality marine salt mix.

Water Changes

I found it important to change 10-20% of the tank’s water every two weeks, to ensure the best water quality for my ribbon eel. This helped to keep the tank clean and free from waste buildup.

Tank Maintenance

When I first started caring for my ribbon eel, I learned that maintaining a clean and stable environment was crucial. The water quality plays a significant role in their well-being.

Frequent water changes are necessary – I change 10% to 20% of the tank water weekly to keep it fresh and toxin-free. Keeping up with this schedule has really helped maintain my eel’s health.

Monitoring water parameters is another key aspect of tank maintenance. I constantly keep an eye on the temperature, salinity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to ensure the water is suitable for my ribbon eel. I aim for a temperature of around 75-82°F, a salinity of 1.022 to 1.025 specific gravity, and a pH between 8.1 and 8.4.

To further aid in cleanliness, I use a quality filtration system that keeps the water clear and removes contaminants. A protein skimmer is also helpful in handling the extra waste produced by the eel. These tools save me a lot of stress and help maintain a proper environment for my ribbon eel.

I notice that my ribbon eel loves hiding spots, so I carefully arrange rocks and decorations to provide secure places for them to feel comfortable. However, I make sure that these decorations do not have sharp edges or any parts that could cause injury.

It’s essential to wipe down algae that may accumulate on the walls or rocks in the tank. I usually use a soft-bristle brush or an algae scraper during water changes to remove any unwanted algae growth. This keeps the tank visually pleasing and supports a stable environment.

Taking care of my ribbon eel’s tank has been a rewarding experience. By putting effort into regular tank maintenance, I’ve noticed a positive impact on the overall health and happiness of my unique aquatic pet.

Tank Mates

Compatible Fish Species

When I was setting up my ribbon eel tank, I made sure to choose tank mates that would coexist peacefully with my ribbon eel. Some of the compatible fish species include dwarf lionfish, angelfish, and butterflyfish. These species tend to be less aggressive and won’t cause harm to the eel.

  • Dwarf Lionfish: They are slow-moving and somewhat docile, making them a great choice for a ribbon eel.
  • Angelfish: These attractive fish are generally peaceful, but be sure to monitor their behavior to ensure compatibility.
  • Butterflyfish: They are less likely to bother your ribbon eel, and they also add vibrant colors to the tank.

Incompatible Fish Species

No one wants an aggressive tank mate, so I was carefully paying attention to potential troublemakers. Some incompatible fish species for a ribbon eel tank include damsels, triggers, and larger predatory species like groupers. These fish tend to be more aggressive and may pose a threat to your ribbon eel.

  • Damsels: Although small and colorful, they have a reputation for being aggressive and territorial.
  • Triggers: They can be very aggressive, especially in confined spaces like an aquarium.
  • Groupers: Larger predatory species may see the ribbon eel as prey, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.


What To Feed

When it comes to feeding a ribbon eel, variety is essential. I make sure to provide a mix of live and frozen foods, which include shrimp, fish, and squid. Offering this mix helps in meeting the eel’s dietary requirements and keeps them healthy.


Feeding frequency is important as well. In my experience, young ribbon eels need to be fed daily as they have a faster metabolism. As they grow and mature, I reduce feeding frequency to 3-4 times a week. This helps prevent overfeeding and maintains their health.


  • I always use tongs or tweezers when handling food to avoid startling the eel or getting bitten accidentally.
  • I make sure to thaw frozen food before feeding. This ensures the eel gets the most nutrients possible and prevents digestive issues.
  • Watching the ribbon eel’s behavior is crucial. If it doesn’t eat, I try offering a different food or check water quality to ensure a stress-free environment.

Remember, proper diet and feeding practices will help keep the ribbon eel happy and healthy in its aquarium home.

Common Diseases


As an eel enthusiast, I’ve had my share of experiences with ribbon eel diseases. The most common diseases that affect ribbon eels are bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. Bacterial infections often occur due to poor water quality, while fungal infections typically result from injuries or stress. On the other hand, parasitic infections can be caused by various external and internal parasites.


  1. Bacterial infections: In my experience, ribbon eels suffering from bacterial infections exhibit symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and on some occasions, visible red patches on their skin.
  2. Fungal infections: Ribbon eels showing signs of fungal infections often develop fuzzy white or gray patches on their bodies. They may also become less active and stop eating.
  3. Parasitic infections: For parasitic infestations, I’ve observed that ribbon eels become irritable and may attempt to scratch themselves against objects in the tank. Symptoms of internal parasites include weight loss, dull coloration, and a bloated belly.


  • Bacterial infections: To treat bacterial infections, I’ve found that improving water quality and using specific antibiotics, as prescribed by a veterinarian, works well.
  • Fungal infections: For fungal infections, I use antifungal medications available over-the-counter. In some cases, it might be necessary to consult a vet for more potent antifungal treatments.
  • Parasitic infections: It’s essential to identify the specific parasite before administering appropriate medication. For external parasites, I recommend over-the-counter remedies, while internal parasite treatments may require a vet’s assistance.


Preventing diseases in ribbon eels involves maintaining pristine water conditions and performing regular tank maintenance. Here’s what I do:

  1. Monitor water parameters, such as temperature, pH, and nitrogen levels.
  2. Perform routine water changes and filter cleaning.
  3. Quarantine new tank inhabitants to prevent the introduction of diseases.
  4. Feed ribbon eels a balanced, varied diet to strengthen their immune systems.

Signs Of A Healthy Ribbon Eel

I once had a Ribbon Eel that lived a long and healthy life. I owe that to carefully observing its health and well-being. Here are the signs that helped me ensure my Ribbon Eel was thriving.

  1. Vibrant Colors: A healthy Ribbon Eel displays vibrant, bright colors. This is particularly noticeable in their blue or yellow bodies, which indicate good health and proper care.
  2. Active Behavior: Ribbon Eels should be fairly active, especially during feeding time. I noticed my Ribbon Eel was constantly searching for food and interacting with its tank environment.
  3. Appetite: A healthy Ribbon Eel consumes food regularly. My Ribbon Eel showed consistent interest in the food I provided, like chopped fish, squid, or shrimp.
  4. Breathing Rate: Observing a Ribbon Eel’s gill movements can indicate their health too. Normal gill movement should be steady, rhythmic, and not rapid or labored.
  5. Good Body Condition: A healthy Ribbon Eel should be free of physical abnormalities like lesions, parasites, or fin rot. Their body should be plump, not thin or bloated.

Keep a close eye on these indicators to ensure your Ribbon Eel is in good health.

Signs Your Ribbon Eel Is Sick

I remember when my ribbon eel started acting strange. Here’s what I learned that could help you identify if your ribbon eel is sick.

  1. Loss of appetite: If your ribbon eel is not eating, it may be a sign of illness. Keep track of their feeding habits.
  2. Changes in color: If your ribbon eel’s color becomes dull or changes, it might indicate a health issue.
  3. Lethargy: A healthy ribbon eel should be active. If yours is staying in one spot or moving slowly, it could signal a problem.
  4. Abnormal swimming: Watch for erratic swimming or difficulty maintaining balance, as this could point to a health problem.
  5. Gasping for air: If your ribbon eel stays at the surface and gasps for air or has labored breathing, it may have a respiratory issue.
  6. Visible growths, spots, or wounds: External signs such as growths, spots, or wounds on your ribbon eel’s body may indicate an infection or disease.
  7. Cloudy or swollen eyes: Cloudy or swollen eyes in your ribbon eel might be a sign of an eye infection or ammonia poisoning.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to take action. Consult an aquatic veterinarian or an experienced aquarist for guidance on the next steps to help your ribbon eel recover. In my case, I managed to treat my ribbon eel back to health with the proper care, and it was a great learning experience.


Ribbon Eel Fish Care 2

Breeding Setup

In my experience, creating the perfect breeding environment is crucial for successful ribbon eel breeding. I used a separate, dedicated tank with similar water parameters as the main tank.

To facilitate mating, I added various hiding spots like PVC pipes and live rocks. Ensure the tank is dimly lit to mimic their natural habitat.

How To Breed

When I first attempted breeding ribbon eels, there wasn’t much information available. However, I discovered that males and females display different colorations, making it easy to identify them.

Males are blue with a yellow dorsal fin, while females are yellow and black. I introduced a well-fed, healthy pair into the breeding tank and observed their behavior closely.


Taking care of the breeding pair is essential to ensure successful reproduction. Here’s what I did:

  • Feeding: I fed them a varied diet, including small fish and crustaceans, at least twice a day to keep them healthy.
  • Water quality: I maintained optimal water parameters by performing regular water changes and closely monitoring the water conditions.
  • Observation: I checked on the pair regularly to look out for any signs of distress or potential breeding activity.

Once eggs were laid, I carefully moved them to a separate tank to ensure their safety. It’s important to maintain water quality and provide the right conditions in the rearing tank for the eggs to hatch and develop healthily. The first few weeks after hatching are critical, and I fed the young eels small live food such as brine shrimp to optimize their growth.

Product recommendations for Ribbon Eel:

  1. CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand: This sand substrate is perfect for creating a natural-looking environment for your Ribbon Eel.
  2. API Aquarium Test Kit: Regular water testing is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for your Ribbon Eel, and this test kit can help you monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your tank.
  3. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump: This compact and efficient pump can help improve water circulation in your aquarium and provide your Ribbon Eel with a more natural environment.
  4. Seachem Prime: This water conditioner can help remove harmful chemicals from tap water and make it safe for your Ribbon Eel.
  5. Hikari Frozen Mysis Shrimp: This high-quality frozen food can provide your Ribbon Eel with a nutritious and delicious meal.
  6. Zoo Med Laboratories Nano 10 Canister Filter: This compact and efficient canister filter can help keep the water clean and clear in your Ribbon Eel tank.
  7. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum: This substrate is specifically designed for shrimp and can provide a natural-looking environment for your Ribbon Eel.
  8. Coralife BioCube Protein Skimmer: This protein skimmer can help remove organic waste from the water and keep your Ribbon Eel tank clean and healthy.
  9. AquaIllumination Hydra 32 HD LED Light Fixture: This high-quality LED light fixture can provide the perfect lighting for your Ribbon Eel tank.


I have found that caring for ribbon eels can be a rewarding experience. The key is in establishing the proper tank setup, diet, and environment.

When I first started, I made sure to have a spacious enough tank of at least 50 gallons with plenty of hiding spaces. This allowed my ribbon eel to feel secure and comfortable in its new home.

Feeding was a crucial aspect, and I learned that their diet should primarily consist of small live fish and crustaceans. I have been careful to keep the tank clean, maintaining optimal water conditions for my ribbon eel’s health.

In addition, selecting tank mates that are non-aggressive and of similar size has ensured that there is minimal stress in the aquarium. It was important for me to periodically examine my ribbon eel for signs of diseases or infections and take action when necessary.

My personal journey with ribbon eel care has been a learning experience, and I can confidently say that this fascinating creature adds a unique touch to my aquarium. With proper care and dedication, a ribbon eel can thrive and become a captivating addition to your aquatic collection.


What size tank is suitable for a ribbon eel?

I remember when I first set up my ribbon eel tank, I did extensive research to ensure their comfort. Ribbon eels require a tank of at least 55 gallons, preferably larger.

What type of diet do ribbon eels have?

Ribbon eels are carnivorous and their diet mainly consists of fish and shrimp. I usually feed my ribbon eel frozen silversides or mysis shrimp.

Which tank mates can live with a ribbon eel?

Avoid aggressive or overly active tank mates. Some suitable tank mates are:

  • Cardinalfish
  • Clownfish
  • Firefish
  • Gobies

Are ribbon eels prone to any specific diseases?

While ribbon eels are generally hardy, they may be susceptible to bacterial infections and ich (white spot disease).

How often should I clean my ribbon eel’s tank?

Keeping the tank clean is crucial for your eel’s well-being. I perform at least a 10% water change every week.

Do ribbon eels require any specific tank conditions?

Ribbon eels thrive in the following conditions:

  • Temperature: 75-82°F
  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • Salinity: 1.020-1.024
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: As close to 0 as possible

How often do ribbon eels eat?

I feed my ribbon eel every other day to maintain a healthy appetite. Be patient; some can be picky eaters initially.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts