American Eels

Eels in the Classroom - Frequently Asked Questions

How many eels will I receive?

You will receive 10 elvers (baby eels), pending availability due of natural fluctuation in eel migration numbers. These eels have been caught at dams during their migration up the Susquehanna River. Some were selected for EIC, most others were released above the dams to continue their journey.

What do elvers eat?

In the wild, elvers eat aquatic insects and small fish. In tanks they have been known to eat bloodworms, earthworms, live small fish, frozen beef liver, and macroinvertebrates collected from streams.

Student adding eels to aquarium
What supplies do I need to raise American eels?
  • 10 gallon tank (minimum) with tight fitting lid
  • Tap water is fine to use in the tank, as long as its sits out for 24 hours to dechlorinate.
  • Tank filter
  • Water treatment/testing kit
  • Bubbler
  • Substrate: rocks, gravel, plants, etc.
  • Eel food
Aquarium in classroom
What if the eels die?

Elvers are known to sometimes eat each other, especially as they become older and their predatory instincts kick in. It’s not your fault if this happens! We understand not all eels may survive to the release.

Students at fisheries station
Will they reproduce? How big will elvers get?

The eels are not sexually mature at this stage so they will not reproduce. Elvers may be ~3-4 inches when they arrive and may grow up to 6 inches, and growth depends on many factors including the unknown age of each elver and diet. In the past, some larger elvers that were fed live macros during the school year grew up to 12 inches in length!

Eels measurement