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Old 06-19-2012, 04:07 AM
Raiden's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Default Critter of the Week - Weekly Entries

Critter of the Week 01 - Mastacembelus erythrotaenia

Common Name: Fire Eel

Taxonomy: Phylum - Chordata (animals with a backbone)

Class - Actinopterygii (ray-fin fishes)

Order - Synbranchiformes (swamp eels)

Family - Mastacembelidae (spiny eels)

Genus - Mastacembelus (asian/eastern spiny eels)

Species - Erythrotaenia

Range: Eastern Asia; it has been recorded in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Habitat: This is a freshwater species occupying slow rivers and streams, floodplains, and other low-current freshwater habitats within their range.

Ecology: This is a large, eel-like fish that can be found lurking in swampy streams, floodplains, and slow-moving rivers in eastern Asia. It grows rather large, with adult sizes often approaching 4 feet in length. The Fire Eel is highly predatory, hunting and devouring any food that is large enough for it to swallow; its underslung, narrow jaws are useful for catching small fish, shrimp, worms and crayfish, and it can burrow into areas of the riverbed with a soft bottom; both to pursue prey and evade predators. They also possess sensory organs near the tip of their jaws to help them sense their prey in murky waters.

This fish, like many others, reproduces via external fertilization; after a male and female pair up to spawn, the female releases eggs which are fertilized by the male, who releases a cloud of sperm onto them.

Notes: This species is sometimes seen for sale as an aquarium fish; its has become more popular amongst serious aquarium hobbyists recently due to some success at spawning them in aquariums. They have shown themselves to be very intelligent fish, often able to recognize their caretakers and becoming tame enough to be hand-fed. They are also caught for food in the countries within their natural range.

Conservation Status: While this species is not currently threatened, others within the family Mastacembelidae are. This may be due to farms encroaching on the watersheds that connect to their rivers, which results in excess nutrients (in the form of nitrates and phospates) entering the water, a process called eutrophication. Eutrophied water loses the oxygen dissolved in it due to bacterial action, and fish die of suffocation. In addition to this, some fish in the order Synbranchiformes live in caves, swampy marshland, and other areas with shallow water; farming requires large amounts of water to be drawn from the surrounding water table, and sometimes these water bodies vanish as the water table falls due to farming practices, killing the fish.


Modern technology owes ecology an apology.

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Last edited by Raiden; 06-19-2012 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 05-26-2014, 11:40 AM
Moco Loco's Avatar
Dandy Lion
Moco Loco is a lion in a low place
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: New Orleans
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What is this? How did I not notice this before?

Critter of the week 02(?) - Enteroctopus dofleini

This is one of my favorite animals and I hope to have one someday I've seen two in person, one at the aquarium in Brighton and one at the zoo in DC. The one in Brighton is very active and plays with baby toys, but the one in DC looked pretty miserable. I probably won't ever actually own one, but if I did, it would have its own pool sized area and lots of stuff to interact with.

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Old 05-29-2014, 10:27 PM
Raiden's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,072

Holy crap, I totally forgot about this.

Maybe I should try to reboot it this summer.

The idea was actually to help make people more acquainted with the diversity of life on this planet by making short profile-like articles about different animals that aren't as well known as others within their group (group in this context being any level of classification from class down to genus).

For example, instead of making an article about lions, I would make an article about the sand cat; instead of making an article about the green iguana, would make an article about cat geckos, or an article about the secretary bird instead of the ostrich.

I probably wouldn't do one about the giant pacific octopus, only because that's like the best recognized member of the octopi; instead I would probably pick the blanket octopus.

I'm surprised it wasn't named the superhero octopus.
Modern technology owes ecology an apology.

Trouble keeps me running faster

Save the planet from disaster...
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