Electric eel

Electric eel
Temporal range: Cretaceous–recent[1]
At the New England Aquarium
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gymnotiformes
Family: Gymnotidae
Genus: Electrophorus
T. N. Gill, 1864
Type species
Gymnotus electricus
Linnaeus, 1766
  • Gymnotus tremuli Gronovius 1760
  • Gymnotus tremulus Houttuyn 1764
  • Gymnotus electricus Linnaeus 1766
  • Gymnotus Regius Delle Chiaje 1847
  • Electrophorus multivalvulus Nakashima 1941

The electric eels are a genus, Electrophorus, of neotropical freshwater fish from South America in the family Gymnotidae. They are known for their ability to stun their prey by generating electricity, delivering shocks at up to 860 volts. Their electrical capabilities were first studied in 1775, contributing to the invention in 1800 of the electric battery.

Despite their name, electric eels are not closely related to the true eels (Anguilliformes) but are members of the electroreceptive knifefish order, Gymnotiformes. This order is more closely related to catfish. In 2019, electric eels were split into three species: for more than two centuries before that, the genus was believed to be monotypic, containing only Electrophorus electricus.

They are nocturnal, obligate air-breathing animals, with poor vision complemented by electrolocation; they mainly eat fish. Electric eels grow for as long as they live, adding more vertebrae to their spinal column. Males are larger than females. Some captive specimens have lived for over 20 years.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Lavoué Miya Arnegard 2012 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (2022). "Electrophorus". Fishbase. 269052. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Ferraris de Santana 2017 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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