Truly a favorite with new and veteran aquarium hobbyists alike, the snowflake moray eel (Echidna nebulosa) is one of the more congenial members of the Muraenidae family. As a result, the snowflake moray eel is sought out by those aquarists that want to mix a moray with their other fish.
Difficulty: The snowflake moray eel is no doubt one of the easiest moray eels to keep. The snowflake moray eel is a more manageable size (it reaches a length of around 30 inches), and it will eat readily available fish foods. While the occasional snowflake moray eel specimen may require live ghost shrimp to induce a feeding response, the sooner you can entice them to consume a variety of fresh or frozen (thawed of course) seafood the better. Chunks of rinsed table shrimp, squid, scallop or marine fish flesh makes a great staple food for the snowflake eel and other moray eels. The snowflake moray eel should be fed several times a week.
Physical description: The snowflake moray eel is an attractively marked moray eel — it is white or cream-colored overall, with black dendritic black blotches that contain one or two yellow spots. The eyes of the snowflake moray eel are yellow and there are yellow markings on the head. The dentition of this moray belies its preference for crustacean prey. The teeth of the snowflake moray eel are conical in shape and hence good for crushing invertebrate exoskeletons. Larger snowflake moray eels eat more fish in the wild, as well.
Range: The snowflake moray eel is a wide-ranging species that occurs from the Red Sea and coast of East Africa to the east coast of Central America (e.g., Panama). The snowflake moray eel prefers shallow reef habitats and is regularly seen on reef flats (sometimes in tide pools) to depths of 35 feet.
Compatibility: As mentioned above, the snowflake moray eel is one of the best moray eels to keep in a community fish aquarium, as it tends to behave itself with fish tankmates. That said, the snowflake moray eel may dash about the aquarium and strike at anything that is in the odor corridor when food is introduced, but even then it rarely actually grasps tankmates and attempts to eat them. Larger snowflake moray eels are definitely more of a threat to smaller fish than juvenile and medium-sized Echidna nebulosa, so be aware. You can keep similar-sized individuals together, but larger snowflake moray eels are known cannibals. The snowflake moray eel is also potential prey for some of the larger, more aggressive moray eels (e.g., honeycomb moray eel, Gymnothorax favagineus).
Aquarium conditions: While the snowflake moray eel and other moray eels are tolerant of a wide range of aquarium conditions, they may stop eating if the water quality gets too bad. The following water parameters are ideal: pH 8.1 to 8.4, specific gravity 1.019 to 1.025 and a water temperature of 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide secure caves and crevices to serve as a hiding place for your snowflake moray eel. Moray eels sometimes dig under rockwork, which can cause it to collapse. You can use cable ties (i.e., zip-ties) to make sure rockwork is stable. Always put the rockwork directly on the glass bottom of the aquarium rather than on the sand bed. Always remember, if a moray eel cannot find a hiding place in which it feels secure, it is more likely to try and escape the aquarium.
Care considerations: Like any of these serpentlike moray eels, the snowflake moray eel has the bad habit of trying to escape from open aquariums. The snowflake moray eel has the uncanny ability to find and crawl out of the smallest hole in the aquarium top, so make sure all of these holes are well-covered. Echidna nebulosa also are prone to sliding over corner overflow boxes and may make their way through PVC plumbing into filter bags or the aquarium sump.
Breeding: Moray eels are not likely to spawn in the home aquarium.