Dragon Moray Eel
Common name: Dragon moray eel, Leopard moray eel, Japanese dragon moray eel
Scientific name: Enchelycore pardalis
Max size: 36 in / 92 cm
Temperature: 72-78ºF (22-26°C)
The Dragon moray eel is a very stunning and popular moray eel. It is easy to care for and can be recommended to anyone with a large aquarium and a large budget as this species often is somewhat expensive. This moray is not as common in the trade as the Snowflake moray eel or the Zebra moray eel but you should be able to find one if you are patient. Ask your local fish store to order it for you or order it yourself online.
The Dragon moray eel has an orange body with white and brown spots all over. It has enlarged characteristic nostrils.
There is a local variety of this species collected off the coast of Japan that has a more intense coloring and more orange on the stomach than the regular Dragon moray eel. This Japanese Dragon moray eel is very sought after and is usually very expensive with a price ranging from around $1000 and up.
The dragon moray eel is a highly predatory very aggressive fish species. It should never be kept with anything that is small enough to fit into its mouth as it will try to eat it. It should not be kept with timid fish and is best kept with other large aggressive fish such as trigger and puffers or by itself in a species aquarium. The Dragon moray eel is obviously not reef safe but can be kept with corals, gorgonians and anemones with the reservation that large specimens can hurt them accidentally while swimming around. The Dragon moray eel can despite being aggressive be quite shy. A well decorated aquarium (see below) will make it less shy and more active.
The Dragon moray eel can be very shy during the first few weeks after being introduced but as the eel starts feeling more at home in your aquarium it will become more and more active. If the Dragon moray eel feels safe enough it might even rest out in the open.
The Dragon moray eel is found in the entire tropical Indo-Pacific. It can be encountered from the African east coast to the western coast of South America. It has only been sporadically reported further east than Hawaii. It can be found as far north as Japan and as far south as New Caledonia.
Dragon Moray Eel care and aquarium setup
Japanese dragon moray eel will grow large and adult specimens need to be provided with large aquariums. A 180 gallon / 700 L aquarium should be considered a minimum. Some sources will recommend smaller aquariums but adult specimens should really not be kept in aquariums smaller than the above recommended. Juvenile Japanese Dragon moray eels can be kept in smaller aquariums but you shouldn't buy this large expensive fish if you can't house it as an adult.
The aquarium should be decorated using live rock so that caves large enough for the moray to hide in are created and there should be several caves available for it to choose among. It is good if it can move among the rock from one end of the aquarium to the other without exposing itself. The more caves you provide it with the more you will see of your Japanese Dragon moray eel as it will enter open water more often if it feels safe. Creating a safe and stress free environment is the single most important factor in moray keeping as stressed morays will be much more sensitive than a moray that feels at home.
Keep the water quality high and theater values stable.
Make sure that you keep the aquarium well covered as the Dragon moray eel is an escape artist that can escape through the smallest opening.
Feeding Dragon Moray Eel
The dragon moray eel is a predatory fish and should be fed a varied meaty diet. Many Dragon moray eels can be trained to accept dead food such as shrimp and fish flesh while others only will accept live food such as feeder fish and live invertebrates. Try to vary the diet to make sure that they get all the nutrients they need. Never feed them just goldfish feeders (or other minnows/silversides) as that won't give them the nutrients they need. Feed it when hungry. A Dragon moray eel usually wants to eat a few times a week but might at times go weeks between feedings.
Breeding Dragon Moray Eel
We have no information on breeding or sexing the Dragon moray eel. Breeding it would likely require a very large aquarium due to their aggression. Successful captive breeding of this species would be beneficial as demand is much larger than supply. It is an egg laying species.
Enchelycore pardalis - Hawaiian Dragon Moray Eel
The Dragon Moray eel is one of the fiercest in the ocean, with its sharp teeth and intimidating face it is danger to other fish and humans. Because of this, it is best to have a specific aquarium for a Dragon Moray Eel, and its best in the hands of a expert, as it is a threat to anyone who cannot properly care for them
Dragon Moray Eels get up to 36” long, meaning that the bare minimum size tank for one is 150g, of course its best to get a tank larger than that. They like hidey holes, so live rock and PVC piping are a must. Another must is a tight fitting lid, like with other eels, these guys are notorious for crawling out at night, leaving the owner with a dead eel in the morning. They also require dim lighting
For tank conditions, they like a temperature of 72-78ºF, salinity of 1.020-1.025, and a ph of 8.1-8.4. They will eat feeder fish, frozen food, squid, and octopus. Because of their aggressive nature, virtually no fish can be kept with them, they will even snap up triggers and puffers.
As for price, these guys average at $1000 CDN, so theyre best left to die hard experts who want them for a specific purpose. If you still want the eel experience without the cost, try looking into snowflake eels.
Other Moray Eel ArticlesMoray eels- An article about how to keep moray eels in aquariums.
Snowflake Moray eel-A guide to keeping Snowflake eels.
Zebra Moray eel- How to keep Zebra moray eels.