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Electric Eel


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The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a long, snake-like fish that can generate electricity (it is not a true eel). It can produce a 600-volt electric shock. One shock from an electric eel will not kill a person, but repeated shocks will. Electric eels are found in the Amazon River basin and other parts of South America. The electric eels reproduces by laying eggs (it is oviparous). It is not a true eel.

Anatomy: The electric eel grows to be almost 8 feet (2.5 m) long. Most of the internal organs are in the front 1/5 of this fish; the rest of the body contains the electricity-producing organs (modified muscles). The scales covering the body are tiny. The eyes are tiny, and as this fish ages, its vision diminishes. With age, the amperage of the fish's electric shock increases. The electric eel can live in stagnant, oxygen-deficient waters; its gills are modified into "lung-like" organs, and the electric eel must surface occasionally to gulp air.

Diet: The electric eel eats other fish. It gets its prey by shocking it with electricity. The young eat bottom-living invertebrates.

Classification: Class Osteichthyes (bony fish), Subclass Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish), Order Gymnotiformes (Electric Eels and Knifefishes), Family Electrophoridae (electric eels), Genus Electrophorus, species E. electricus.

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