What Do Eels Eat?

Eels bite. They have sharp teeth and are active hunters. That being said, what exactly do eels eat? It depends. Is it an eel in the wild, a pet eel, in freshwater, saltwater? There are many different kinds of eels and they are all are carnivorous, meaning they are meat-eaters.


In The Wild

Eels normally eat anything that they can fit into their mouth. They won’t hunt fish of similar size. The typical eel diet is comprised of invertebrates, crustaceans, shrimp, crabs, and sea urchins. Smaller fish are also prey.

Some eels even eat other eels. For example, Moray eels eat other eels in addition to fish and mollusks. The American eel feeds on insects, fish, fish eggs, crabs, worms, clams and frogs, they will also eat dead animal matter. 

As A Pet

Pet eels can eat meat items such as beef hearts but it’s better to feed your eel a diet based on fishmeal-type foods is best. High protein pellets and pastes are a good choice and these may include ingredients such as beef livers, tubifex worms, and fish meal. Young eels or elvers can feed on tubifex worms, chopped clam, and fish meal.

You can check any local pet store or online fish store for these. A word to the wise, do not attempt to hand feed your eel as they have very poor eyesight and can bite you instead. If you own a freshwater pet eel then keep the following in mind,

  • Feed once a day, usually in the evening.
  • Some have teeth to crush their prey.
  • Some may refuse food and eat only every 2 to 3 weeks.

For marine eels,

  • Feed once or twice a day usually in the evening.
  • Use caution when feeding; lower food with feeding tongs.
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding.

It’s also worth noting that eels are hunters and are dangerous and can bite you. Always handle with care. And by handle, I mean with anything other than a part of your body.


Eels can eat a wide variety of things. It all depends on what type of eel it is, where the eel lives, and other factors. Some eels even have to modify their diets as they migrate from one place to another.