Asian Swamp Eels
Swamp eels are freshwater fish, but they are not closely related to other living eels or snake-like marine and freshwater fishes.
The Asian swamp eel has characteristics that make it very adaptable to a new environment. It has the potential to become widespread in the US and impact a variety of native aquatic and wetland species, and eventually entire ecosystems.
• Asian swamp eels breathe air and can achieve up to 25% of respiration through the skin.• They can survive weeks without food.
At present the impacts of the eel are largely unknown. Because they are generalized predators, this species is a potential threat to native fishes, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates.
The USGS focus is to document the eel’s geographic distribution and to learn as much as possible about its behavior and biology.
Swamp eels belong to the family Synbranchidae. The swamp eel introduced to the United States belongs to the genus Monopterus, and there may be more than one species here.
In addition to the name swamp eel, other English names used for members of this group of fish include rice eel, rice-paddy eel, and belut.
In the United States, Asian swamp eels can grow to nearly 1 meter (about 3 feet) long and about 0.5 kilos (about 1 pound).
Monopterus albus is native to tropical and temperate parts of eastern and southern Asia. As well as Central and South America, Africa, and northeastern Australia, and from India to eastern Asia, including much of China.
Swamp eels were first introduced to the United States in Hawaii around 1900. They were first identified as in the continental United States in 1994 based on specimens collected in ponds at the Chattahoochee Nature Center north of Atlanta, Georgia.
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