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Electric Eels are some of the rainforest's most fascinating fish. Did you know that an electric eel is not actually an eel? They are actually knifefish. Because they look and act so much like an eel, people have often confused them for eels.

Electric eels can generate or produce strong electric shocks to hunt and to defend itself from predators.

These fish are huge! They can grow to be over 8 feet long and weigh well over 40 lbs. Giant electric eels are fairly rare, though. Most electric eels grow only to about 3 feet in length.

Electric eels are only found in northern South America in the Amazon and Oronoco rainforest basin. They eat mostly fish, insects, and small amphibians.

These fish prefer to live in muddy, fast-moving water. This offers them great camoflauge. They also have to surface every 10 minutes to breathe. They float to the surface, take a gulp of air, and then settle down into the muddy, murky bottom to wait for prey to swim by.

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If you think of an electric eel as a battery, you can get an idea of how the eel creates electricity. Electric eels have three organs which store electricity. Two of these organs can produce enough electricity to kill most of the eel's prey: about 500 Volts. The third organ produces only enough electricity to defend itself. Scientists also believe that the eels use electricity to communicate with each other.

How do you think researching electric eels might help humans? What might we possibly learn from these interesting animals?

For further information, check out the following web sites.

National Geographic's Animal Facts and Photos

http://www3.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/electric-eel.html Queensland Government Information

http://www2.dpi.qld.gov.au/fishweb/2354.html http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=4535 Fish Base

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