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World’s Most Powerful Electric Fish - Electric Eel – and Lethal Discharges that Causes Cardiac Arrest

Updated on March 27, 2011

World’s Most Poisonous Fish

The world’s most poisonous fish is the stonefish. The stonefish lives on reef bottoms and will usually camouflage as a rock. With its dorsal area having 13 spines each with two venom sacs that produces sufficient venom to give you shock, paralysis and tissue death, this may perhaps make the stonefish to be the king of all the fishes in the world. But this is not the case. The electric eel, which is a fish, will no doubt beat it for the title: World’s Most Powerful Electric Fish. The electric eel is capable of generating enormous electrical charge to dissuade all its predators including humans.

Electric Eel

The electric eel is not an eel but a knifefish. The electric eel are found in Amazon rainforest in rivers of Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, and Peru. They prefer to live on muddy bottoms in calm fresh water and in stagnant rivers with fresh water. The electric eel will grow to about 2 metres (the length of a bed) and weigh about twenty kilogrammes. The mouth of electric eel is square and the fish looks more of a serpentine. Its body is round and more than 85% of that body is the tail. The fish has gills alright but the fish is an obligate air-breather – meaning that every now and then it will keep on rising to the surface to gulp air before returning to the bottom of water. The electric eel has no scales like other fishes. The electric eel feeds on other fishes, amphibians, crabs, birds and small mammals that may find their way into water.

Electric Eel: The fish will generate upwards of 600 watts of electricity which is about ten 60 watts bulb - enough power to run your homestead, and perhaps your in-laws homestead. Image credit: Steven G. Johnson, Wikipedia Commons
Electric Eel: The fish will generate upwards of 600 watts of electricity which is about ten 60 watts bulb - enough power to run your homestead, and perhaps your in-laws homestead. Image credit: Steven G. Johnson, Wikipedia Commons

Lethal Discharge That Can Cause Cardiac Arrest In Humans

The electric eel is electrogenic meaning it can generate electric fields. The electric eel is also electroreceptive meaning it can detect electric fields from enemies. Many fishes are electroreceptive but not electrogenic. The electric eel is both electroreceptive and electrogenic.

The electric eel will generate upwards of 600 volts of electricity if disturbed by an enemy. This is powerful voltage compared to the 110 volts the American use in their power sockets. But voltage is nothing without a current. The electric eel will also generate a current of 1amp. Since power is the product of current and voltage, then the electric eel is capable of generating a power of 600 watts. 600 watts is about ten 60 watts bulb which is enough power to run your homestead, and perhaps your in-laws’ homestead. This power is a lethal discharge that can cause cardiac failure in large preys like human resulting in instant deaths. It is because of this that the electric eel can claim to be the king of the waters with virtually very few predators capable of killing the fish.

6000 Stacked Electroplaques

The electric eel has three organs namely the main organ, the hunter's organ, and the sachs organ. These three organs are actually made up of electrocytes. There are over 6000 stacked electroplaques that are capable of producing 600 volts and a current of 1 amp. The electric eel has the ability to control the amount of voltage to emit. There are low voltages for hunting for its food and high voltage for stunning prey, or defending themselves from enemies. For example: the electric eel will usually produce weak electric discharges for navigation, object detection and for communication with other electric eels.

Electric Eel Can Harm Itself with Its Strong Electric Fields

But how is it that the electric eel does not harm itself with the strong electric fields it produces? The simple answer is that the eel does feel the effect and perhaps it does regret producing such strong defensive pulses. But the effects of these pulses are far much less on the electric eel than the effect on the enemy. From the over 6000 electroplaques, the current on each line of electroplaques is small by approximately two orders (difference by a factor of about 100) compared to the current in the surrounding water. Moreover, its body has a thick layer of skin which is filled with fat. Fat is a poor conductor of electricity.

Static Electricity

If you have static electricity and you touch a piece of metal (good conductor) you feel pain, but if you touch a piece of wood (a poor conductor) you do not feel pair. When the static charge is large enough like in a thunderstorm, it does not matter what you touch. You will have to be burnt by the static electricity.

Matter of Life and Death

Nature, and or God, has made it such that in times of self defense, it’s a matter of life and death and if you must survive then you must feel some pain. When a mosquito sucks blood from you, you do not respond with a hummer but with a slow slap. If a large snake was to get hold of your leg, you would have to respond with a hummer whatever the consequences. A bee will not want to sting you, but if it must, it will latter die. For the electric eel to produce 600 volts it’s usually a matter of life and death, and it is indeed very painful to the electric eel.

Short the Electric Eel

But what happens if you put salt in water where the electric eel is? You will actually short the +ve polarity (head) with –ve polarity (tail) and the fish may die.

Electric Eel as a Pet

If you are hobbyist interested in keeping an electric eel as a pet then you will first have to catch one. To catch an electric eel, you will need to keep on disturbing it until all the batteries wears out. This may take several hours. From there you can then take your fish in safety. The electric eel is a fish in high demand.

Offer of $50,000 Reward by Fear Factor

If you are offered $50,000, would you transfer a bunch of small electric eels from one side of a tank to another with only one hand? I bet you would because money and humans are very good friends only that money does not want to stay together with man. A gentleman, Pam Green, a contestant in Fear Factor believed $50,000 is good money and he willingly transferred a bunch of small electric eels from one side of a tank to another with only one hand.

Mating in Powerful Electric Shocks

Do electric eels generate powerful electric shocks when mating? Of course they do not do it for pleasure but the eels have no problems when it comes to mating and hatching. It is the duty of the male to know that the right time has come and he prepares a nest using his saliva. Once the nest is ready, the female will willingly come and lay the more than 15,000 eggs which are fertilized by the male. The hatchlings which are born first will feed on small invertebrates as well as un-hutched eggs and embryos from latter batches.

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    • profile image

      nana 4 

      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      that's so cool

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      els are sick!!!!!!!11

    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • jamiesweeney profile image


      8 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Ten 60 watts is really amazing.Too dangerous. Interesting hub about electric eel.

    • profile image

      Wilma Cain 

      9 years ago

      Eels are fasinating creatures. However fear factoe can keep their money, because I will not touch one.

    • James L profile image

      James L 

      10 years ago from Canada

      very interesting indeed, I'd love to have an electric eel powered home haha

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Using the electrocte cell from the electric eel to produce power for human use is actually a very real possibility. There is research being done right now to tissue engineer an "artificial electrocyte" that is more efficient than the natural one. This bio battery could be used to power medical implants in the future... or maybe help make our current harvesting of solar power more efficient...

    • profile image

      Eel Fanatic 

      10 years ago

      AWESOME! I have a feeling that electric eels will be used in the near future for electricity! Oh, I can think of it now! Cars powered by live Electric Eels! Hehe! Now THAT would be a sight to see!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Oh wow! This thing is SUCH a good resource for things! FIVE STARS!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      But that would be cruel to the eel.

    • PirateFX profile image


      10 years ago

      Good hub, i wonder i we could harvest the energy from a large amount of these eels for storing. Organic electricity so to speak. If it were possible, the applications would be endless.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      That's a ton of current and electricity-I never knew they were that powerful, thanks for letting us know! Kimberly ps--hope I never stumble upon one :-D

    • profile image 

      10 years ago

      wonder if the electric eel could be used as renewable source of electricity in the future?


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