Smaug the Tesselata Moray Eel

TonysReef

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I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to post here, but it's Smaug's four month anniversary this week, so this is as good a time as any. I'll start with some backstory.

I picked up Smaug at the end of July 2022 after walking past him at an LFS a few times and not really even considering him at all previously, even though I must have seen him a dozen times in passing. At the time I had three pretty identical reef tanks running (180, 96, 72) and it hit me that this tesselata at the shop was actually much better looking than other specimens I've seen and would be an amazing pet for a dedicated tank. I had actually had one with an undulated trigger when I was in high school, over 20 years ago if you can believe it. He was marked something like $500, which was way too steep, and I think that detracted most people from even inquiring, but in chatting with the guy he said that the few morays they had were more or less donated and he was only into them for the food they ate, so if anyone was seriously interested he would work with them.

It goes without saying that my interest became serious enough and for $250 I could have him. My 180 at the time was full of fish, but I figured the new eel (about 30") would be happier in my 72 gallon than it was at the store. And I was willing to break down, re-scape, and dedicate the 72 to him for a while until I could sort out a larger tank. At the store he was in maybe a 90 gallon, sharing it with another eel, bare rocks, no cave, etc. So even in a tank that was definitely not quite large enough it would be an upgrade to have some privacy and a place to completely hide himself. So I put a deposit down, redid the 72 gallon over the weekend, and picked up my new eel early the following week.

Seeing as he looked like a dragon, I figured what are some iconic dragon names, and Smaug (from the Hobbit) was one of the few I could come up with off the top of my head and it fit perfectly.

Fast forward a couple of months, everything was going great, and I headed out of town for an almost 3 week scuba diving trip to Indonesia in September. I did everything I could to automate, hire people, and micro manage the tanks from afar, but you know, other people never really get your system or pay enough attention to the signs. Smaug was fine and happy as could be when I got back, but I had lost quite a few fish from my 180 gallon reef and it broke me a little bit. I didn't have the heart or energy to rebuild my fish collection, especially after a scuba trip which always makes me rethink my participation in this hobby. So I decided to sell all of my remaining fish and Smaug would get his upgrade earlier than anticipated. I would keep only one (or maybe two tanks, more on that in another thread) running, and I could better stay on top of things.

I got lucky and one guy took all of my remaining fish, so I redid the 180 to have a massive cave in the back section and a sturdy rock structure, filled it with my remaining zoas, softies, and corals and tossed Smaug into his new home! I'm probably not going to keep him in a 180 forever. As he gets larger I'll certainly consider another tank, but this is ample space for a while.

Hope everyone enjoys following along. I posted a video of him eating on reddit once out of boredom and everyone seemed to get a kick out of him, so I kept going and now do so pretty regularly. I'll keep everyone here posted and share the occasional video as well. If anyone made it this far, thanks and I hope you enjoy!


Smaug's second day in the 180 (July 2022):


Smaug's 180 breakdown (November 2022):


Here is he at the LFS the first time I seriously considered taking him (July 2022):
 
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Ron Reefman

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Beautiful animal! Take good care of it!

I had a chance to collect one while snorkeling in the Florida Keys on a shallow flat behind Money Key while collecting other small critters. But I didn't have a tank for it.
 
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