Video credit: Mohamed Aaty (Egypt) Description: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the video channel)
The rice eel (Monopterus albus) is also known as swamp eel, white rice field eel and other local names in Asian countries. This air-breathing species of fish belongs to the Synbranchidae family.
The preferred environment for the rice eel includes a wide variety of freshwater habitats including shallow wetlands, stagnant waters, marshes, ditches, ponds and rice fields. The species feeds mainly on other fish, shrimp, crayfish, frogs, and other aquatic invertebrates such as snails, worms and insects.
The environmental and nutritional requirements of these eels have been considered upon their culture in rice fields as a food product especially the species can obtain a considerable part of their oxygen requirement from air. The ability to breed in captivity is a key advantage in the culture of the species.
Their culture in rice fields has been accompanied by dike boring due to the burrowing behavior of the species, thus making it difficult for them to retain water in their rice fields. On the other hand, field eels through their feeding habits were found to serve as predator against some unwanted insect pests such as golden apple snails which have become a pest in some Asian countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam. In addition to rice field culture, rice eels can be also cultured in small cement tanks; in this case external food made of locally available materials will be required.
In addition to the local consumption of rice eels, there is an opportunity to export the eels whether processed or live turning the species into a valuable fish. The eel specimens shown in the video are temporarily held before stocking.