An Assessment of the Asian Swamp Eel (Monopterus albus) in Florida
The Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus) is an air-breathing, sex-reversing, eel-like exotic fish that was first reported from Florida waters in 1997. This illegally introduced fish is now abundant in four major southeastern Florida canal systems, and it continues to slowly spread into nearby areas, including the Everglades. Swamp eel feed on a wide variety of organisms, the most common of which are small fishes, crustaceans (mostly crayfish), and insects. In a laboratory study, swamp eel died at temperatures ≤8°C. No deleterious ecological effects associated with the swamp eel's presence were detected during the 11 years we studied this species, nor was there any evidence that it makes overland movements. Based on these data and observations, the swamp eel in Florida is best described as an illegally introduced, opportunistic and successful predator that feeds on a variety of small prey; fortunately, however, it is unlikely to perpetrate major ecological or economic disturbances.
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