Watch this electric eel light a Christmas Tree

Published: December 5, 2019

Miguel eel christmas tree Photo by Tennessee Aquarium

His name is Miguel, and you can find him spreading Christmas cheer at the Tennessee Aquarium.

He’s lending his ions to light up a Christmas tree placed outside of his tank.

When he emits electrical discharges, the lights on the tree will flicker. The lights become brighter when he is excited especially when the aquarist comes to feed him.

Miguel is a naked-back knifefish, more commonly known as an electric eel. The low voltage electrical discharges (less than 10 V) he emits are used as a form of communication and electrolocation, while higher voltage discharges are both a defense and hunting mechanism. This helps compensate for their poor eyesight.

A researcher from the National Museum of Natural History recently discovered a new species of electric eel that was recorded discharging 860 V, the strongest electrical discharge from a living organism. His species is native to Mexico and South America and can typically be found in freshwater habitats.