10 Types of Electric Fish (With Pictures)

Types of Electric Fish
Photo by Evan McDougall on Unsplash

Have you had Electric fish? They are fascinating creatures that inhabit freshwater and saltwater bodies around the world.

While these fish may look and act like their non-electric counterparts, they possess an incredible superpower – the ability to generate electric fields. 

Whether you’re an experienced aquarist looking to expand your knowledge or a novice just getting started, our guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the incredible types of electric fish you will love.

Let’s get started!

1. Glass Knifefish

The Glass Knifefish, also known as the ghost knifefish, is one of the unique types of electric fish. They are commonly found in South America and can grow up to 20 inches long.

These fish have flattened bodies and long tails, with a translucent appearance that gives them their ghostly name.

You can’t believe the most interesting feature of the Glass Knifefish is their ability to use electrolocation to navigate and hunt in the dark waters they inhabit.

They can emit electric signals from an organ in their tail and sense the environment through the electric fields created by objects around them.

This makes them highly skilled hunters, able to precisely detect prey and potential threats.

2. Pacific Electric Ray

Pacific Electric Ray
by Ed Bierman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Pacific Electric Ray is also one of the different types of electric fish commonly found in the Pacific Ocean.

They are also known as the numbfish or crampfish due to their ability to generate electric shocks that can numb or immobilize their prey. 

These electric rays are usually solitary creatures that prefer to reside on the ocean floor. They are primarily nocturnal and feed on fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods.

One of the most distinctive features of the Pacific Electric Ray is its ability to generate electric shocks of up to 50 volts.

And the best part, they have specialized organs called electrolytes that produce these electrical discharges. 

The Pacific Electric Ray uses these shocks to stun their prey, protect itself from predators, and communicate with other electric rays.

While their electric shocks are not lethal to humans, they can cause painful muscle contractions and respiratory distress.

3. Black Ghost Knifefish

Black Ghost Knifefish
by VSmithUK is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Black Ghost Knifefish, also known as Apteronotus albifrons, is one of the popular types of electric fish kept as a pet due to its unique appearance and interesting behavior.

It is native to South America and can grow up to 20 inches long. This fish is named after its dark black color and how it moves through the water like a ghost.

What sets the Black Ghost Knifefish apart from other electric fish is its ability to produce two electrical signals.

It uses a high-frequency signal for navigation and detecting obstacles and a low-frequency signal for communication with other fish.

These signals are created by special cells called electrolytes in the fish’s tail.

4. Common Torpedo

The Common Torpedo, also known as the electric ray, is another type of electric fish.

They are found in coastal waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas and can produce a shock of up to 220 volts.

These shocks are used both for hunting prey and for defense against predators. 

In addition to their electric abilities, Common Torpedos are also fascinating creatures due to their unique appearance.

They have a flattened, circular body with two large pectoral fins used for swimming. 

Their coloration ranges from grayish-brown to reddish-brown, and they often have darker spots or blotches on their bodies.

The Common Torpedo is one species to consider if you’re interested in keeping electric fish as pets.

However, it requires specialized care and a larger aquarium than many other types of electric fish.

5. Cornish Jack

The Cornish Jack is an electric fish found in the Amazon basin. It is also known as the Jaguar Guapote due to its resemblance to the Jaguar with its dark spots.

This fish is known for its electrical organs in its anal fins, which generate an electric current for navigation, communication, and prey detection.

You can’t believe the electric organs in the Cornish Jack generate a relatively weak electric field compared to other electric fish.

However, it is still enough for them to communicate with each other and navigate in murky waters.

Their electric field can also help them detect potential prey, making them efficient hunters.

The Cornish Jack is a popular aquarium fish, but its unique electric organs require specific care and conditions for optimal health.

6. Electric Catfish

Electric Catfish 
by hoyasmeg is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Electric catfish is another fascinating type of electric fish. They are native to Africa and are known for their strong electrical discharges, which they use for communication and stunning their prey.

These discharges can be quite powerful, ranging from around 40 volts in some species to 450 volts in the case of the largest electric catfish.

There are several different electric catfish species, each with unique characteristics and traits.

Some, for example, are nocturnal and spend most of their time hidden away in the sand or mud at the bottom of their habitats, while others are more active and can be seen swimming around during the day.

Regardless of their specific traits, electric catfish are one of the most interesting electric fish to learn about and observe.

7. Electric Eel

Electric Eel
by null is licensed under CC BY 2.5

The Electric Eel is one of the most well-known types of electric fish and is native to the Amazon Basin in South America.

It is one of the largest electric fish species and can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh up to 44 pounds. 

The electric eel can generate powerful electric shocks that can be used for hunting, self-defense, and communication.

You can’t believe It has three organs that generate electricity: the main, Hunter’s, and Sachs’. These organs are made up of cells called electrolytes, which work together to produce a charge. 

The electric eel can use its electricity to locate prey, stun or kill prey, and communicate with other electric eels.

Despite its name, the electric eel is not actually an eel but is a type of knife fish.

8. Voltas Electric Eel

The Voltas Electric Eel is also one of the unique types of electric fish that can generate up to 600 volts of electricity.

It is named after its discoverer, Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electric battery. The Voltas Electric Eel is found in South America and can grow up to 9 feet long.

Unlike other types of electric fish, the Voltas Electric Eel uses its electric discharge primarily for hunting and self-defense.

Its prey includes small fish, shrimp, and even birds. It can also use its electric shock to ward off potential predators, such as caimans and birds of prey.

Despite its fearsome reputation, the Voltas Electric Eel is often used in scientific research and kept in aquariums worldwide.

9. Coffin Ray

Coffin Ray
by Marine Explorer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Coffin Ray is a type of electric fish that belongs to the Torpedo family.

This unique species is named after its unique shape, which resembles a coffin. They are commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Like other types of electric fish, the Coffin Ray has electric organs capable of producing an electric field.

However, their electric field is weak compared to other electric fish and is primarily used to defend against predators.

One interesting fact about the Coffin Ray is that they have a venomous spine near their tail’s base. This venom is not lethal to humans but can cause pain and swelling. 

If you plan on keeping a Coffin Ray as a pet, it’s important to be cautious when handling them and avoid touching their spine.

Overall, the Coffin Ray is a fascinating electric fish worth learning about.

10. Northern Stargazer

The Northern Stargazer (Astroscopus guttatus) is a type of electric fish found in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, particularly along the East Coast of North America.

It is known for its unique method of catching prey by burying itself in the sand and attacking unsuspecting prey with an electric shock. 

Like other types of electric fish, the Northern Stargazer generates electricity through special cells called electrolytes in its specialized organs known as electric organs.

These organs comprise thousands of electrolytes arranged in series and parallel circuits to produce strong electrical fields that help them navigate the dark and find prey.

Despite being a small fish, the Northern Stargazer is a powerful electrogenic fish, able to generate up to 50 volts of electricity.


You have learned the various electric fish types and discussed some of their key characteristics.

Electric fish are incredibly interesting creatures, so you’re sure to find something fascinating here, no matter your level of knowledge.

How Do Electric Fish Generate Electricity?

Electric fish generate electricity through special cells called electrolytes, stacked together like batteries in their bodies. When these electrolytes are activated, they produce an electrical current that can be used for communication, navigation, and defense. The strength and frequency of the electrical pulses can vary depending on the electric fish species and their situation.

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