Why don´t electric eels fry themselves?

I was watching a documentary today where an electric eel showed up shocking and knocking out a fish before gulping it.
Seems that the critter can pump 500V at 1 Amp wich is quite a spark IMHO, that got me wondering how these fish avoid beign shocked by their own discharges.

Any ideas?

I suppose that as the source of the electric field all parts of their body is at approximately the same potential. Or at least the potential difference across their body is relatively low.


What is interesting now is that when surfing for the answer, I noticed odd electric eel info:

-They have no problem sending shocks all over when mating, but they are still capable of shocking each other when fighting.

-Reports of eels becoming eventually blind since eyes are not protected by the layers of fat.

Now, one of the sources was the Weekly World News :dubious: but because they were right about the layers of fat, I wonder if other researchers agree with that.

Electric eels are capable of producing a low level shock and a high level shock. The low level shock is significantly lower in voltage, something like 10 to 50 volts, compared to somewhere around 500 volts or more for the bigger shock. The eel’s skin insulates it from the shocks, but not completely. I’ve read that the high level shock actually hurts the eel a bit too. I’ve also read that if their skin is damaged (due to fighting or injury or whatever) that it is possible for them to shock themselves to death.

Fat is an insulator? :dubious:

Darn, I hit submit too soon…

If the skin acts as an insulator that still leaves the problem of how the critter doesn´t get shocked by the electricity generated inside its body.

Maybe electric fish are just built to withstand the shock; intriguing…

Well, it seems that was only partially correct.


Because the prey is usually smaller than the eel, once again electricity follows the path of least resistance, in this case the less insulated small fish.


Once again, electric current divides inversely as the impedances in parallel and electric voltage divides directly as the impedance in series.

And when I shock someone with static I also feel it but I’m expecting it and they probably aren’t.