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Electric eels are cited as being about to produce about 860 watts of energy. But I haven't been able to find information on how long they can sustain their charge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9wktSQdyaE

In another question, it was shown that they can continually power a Christmas tree, albeit the lights flicker, just when it's hanging about and doesn't appear to be defensive. This suggests that it has some ability to sustain a low level of current... so I'd be surprised if there is no study that has measured the potential Wh. Sadly, I cannot find it.

Does anyone know any estimates for the energy an electric eel can produce over the course of a day?

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand why this question has been downvoted. There is a common curiosity about the power of electric eels, and potential utility for that power. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Dec 27 '20 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ Someone thinks that eels are not funny :) $\endgroup$ – aliential Dec 27 '20 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @aliential I quote like electric eels, and find them quite funny, because they're some sort of catfish. And I'm pretty sure it was a kind of catfish that climbed onto the side of a boat, and accepted beer from the occupants. Quite an intelligent fish, they show fish possess higher brain activity than they're given credit for, just in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Dec 27 '20 at 22:43
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This research states that an eel whose size is 90 cm can provide 6.05 mW, which is 145 mWh every day. They say you'd need 165 eels to be able to read for 24 hours using a 1W lightbulb like the one on a phone.

An electric eel should be able to flash a 0.6W L.E.D. light for 10 milliseconds at full power every second, which would be very visible in daylight, and would light up the room.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I'll check out the paper! It's interesting that they got such a small wattage out of the eel. They can apparently go up to 860 watts of charge. There's a video somewhere out there, where an eel electrocutes an aligator to death over 45 seconds (you can find it if you search). The gator was spasming from the shock, so I figure it can't be a few miliwatts. But then, the fish was fighting for its life. Notably, another report states that they can emit a shock even hours after their death, and Wikipedia claims they can maintain a charge for an hour (no source, sadly). $\endgroup$ – Johnny Dec 28 '20 at 4:19
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    $\begingroup$ That video is evidence for 50w to 500w pulses for 40 seconds, if it's 1ms pulses of 500w to the caiman's gums, every pulse is 500w/60000 ms = 0.008 Wh. In total the eel exhausted perhaps 0.4Wh to stun the caiman. No evidence the eel and caiman actually died. Caimans do eat the eels sometimes. A small watch battery is also enough to cause death at 600v. $\endgroup$ – aliential Dec 28 '20 at 9:21
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I found some information on how much energy an electric eel can theoretically produce for an hour, but not per day. Thanks to this excellent answer from dtrades and my own research.

Apparently, electric eels can produce up to 860 watts, at up to 1 amp, with 1ms pulses and up to 500hz, with older/longer eels being able to produce a more stable output. That would theoretically make for a 50% duty cycle, with square waves, but will be something more like a 25% duty cycle when we average the pulses (if I'm not mistaken).

River Monsters S03E06 Electric Executioner claims they can produce a shock for "over an hour," I'd like to find more definitive data on their potential length of shocks. I did see a video of an electric eel being bitten by a reasonably sized gator, and shocking into into unconsciousness or death after 40~45 seconds, so I would believe they could keep it up for an hour, especially since they can still shock even eight hours after death.

Conclusion

So, all that together, suggests that an electric eel could theoretically produce 215 Wh, after one hour. It might be too exhausted to keep that up.

Of course, that is the most ideal result for one hour. What the average eel will manage, averaged over a day, is much harder to say. Still, I'm skeptical they are only capable of less than 1 Wh, and I'd figure a result in excess of 215 Whs would be more likely, under ideal conditions.

Containment

They also, as an aside, have to be careful to not electrocute themselves and stop their own hearts, and they have to take care not to electrocute each other. The father will keep his fry in his mouth, and signal them as to where they should go to be safe, when he performs a shock.

For those reasons, if you did use electric eels for power, you'd have to be careful how you contained them, so they had enough space to not electrocute themselves or each other.

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