Fish like electric eels and torpedoes have specially designed nerve cells that allow them to discharge hundreds of volts of electricity.

Now, while pure water is usually nonconductive, the dissolved salts and other stuff in both sea and fresh water allow them to be conductive. If an electric fish is able to use its electricity to stun enemies or prey, how come the fish itself is unaffected?

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    $\begingroup$ for the same reason snakes don't poison themselves! :D $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 6:24
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    $\begingroup$ @TheMachineCharmer But a snake would get hurt if bit by itself (or by another of the same species), as long as the venom can act on its tissues. $\endgroup$
    – Mark C
    Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Machine: Mark is correct. Snakes do not necessarily have immunity to their own venom; they are merely careful enough not to bite themselves. Their cells are as susceptible to venom proteins as the cells of any other animal. $\endgroup$
    – user172
    Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 7:18
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed he is right and you too! The comment wasn't supposed to be taken seriously. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ @TheM Yes, but I just had to point it out. $\endgroup$
    – Mark C
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 17:51

3 Answers 3


alt text Suppose current entering into this parallel circuit is $10A$
then almost all the current flows through poor small fish's body

current through poor small fish's body = $10A \times \frac{1M}{1M+1} \approx 10A $

This is probably the large picture but I am just guessing. Hope its correct.

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    $\begingroup$ All right, visuals, circuit diagram, freehand fishes, and "poor small fish"! $\endgroup$
    – Mark C
    Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ Are we supposed to understand that the small fish has a lower resistance because it is smaller i.e. it contains less resistive material? And what about the resistance of water? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexandreJasmin Actually the predator fish can increase his own resistance, see Mark C's answer. $\endgroup$
    – user144542
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'd love to join the upvoters, but I have to point out instead that this doesn't actually answer the question. The question can be translated to "why does the eel have higher resistance". This answer assumes we know the answer to that! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ Why is current supposed to enter from mouth and leave $\endgroup$
    – Protein
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 16:52

I checked to make sure:

The simple answer is that electric eels insulate their critical tissues with a layer of fat below the skin, preventing the shock from traveling through their body as the "path of least resistance". I may update with visuals and details if I can find good ones.


enter image description herethe electrical eel is a variety of freshwater fish with specialized organs that discharge energy. Many species use those jolts to experience their environment or communicate (as in courtship). some species, such as electric powered eels, electric rays, and electric powered catfish, can emit enough juice to stun other fish, yet they in no way appear to surprise themselves.

frame size may be key: An electric eel can develop to 8 ft long and weigh as plenty as 50 kilos, making it orders of magnitude bigger than its sufferers. The price it promises--as much as 650 volts--could purpose a good deal much less harm to the eel itself.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND WATCH VIDEO CLICK THIS LINK http://www.studygtu.blogspot.com/2016/02/why-electric-fish-not-shock-them-self.html

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure whether a copy-paste answer is a good way to answer, even though you've given the link to it. $\endgroup$
    – Gonenc
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 14:31