Electric eel Christmas tree lights, unusual renewable energy source.

Visitors to the Tennessee aquarium may be shocked to learn that the Christmas tree is being powered by an unusual renewable energy source – an electric eel.

The flashy fish goes by the name of Miguel Wattson and has his own Twitter account, @EelectricMiguel.


A special system connected to Miguel’s tank enables his naturally-occurring shocks to power strands of lights on a nearby tree, the aquarium said in a news statement. Miguel releases low-voltage blips of electricity when he is trying to find food, aquarist Kimberly Hurt said.

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That translates to a rapid, dim blinking of the Christmas lights. When he is eating or excited he emits higher voltage shocks which cause bigger flashes.

Wattson’s Twitter account allows him to share tweets generated by his sparky self, courtesy of coding by Tennessee Tech University’s iCube center, an innovation unit for students and faculty.

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“They combined electrical engineering and emerging business communication to give the eel a voice,” center director Kevin Liska said.

In between Miguel’s tweets boasting statements like “SHAZAM!!!!” and “ka-BLAMEROO!!!!!,” a video posted to the account shows Miguel shaking in his tank as lights on the nearby tree sputter on and off.

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The aquarium hopes the Christmas tree will a powerful appreciation for the often feared electric eel and under appreciated eels of all kinds.

The lighting up ceremony earlier this week – dubbed by some “shocking around the Christmas tree” inspired a widespread glow of affection for Miguel and his extraordinary powers to illuminate can be seen in full effect from now until Christmas.



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