Why Is the 'Eel Daddy' Building a Pit of Eels In His Basement?

Nick Tobler has a rather unusual habit, even for a straight man: he raises eels in his basement. Tobler, who goes by @cowturtle, has amassed 205,000 followers who tune into his TIkTok channel to watch his eel daddy adventures.

It all started last March, when Tobler moved into a new house and came to a conclusion that few other people likely would: that his basement would be the perfect place for an eel pond. He set up air pumps and a cinder block boardwalk for him to walk on, and filled the pond with some other small sea creatures like goldfish to create the ideal eel oasis. 

“I’ve always been [interested in aquatic life],” the saltwater-aquarium shop owner says on this week’s episode of Don’t Let This Flop, Rolling Stone‘s podcast about internet culture. “[It probably started] from watching Steve Irwin and then with Pokemon and Animal Crossing, and when I wasn’t playing that I’d just be out in the woods catching stuff.”

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Tobler has long toyed with the possibility of building an “animal enclosure” inside his home, but the basement in his new house provided the perfect opportunity to raise eels specifically, as the fish love cold, dark water. “It’s totally waterproof,” he says. “Right now it’s a cave. Down the road, I might turn it into a swamp. There are endless possibilities for me.”

My new house comes with a future eel pond! #aquariums #fishtanks #fish #fishtok

♬ original sound – cowturtle