Channidae is a family of freshwater fish commonly known as snakeheads, and is native to Africa and Asia. There are two extant genera, Channa in Asia, and Parachanna in Africa, consisting of 30-35 species. These predatory fishes are distinguished by a long dorsal fin, small head with large head scales on top, large mouth and teeth. They have a physiological need to breathe atmospheric air, which they do with a suprabranchial organ: a primitive form of a labyrinth organ.
They are considered valuable food fish. Larger species like Channa striata, Channa maculata or Parachanna obscura are farmed in aquaculture. Snakeheads feed on plankton, aquatic insects, and mollusks when small. When adult, they mostly feed on other fish like carp, or frogs. In rare cases, small mammals such as rats are taken. The size of the snakehead species differs greatly. "Dwarf snakeheads" like Channa gachua grow to 10 inches (25 cm). Most snakeheads grow up to 2 or 3 ft. (60–100 cm). Only two species (Channa marulius and Channa micropeltes) can reach a length of more than 1 meter and a weight of more than 6 kg.
It is illegal to keep snakeheads as pets in thirteen states of the USA and other countries as they have become an invasive species due to irresponsible owners releasing them into the wild when they could/would no longer take care of them. If in an enclosed area they will try anything to escape. If in an aquarium they will charge at full force and tend to knock over the aquarium or shatter the glass. Channidae is also known as the the Northern Snakehead, or Channa Argus, and is native to Asia. There are 29 known Snakehead varieties.
The National Geographic Channel reported:
When the Snakehead eats it is a thrust predator. It will eat its prey all at once, striking and ingesting it whole.
The Giant Snakehead, or Channa micropeltes, is native throughout Asia, and is the most aggressive Snakehead. They can grow to over 1.5 metres long. Adult Snakeheads force their hatchlings to breathe air by pushing them to the surface.
From 2002 to 2003, one Los Angeles supermarket was found to have sold approximately 25,000 dollars worth of illegal live Snakeheads which caused breakouts in local eco systems.
It has had recent sightings in Lincolnshire (UK) (which proved to be hoax) and in the U.S. National Geographic referred to it as "Fishzilla".
There are about 30-35 species in two genera:
Snakeheads became a national news topic in the US because of the appearance of northern snakeheads spawning in a Maryland pond in 2002. Northern snakeheads became permanently established in the Potomac River around 2004, and possibly established in Florida. Apparently non-established specimens have been found in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York, as well as Wawayanda, New York, two ponds outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a pond in Massachusetts, and reservoirs in California and North Carolina.
They are prohibited in several other countries, like Australia, because their introduction to new ecosystems may displace indigenous species. Humans have been introducing snakeheads to non-indigenous waters for over 100 years. In parts of Asia and Africa, the snakehead is considered a valuable food fish and is produced in aquacultures. Due to this fact it was introduced either on purpose (fisheries motivation) or by ignorance (as was the case in Crofton).
Some examples of the introduction of snakeheads to non-indigeneous waters include:
A comprehensive work on the dangers of the introduction of snakeheads to non-indigeneous waters is that of Prof. W. Courtenay
On February 19, 2008 it was reported that a snakehead weighing almost was caught in the River Witham near North Hykeham, Lincolnshire. The Angler's Mail confirmed it was a giant snakehead Channa micropeltes. This subsequently turned out to be a hoax. The Norfolk Eastern Daily Press reported in March:
Approximately one to two weeks after the application of the herbicides, application of the piscicide Rotenone kills any remaining fish. Dead fish should be removed daily; however, unpleasant odors from decaying organic material are to be expected.
Preliminary study on the aspects of the biology of snakehead fish Parachanna Obscura (Gunther) in a Nigerian wetland.(Report)
Mar 01, 2011; INTRODUCTION Fish is an important source of protein in terms of its nutritional value and affordability especially to the world's...