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common name for members of the family Channidae, hardy freshwater fish native to S and E Asia and tropical Africa, where they are a popular food fish. Snakeheads are elongated fishes with long dorsal and anal fins, small heads, large mouths, sharp teeth, and slimy skin. They use primitive lungs as well as gills to breathe, and some are able to migrate over land. Voracious predatory fish, they feed mostly on other fish. A number of the species are raised in aquaculture in their native ranges. The northern snakehead (Channa argus) and the giant snakehead (Channa micropeltes), both of which may exceed 40 in. (1 m) in length, have been found as introduced species in the United States since 2002, where they have no natural enemies and are considered invasive.



(Ophicephalus argus), a freshwater fish of the order Ophiocephaloidea. The body is elongated (up to 85 cm long) and weighs up to 7 kg. The dorsal and anal fins are long. The head is flattened and covered with scales and looks like the head of a snake (hence the name); the mouth opening is large.

The snakehead has an epibranchial organ for breathing air; the fish can live in polluted waters and even out of water (for several days). It is found in the Amur basin and Lake Khanka, and also in China and Korea. It lives alone or in small groups, feeding on small fish and bottom organisms. Spawning takes place in June and July in several sessions. The average egg capacity is 7,300. The eggs are pelagic. The snakehead builds a large nest (up to 1 m in diameter) out of stalks and leaves at the surface of the water. The larvae stay near the nest; the fish reach sexual maturity in the third year. Snakeheads have some commercial importance. In some places they are raised by stocking ponds with larvae. Snake-heads have been acclimatized in Middle Asia.


Berg, L. S. Ryby presnykh vod SSSR i sopredel’nykh stran, 4th ed., part 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Pmmyslovve ryby SSSR. Moscow, 1949.


References in periodicals archive ?
The good news (depending on your possibly selfish point of view) is that if your local waters already are home to exotic brown hoplos or spotted tilapia, they're probably good habitat for snakeheads, which share the same lower lethal temperature.
Abstract Larval snakehead Channa striatus were fed with three cladocerans (Ceriodaphnia cornuta, Moina micrura and Daphnia carinata) and Artemia nauplii at the rate (500 Ind./Fish-day) to record growth, survival and cannibalism.
An adult northern snakehead was discovered last Thursday by scientists in a river just south of Annapolis, Maryland.
Patrick Radden Keefe, The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream.
"While the snakeheads of Crofton are gone, a very important and serious issue remains.
And the ruthless crime gang dubbed "snakeheads" by Judge Guy Whitburn - who sneaked him into the UK will be waiting, the court heard.
Similar to Chin's findings in Smuggled Chinese: Clandestine Immigration to the United States (1999), snakeheads saw themselves largely as philanthropists or as ordinary business persons.
In the third book, Robyn and her friends start out helping injured birds in the streets of downtown Toronto and end up embroiled in the world of people-smuggling and "snakeheads."
The vast majority have come to the United States illegally as indentured servants of human smugglers, or "snakeheads," and arrived in Lower Manhattan, replacing the Cantonese who populated Chinatown in the early twentieth century.
Police also arrested South Korean snakeheads Tuesday, the paper said.
The jury had heard from an immigration investigator that Snakeheads charge pounds 20,000 for taking people from China to Britain.
But, as in the movie version, not all the snakeheads were -killed.