10 Types Of Snakehead Fish

10 Types Of Snakehead Fish

Snakehead fishes belong to the family Channidae, a group of freshwater predatory fish species. They have long snake-like bodies, large mouths, and sharp teeth. They are found in various aquatic environments that include lakes rivers swamps among others in Asia and Africa.

One particular characteristic of snakehead fish is their ability to breathe air. When they are out of the water, they have a special breathing organ called a labyrinth organ to take oxygen from the atmosphere.  Although often regarded as an invader, some people still consider snakeheads good games for fishing.

The reason why people go after this fish is not only because of its fighting abilities but also its size. This has made it to be one of the most sought-after by sport fishermen across the globe. In some areas in Asia, these fish are eaten and are usually cooked either as soups or stews. So let us now present you with 10 types of snakehead fish through this article.

Key Point:

1. Invasive species is the name given to those fish that are from other countries and have harmful effects including in the USA.

2. Snakehead fish, however, possess a special organ called the labyrinth organ that allows them to extract oxygen through air-breathing.

3. They are also known for their voracious appetites and can eat prey up to half their size.

4. Their reproductive pattern distinguishes snakehead fish. They are capable of laying thousands of eggs at once.

5. There are some parts of Asia where they are eaten, especially in soups or stews.

List Of Snakehead Fish


1. Northern Snakehead (Channa argus)

Northern Snakehead

Native to China, Russia, and Korea, the Northern Snakehead is a freshwater fish species. Commonly known as a snakehead fish, it has an elongated body with long jaws giving it its common name. Normally, It has olive-green or brownish skin coloration with dark blotches or spots along the sides and underbelly that are lighter in color. The dorsal fin of the northern snakehead is long and connected, while its tail is rounded.

Northern Snakeheads have voracious appetites and are very aggressive. These carnivorous predators feed on various aquatic organisms including fishes, crustaceans, amphibians, etc. They are known to be able to survive even in low oxygen levels or polluted waters.

The Northern Snakehead became invasive in parts of the United States recently after its discovery in Maryland pond in 2002. This spread happened after that to Virginia Pennsylvania and New York among others. Actions taken towards this end have included electrofishing as well as using nets and even poisoning by chemicals.

However, this rapid reproduction rate combined with its ability to adapt itself to any given environment makes these pervasive creatures difficult to get rid of completely. It is a popular food fish in some parts of Asia, where it is often served in soups and stews. However, it is not widely consumed in the United States, where it is considered a nuisance species.


2. Giant Snakehead (Channa micropeltes)

Giant Snakehead

The Giant Snakehead is an enormous freshwater fish that is found in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It is also in some parts of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This freshwater fish stands tall with the adults reaching 1 meter long (3.3 feet) and weighing up to 20 kgs (44 pounds).

It has a long body covered with large cycloid scales that are usually green dark brown above and lighter beneath. The creature’s proportions notably include a broad mouth full of sharp teeth on its big head as well as elevated eyes.

This predator is at the top of the food chain and feeds on small fish and crustaceans sometimes even small mammals are its prey. In its ecosystem, this snake-headed fish is a dominant force feeding on smaller fishes, crustaceans, or mammals. It is highly sought after by anglers in its homeland who appreciate its size and tenacity when caught as a game fish.


3. Cobra Snakehead (Channa marulius)

Cobra Snakehead

The Cobra Snakehead (Channa marulius) is a large freshwater fish species native to South and Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Myanmar. It is also found in parts of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

This species is identified by its impressive size where grown-ups usually grow to an average length of 1.5 meters (5 feet) and an average weight of up to 20 kg (44 pounds). Its slender body is covered with big cycloid scales which are mostly dark brown or black with a white belly. It has a broad head which is an extensive mouth full of sharp teeth; it also has a high set of eyes on top of its head.

Being the apex predator the cobra snakehead eats small fishes, crustaceans, and even small animals like mammals. It is a popular game fish in its native range, prized for its fighting ability and size. However, it is considered an invasive species in some areas outside of its natural range, including parts of the United States and the Philippines, where it has been introduced for sport fishing.


4. Bullseye Snakehead (Channa lucius)

Bullseye Snakehead

The bullseye snakehead is a freshwater creature that lives in the Southeast Asian region, particularly in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It is also found in parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

This kind of species has always been identified with relatively small size when compared to other snakeheads whereby adults average 30cm (12 inches) and may weigh up to 1kg (2.2lb). The body is longish with huge cycloid scales that have a greenish-brown look on top and white at the underbelly. The head is a small rounded head with a large mouth full of sharp teeth and the eyes are positioned very high on it.

The Bullseye Snakehead fish is a predator that feeds on smaller fish, shrimp as well as insects; it behaves very aggressively. Though not as famous among fishermen as other snakeheads that are preferred for their gamefish qualities, it still has worth because of its fighting strength or size. Furthermore, there are some areas where this species is considered invasive such as outside its native range including the United States and the Philippines.


5. Blotched Snakehead (Channa maculata)

Blotched Snakehead

Blotched snakehead is a freshwater fish species found in Southeast Asia mainly in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It is also in some parts of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

This kind is famous for being small compared to other types of Snakeheads. As adults, it usually reaches an average length of 30 centimeters (12 inches) and weighs about one kg (2.2 pounds). The body has a very elongated shape and is covered with big cycloid scales that are often brownish overall but lighter on the belly side. It has a small rounded head with a wide mouth full of sharp teeth; its eyes are situated up high above the head.

Blotched Snakehead does not enjoy the fame that some snakehead species do as game fish but still, it is highly valued because of its fighting ability and size. In certain regions, this fish can be regarded as invasive since it cannot live beyond its natural habitat like in the United States or Philippines where it was introduced for sport fishing reasons.


 6. Gachua Snakehead (Channa gachua)

Gachua Snakehead

The Gachua Snakehead is a species of freshwater fish; it’s in South and Southeast Asia, particularly found in places like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia. Parts of China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam also have this species.

Compared to other snakeheads, this species is relatively small with adults usually growing to around 10 inches (25 cm) long and weighing up to 7 ounces (200 grams). Its elongated body has big cycloid scales that are mostly brownish with lighter underparts. The head is small and round with a broad mouth containing sharp teeth while eyes are placed high on the head.

Though not as popular as some other snakeheads for sport angling purposes it still has a reputation for being tough fighting fish that can grow quite large. It is also an invasive species beyond its native habitat range evident in parts of the United States as well as the Philippines.


7. Rainbow Snakehead (Channa bleheri)

Rainbow Snakehead

The rainbow snakehead is another type of freshwater fish that can only be found in some parts of India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Similarly, it is also found in various regions within Southeast Asia which include Thailand and Malaysia. This species has a bright coloration consisting of shades of blue, green, and red among others as well as iridescent scales that give the impression of a rainbow.

The Rainbow Snakehead is a relatively small species, with adults typically reaching lengths of 20-30 centimeters (8-12 inches) and weights of up to 200 grams (7 ounces). This snakefish body is elongated and covered in small, cycloid scales. The head is small and rounded, with a wide mouth filled with sharp teeth, and the eyes are set high on the head.

The Snakehead fish is not as popular as a game fish as some other snakehead species, but it is still prized for its unique appearance and size. It is also considered an invasive species in some areas outside of its natural range, including parts of the United States and the Philippines, where it has been introduced for sport fishing.


    8. Great Snakehead (Channa marulioides)

    Great Snakehead

    The Great Snakehead is a freshwater fish species native to Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It is also found in parts of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

    This fish species is a large one with adults growing up to 4 feet, and weighing over 44 pounds; it has been known to grow up to 20 kg. The longish body possesses huge cycloid scales that are typically black or dark brown above and light beneath. With an enormous head and mouth full of sharp teeth, the eyes are placed high on top.

    The Great Snakehead typically feeds on small animals such as other fishes, crustaceans, and occasionally even small mammals. This fighting game fish can be found in its home range where it is highly appreciated for its fighting ability as well as size.


    9. Ocellated Snakehead (Channa pleurophthalma)

    Ocellated Snakehead

    The Ocellated Snakehead is a type of freshwater fish found in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It can also be found in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. This species is known for its relatively smaller size compared to other snakeheads with adults commonly reaching sizes of 30cm (12 inches) and weighing up to 1kg (2.2 pounds). 

    This snakehead fish has an elongated body covered by large cycloid scales that are usually brownish-colored with a lighter underbelly. The head is small and rounded with a wide mouth filled with sharp teeth while the eyes are situated high on the head. As a carnivorous predator, it feeds on small fish, crustaceans, and insects.

    Amongst other snakehead species, this one does not have such a reputation as a game fish; however, it is appreciated for its power to fight and its large size. Also as an invasive species outside its natural habitat range including the United States as well as the Philippines where it has been introduced for sport fishing.


    10. Parachanna Snakehead (Parachanna obscura)

    Parachanna Snakehead

    The Parachanna Snakehead, also referred to as the African snakehead is a tropical species native to West and Central Africa. More particularly, it occupies parts of Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This type has a relatively small size when compared with other snakeheads whereby adults typically grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) long and weigh over 2 pounds (1 kg). 

    Its body is elongated and covered with large cycloid scales that are generally dark brown or black on the upper part with a lighter underbelly in shades of white or yellow. It has a small round head with a wide mouth full of sharp teeth and eyes located high on the head.

     It feeds on smaller fish crustaceans such as insects so it is a carnivorous predator by nature. Particularly, it exhibits aggressive behavior especially when protecting its territory or young against intruders.  Among other snakehead species, the Parachanna Snakehead is not loved much as an angling quarry; however, its belligerence traits and growth usually make it more valuable for landing sport fishers. 


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