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Channa micropeltes (Red Snakehead, Giant Snakehead)

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Juveniles are very attractive, with prominent red and black bands along the flanks. They are active and very alert. As the fish mature, the red band shifts to orange and eventually fades away completely. The adults are striking rather than pretty, with a green-grey upper surface and an off-white underside. Adults are powerfully built, very strong fish with a vicious bite and must be handled with extreme care.

The final adult size of these fish should not be underestimated. Wild specimens can reach 130 cm and weigh 20 kg. Captive specimens are a bit smaller, but still far larger than the average home aquarist can accommodate. Primarily a food fish, occasional specimens to turn up in the hobby from time to time. Before purchasing this species do consider its needs very carefully.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):

Juveniles are relatively sociable and get along well with each other. As the mature they become increasingly snappy towards one another, and ultimately become territorial loners.

Because of their aggressiveness and predatory nature, they are not really viable animals for mixed species aquaria and are best kept on their own. The only safe tankmates would be very large, heavily armoured thorny catfish like Oxydoras niger.

Feeding presents no problems as they will consume just about any meaty food, including whitebait, seafood, river shrimps, earthworms, etc. Juveniles will eat insect larvae and crustaceans of various sorts. The main problem is overfeeding, and the consequent excessive load on the biological filter. Contrary to myth, they do not need live food, and certainly not feeder fish such as goldfish or minnows.

Breeding does occur in farms, but is not possible in home aquaria. After spawning, the males guard the nest and the eggs, supposedly rather fiercely!

Family Group: Snakeheads
Distribution Southeast Asia
Temperature 24-28 C
Size 130 cm in the wild; typically 90-100 cm in captivity
Water Parameters Adaptable, but avoid extremes
Water PH 6.0-8.0
Schooling Fish No
Care Level Expert only
Sociability Aggressive
Diet Adaptable
Water Chemistry Adaptable