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Snakeheads: An Overview and What’s Available on TF2YD
26 October 2019
Oddball fish are species which do not fall into the more common categories of shoaling or community fish. Most oddballs have quite unique features and qualities. Some may be safe to keep in a more standard or common community tank with cautious consideration. But other oddballs may be quite delicate or significantly predatory and therefore only suitable for a species tank. Oddballs come in many shapes and sizes.
Snakeheads belong to the family Channidae which is a group of perch like fish. The name ’Snakehead’ was given due to the snake like scales covering their heads and their flattened snake like shape. Snakeheads make great aquarium fish when cared for properly.
These fish are naturally occur throughout eastern Afghanistan, China, Siberia, the White Nile and finally all the way towards the Congo river in Africa.
Officially, the Channa genera contains 31 species and Parachanna contains 3. It is worth noting that the diversity is actually greater and several undescribed species eg Channa sp. 'lal cheng' and Channa sp. 'Kerala five stripe' have already reached the aquarium trade.
Juvenile Snakeheads are more attractively marked than adults, often featuring a bright yellow to deep orange or red stripe running across the length it’s body. It is worth mentioning that with age, these colours reduce in vibrancy.
Generally speaking, the Snakehead habitat consists of soft water (8 GH) which is slightly acidic to neutral (pH 5.0-7.0). These values represent a suitable guide to successful maintain an ideal aquarium environment for the Snakehead. Remember, they are obligatory air breathers too and must have air or they will they drown.
Because Snakeheads are not active swimmers, unless they are feeding they tend to move about more when they are surfacing for air. They spend a lot of time hovering in midwater or resting on the bottom within cover as ambush predators. It is a great idea to provide a decent amount of hiding spaces in the form of driftwood and submerged vegetation. A surface cover, perhaps in the form of floating plants, is also recommended.
Snakeheads also have a deserved reputation as voracious carnivores and one would think that within the aquarium they could only be fed live food. However, many aquarists find they can be weaned on to meaty foods such as chunks of fish and sinking meaty pellets.
It is a common misconception that Snakeheads are not suitable for the community tank. This is somewhat untrue and some (depending on the species) do actually make good community fish. Consideration needs to be made of the species size and then the size of the tank mates. For example, a school of Tetras with Snakeheads would not work as the Tetras were small and would be seen as a snack. It is a good idea to keep Snakeheads with fish that are too large to be considered a meal. Medium-sized snakeheads (30-40cm) may work with relatively fast swimming and robust tank mates like medium-large cyprinids are therefore ideal. Smaller Snakeheads, despite being predatory, are often unassertive in nature and can therefore be made the victim at the hands of large aggressive fish like a large cichlid for example.
Snakeheads which are available on TF2YD are listed below, click the names of each species to read their profile information and view the link to buy online:
Fire & Ice Snakehead
Meghalaya Leopard Snakehead
Golden Cobra Snakehead
Galaxy Blue Snakehead or Meghalaya Leopard Snakehead
Niger or African Snakehead
Orange Spotted Snakehead
Kerela 5 Stripe Snakehead