What Is A Snakehead Fish

What Is A Snakehead Fish? Find Out Here

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What Is A Snakehead Fish?

The snakeheads are members of the freshwater perciform fish family Channidae, native to parts of Africa and Asia.
These elongated, predatory fish are distinguished by their long dorsal fins, big mouths, and shiny teeth. They breathe air with gills, which enables them to migrate short distances over land.

Description and Habitat

The killer snakehead is tan with dark brown mottled patches in appearance and can reach a maximum length of approximately 33 inches when fully grown. Ahead reminiscent of a snake is what gives this fish its name.

With a need to breath oxygenated atmosphere, the killer snakehead fish can and does live outside of water for between 3 and 4 times. When juveniles, using their fins to propel themselves, they are also able to travel as far as a quarter mile between bodies of water. As they are difficult to contain, this makes them a formidable opponent as an invasive species.

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A freshwater species, the killer snakehead makes its home in lakes and slow-moving streams with a salinity of no more than 10 parts per thousand. The fish can float during cold weather in cracks and can survive drought weather by burrowing into muddy banks of the lakes and streams it calls home. As mentioned above, the snakehead uses a lung that is particular for that purpose so they can survive out of the water, and as young fish can travel between bodies of water and needs to breathe air.

Snakehead fish facts

One of the killer snakehead fish facts is that it’s considered an invasive species in areas outside of its native China. First found in the United States in Crofton, Maryland, the fish have used their ability to travel to spread broadly.

Furthermore, they reach maturity and replicate which is another burden on ecosystems that the snakehead invades.

Young snakehead feeds on plankton from the water and then while adults feed on freshwater fish species fingerling fish. Because of this, the killer snakehead fish can decimate populations of other fish, which can affect local fisheries.

Among the biggest fears with the killer snakehead in the United States is that they may invade the Great Lakes ecosystem. As 20% of the world’s freshwater, the Great Lakes are important ecologically and are under pressure from over 180 invasive species. It’s thought that issues could be caused by the killer snakehead if introduced. An individual snakehead was found in Lake Michigan off the shore of Chicago in 2004, but there have been no sightings since that time and it appears to have been an isolated incident.

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What do snakehead fish eat

Fish is eaten by snakeheads. They have a similar diet to largemouth bass, but largemouth eats much more crayfish and other species such as frogs, turtles, snakes, etc..

How did the snakehead fish get to America

Prior to being added to the list of injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act in October 2002, which prohibited import and interstate transportation without a license from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, snakeheads were sold in pet shops and in live food fish markets and some restaurants in a number of major U.S. cities, such as Boston, New York, and St. Louis. Live specimens are confiscated by police in Alabama, California, Florida, Texas, Virginia, and Washington where possession of live snakeheads is prohibited.

Some snakeheads residing in natural waters of the U.S. might have been published by aquarium hobbyists or those expecting to set up a local food source. Additionally, some cultures practice “prayer creature release”, a faith-based action where individuals purchase, then release, an animal (fish, amphibian, reptile, or bird) to make merits with a deity.

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The fish could survive on land for up to four times, allowing it to migrate. Snakehead fish have the ability to breath air due to an air bladder which functions as a lung.