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Channa amphibeus (McClelland, 1845)
Chel Snakehead

Channa amphibeus - Chel Snakehead - click to enlarge

After Shaw and Shebbeare, 1938

Original description: Ophiocephalus amphibeus McClelland, 1845:274-282. Description of four species of fishes at the foot of the Boutan Mountains. Journal of Natural History, Calcutta, 5(18):274-282. Type locality: vicinity of tributaries of the Teesta (=Tista) River below the Boutan (Bhutan) mountains. Neotype: ZSI F 11435.

Synonyms: Ophiocephalus amphibius [sic], Day, 1877:365.
                   Ophiocephalus amphibius [sic], Shaw and Shebbeare,
                           1938:119-121 (vicinity of Chel River, northern Bengal).
                   Channa amphibia [sic], Jayaram, 1981.
                   Channa amphibius [sic], Talwar and Jhingran, 1992.
                   Channa amphibious [sic], Eschmeyer, 1998:92.

Common names: In northern Bengal: bora cheng (Mechi), borna (Rabha) (Shaw and Shebbeare, 1938). We suggest Chel snakehead.

         Native range: Endemic to Chel River basin, Brahmaputra River drainage, northeastern India and Bhutan (Musikasinthorn, 2000).

         Introduced range: No introductions known.

         Size: To about 25 cm.

         Habitat preference: No specific information, but distribution indicates preference for rivers, streams, ponds, perhaps swamps in the Chel River basin, Brahmaputra drainage, of northeastern India and Bhutan (Musikasinthorn, 2000). Shaw and Shebbeare (1938) reported that during rainy periods, young are found “in flooded paddy-fields enclosed by forest; large fish can be found in pools of dried streams in forests.”

         Temperature range: No specific information. Habitat preference and range indicate a warm temperate to subtropical species.

         Reproductive habits: No specific information, but probably builds a cylindrical nest in vegetation and produces pelagic eggs.

         Feeding habits: No specific information, but likely a carnivorous predator as an adult.

         Characters: Gular part of head without patch of scales. Dorsal fin rays 50; anal fin rays 35; pectoral fin rays 15, pelvics 6; lateral line scales 81; cheek scales 9; scale rows above lateral line 5, below lateral line 13; predorsal scales 17; two large scales on underside of both sides of lower jaw. Head length 27.6 percent standard length; anal fin length less than 50 percent of pectoral fin length. Mouth large, maxilla extending far beyond posterior margin of eye. Many small conical teeth in premaxilla; three large conical teeth in prevomer; about four medium-sized canines on each side of palatine; row of about five canine teeth on each dentary, smaller than those on palatine; many small conical teeth on outer part of dentary. Characters based on neotype (Musikasinthorn, 2000).

         Commercial importance in the United States: Unlisted on aquarist-oriented websites. Negligible likelihood of being imported for sale in aquarium fish trade or live-food fish markets.

         Commercial importance in native range: Unknown.

         Environmental concerns: Unknown, but the species is probably a predator on other fishes and invertebrates.

Distribution of Channa amphibeus - click to enlarge


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