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Channa baramensis (Steindachner, 1901)
Baram Snakehead

Channa baramensis - Baram Snakehead - click to enlarge

After Steindachner, 1901

Channa baramensis - Baram Snakehead - click to enlarge

Live coloration (14.7 cm)

    Reprinted with permission from H.H. Ng and P.K.L. Ng from: Ng, H.H., and others, 1996. Revalidation of Channa baramensis (Steindachner, 1901), a species of snakehead from northern Borneo (Teleostei: Channidae). Sarawak Mus. J. 48(69 n.s.):219-226.

Original description: Ophicephalus baramensis Steindachner, 1901:435, pl. 17. Kukenthal’s Ergebnnisse einer zoologischen Forschungriese in den Molukken und Borneo. Abh. Senckenb. Naturforsch. Ges. 25:409-464, pls. 17-18. Type locality: Baram River, northern Sarawak (northern Borneo). Syntypes: SMF 860; SMF 8473.

Synonyms: Ophicephalus melasoma (Bleeker, 1851) fide Weber and de Beaufort (1922); Myers and Shapovalov (1932); Roberts (1989); Ng and Lim (1990); and Rainboth (1996). Ng and others (1996) revalidated the species and Musikasinthorn (2000) also recognized the species as valid.

Common names: Baram snakehead; barama snakehead.

         Native range: Northern Sarawak, Brunei, and western Sabah (northern Borneo). Also occurs in the Sadong basin, southern Sarawak, and the Segama basin, eastern Sabah (Martin-Smith and Hui, 1998).

         Introduced range: None.

         Size: To about 22 cm.

         Habitat preference: Known from blackwater swamps (Ng and others, 1996) and small to moderatesized streams, clear or turbid, in secondary growth or forest areas (Inger and Kong, 1962).

         Temperature range: No specific information, but native range is tropical (about 3-6o N).

         Reproductive habits: Habits can be inferred from those of its closest relative, Channa melasoma. Doubtlessly a nest builder like other channids with probably only one parent guarding eggs and young. Likely a nocturnal species.

         Feeding habits: Like Channa melasoma, probably a nocturnal thrust predator that feeds on other fishes, small reptiles, crabs, insects and insect larvae.

         Characters: No patch of scales on gular region. Dorsal fin rays 38-40; anal rays 23-26. Predorsal scales 8-9; lateral line scales 51-52. This species appears to be most closely related to Channa melasoma, and some characters overlap in both species (Ng and others, 1996). Nevertheless, adults (120 mm or more standard length) can be separated as follows: Lateral head profile of C. melasoma distinctly sharper. Postorbital depth greater in C. baramensis than in C. melasoma (33.3-34.1 percent of head length versus 27.9-31.8 percent of head length in C. melasoma) (Ng and others, 1996). There are also distinct differences in coloration. In closely related C. melasoma and C. cyanospilos, black pigment (melanin) appears as evenly spread over each scale, whereas in C. baramensis, melanin is concentrated in the central part of most scales in adults and most specimens smaller than 120 mm standard length. Moreover, there is a distinct barred pattern on the caudal fin in adult C. baramensis that is absent in C. melasoma and C. cyanospilos of similar lengths. This character, however, cannot be used to identify specimens smaller than about 120 mm standard length (Ng and others, 1996).

         Commercial importance in the United States: Unknown to have been imported for any purpose.

         Commercial importance in native range: Reported as caught by anglers, indicating use as a food fish (Ng and others, 1996). Probably only of minor commercial importance.

         Environmental concerns: This species is probably a nocturnal thrust predator. Its limited range in the tropics would restrict its ability to establish in all but the warmest waters of the U.S.

Distribution of Channa baramensis - click to enlarge


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