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Southeast Ecological Science Center
Channa barca (Hamilton, 1822)
After Hamilton, 1822
Original description: Ophiocephalus barca Hamilton, 1822:67, pl. 35, fig. 20. An account of the fishes found in the River Ganges and its branches. Edinburgh and London. i-vii + 1-405, pls. 1-39. Type locality: Brahmaputra River, near Goalpara, Assam, India. Types unknown.
Synonyms: Ophicephalus nigricans Cuvier, 183:431.
Common name: barca snakehead.
Native range: Endemic to Ganges and Brahmaputra River basin, India and Bangladesh (Musikasinthorn, 2000). Bhuiyan (1964) cited its presence in eastern and some areas of western Pakistan but this may be a misidentification.
Introduced range: No introductions known.
Size: To 90 cm (Talwar and Jhingran, 1992).
Habitat preference: Large rivers (Talwar and Jhingran, 1992).
Temperature range: No specific information. Nevertheless, its native range is located between about 25-27o N, suggesting it is a warm temperate species.
Reproductive habits: No detailed information, but like other snakehead species, it is assumed to clear a nest in nearshore vegetation, lay pelagic eggs which, following fertilization, rise to the surface where they are guarded vigorously by one or both parents until hatching.
Characters: Body elongated, mostly rounded. Mouth large; lower jaw with a few canines behind a single row of villiform teeth that widen to 5 or 6 rows at jaw symphysis; 2 or 3 large teeth on vomer and some on palatines. Scales on top of head large; 9 scale rows between preopercular angle and posterior border of orbit; predorsal scales 15; 60 to 65 scales in longitudinal series. Dorsal fin rays 47-52; anal fin rays 34-36; pectoral rays 16; pelvic fin rays 6. Life colors violet on back fading to dull white with purple cast on sides; back and sides with large black blotches, as are dorsal, anal, and caudal fins; fin edges red; pectoral fins red with numerous black spots.
Commercial importance in the United States: Typically not listed on aquarist-oriented websites. Likelihood of being imported for sale in aquarium fish trade or live-food fish markets has been low to probably nonexistent.
Commercial importance in native range: While reported as common in the Brahmaputra River, Assam, India, it is said to be of minor importance as a fishery resource. Nevertheless, it is considered an excellent food fish (Talwar and Jhingran, 1992).
Environmental concerns: Like other snakeheads, adults are carnivorous predators, most preferring other fishes as food.
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