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Channa cyanospilos (Bleeker, 1853)
Bluespotted Snakehead

Channa cyanospilos - Bluespotted Snakehead - click to enlarge

    Reprinted with permission from P.K.L. Ng from: Lee, P.G., and P.K.L. Ng. 1991. The snakehead fishes of the Indo-Malayan region. Nature Malaysiana 16(4):112-129.

Channa cyanospilos - Bluespotted Snakehead - click to enlarge

After Bleeker, 1878

Original description: Ophicephalus cyanospilos Bleeker, 1853:256. Bleeker, P. Disgnostiche beschrijvingen van nieuwe of weining bekende vischsoorten van Sumatra. Tiental V-X. Tijdrschr. Neder. Indie 4:243-302. Type locality: Telok Betong (presently Bandar Lampung), southern Sumatra, Indonesia. Holotype locality unknown.

Synonyms: (?)Ophiocephalus striatus Weber and de Beaufort, 1922.
                   Channa sp. Ng and Lim, 1990.
                   (?)Channa striata Ng and Lim, 1990.

Common names: None known. The authors propose bluespotted snakehead as this character remains obvious in preserved specimens and is unknown in other channids from Indonesia or Malaysia (Ng and Lim, 1991).

         Native range: Sumatra and probably peninsular Malaysia and Kalimantan (Kapuas basin, western Borneo; Ng and Lim, 1991). Also found during 1995-1996 in Riau and Jambi, central Sumatra (Peter Ng, personal commun., 2003).

         Introduced range: No introductions known.

         Size: To at least 20 cm (Ng and Lim, 1991).

         Habitat preference: No specific information, but known from a tributary in the Sungei Alas (Alas River) basin, northern Sumatra.

         Temperature range: No specific information. The known native range of this species is between 3o N and 6o S, indicating a tropical, equatorial taxon.

         Reproductive habits: No information located. Probably a nest builder that guards its eggs and young like other snakeheads.

         Feeding habits: No information found. Likely a thrust predator as other snakeheads.

         Characters: No patch of scales in gular region of head. Dorsal fin rays 38-43; anal fin rays 24-26. Lateral line scales 51-55; predorsal scales (posterior to cephalic shields) 8. Small canines present on lower jaw. Pale blue spots on the lower half of the body from gill cover to caudal peduncle, remaining visible in preserved specimens.

         Weber and de Beaufort (1922) listed this species as a possible synonym of Channa striata, a practice followed for many decades. Ng and Lim (1990) cited the species in this same manner. Ng and Lim (1991), however, recognized the species as valid as did Kottelat and others (1993) and Musikasinthorn (2000). Ng and Lim (1991) allied C. cyanospilos with C. melasoma, rather than C. striata, based on morphological features, particularly with regard to the shapes of the throat region and ventral surfaces of the gill cover.

         Channa cyanospilos can be separated from C. melasoma by lower jaw length (5 percent standard length in C. cyanospilos, 12-13 percent in C. melasoma). Both species also have 8 predorsal scales behind the cephalic shields (7 in C. striata). Pale blue spots or blotches in the throat region of C. cyanospilos are similar to those in C. melasoma, but in the latter species the spots and blotches form a marbled pattern; C. striata lacks any blue spots in the throat region but has brown streaks and spots (Ng and Lim, 1991).

         Commercial importance in the United States: Not listed on aquarist-oriented websites and probably has been unavailable in the aquarium fish trade. Not known to have been imported or available in live-food fish markets.

         Commercial importance in native range: No information found. Probably occasionally caught by angling.

         Environmental concerns: Likely a thrust predator with a diet that includes fishes. Nevertheless, this species is tropical and probably would survive only in extreme southern Florida, Hawaii, and thermal springs and their outflows if introduced.

Distribution of Channa cyanospilos - click to enlarge


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