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Channa melanopterus (Bleeker, 1855)
Blackfinned Snakehead

Channa melanopterus - Blackfinned Snakehead - click to enlarge

After Weber and de Beaufort, 1922; image reversed from original

Channa melanopterus - Blackfinned Snakehead - click to enlarge

After Bleeker, 1878

Original description: Ophicephalus melanopterus Bleeker, 1855:420. Negende bijdrage tot de kennis der ichthylogische fauna van Borneo. Zoetwaterfischen van Pontianak en Banjdermasin. Natuurkd. Tijdschr. Neder. Indi 9:415-430. Type locality: Kapuas River, Pontianak, Borneo, Indonesia. Location of holotype reported as unknown, but located by Musikasinthorn (2000) as RMNH 6416.

Synonyms: No known synonyms (Ng and Lim, 1990). Often confused with Channa marulius (Ng and Lim, 1990; P. Musikasinthorn, personal commun., 2002), and C. marulioides (Lee and Ng, 1994).

Common name: blackfinned snakehead.

         Native range: Kapuas River basin of Kalimantan (western Borneo) and possibly the southern tip of Sumatra (Roberts, 1989; Lee and Ng, 1994). These latter authors stated that records of this species from central Sumatra are misidentifications of Channa marulioides.

         Introduced range: No introductions known.

         Size: To at least 65 cm (Lee and Ng, 1994).

         Habitat preference: No specific information, but appears to be a riverine species.

         Temperature range: No specific information. Native range is equatorial to about 3o S.

         Reproductive habits: No information located, but likely a nest builder that provides parental protection of eggs and fry.

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

         Characters: No patch of scales on gular region of head. Dorsal fin rays 44-48; anal fin rays 28-32. Lateral line scales 54-57; predorsal scales 13-15. Lateral line curves downward at lateral line scales 16-18. Preopercular scales 5-8. Unfortunately, these characters are about equal to those of Channa marulioides. Lee and Ng (1994) stated that the only way to separate these two species is by coloration. Channa marulioides possesses an ocellated spot on the upper part of the caudal fin base, similar to that in C. marulius, and C. melanopterus lacks this ocellus. There are also differences in coloration of live individuals (Lee and Ng, 1994). Channa marulioides also differs from C. melanopterus in that the former often (but not always) possesses several patches of dark scales rimmed by white margins along the sides of the body (Lee and Ng, 1994).

         Commercial importance in the United States: Rarely mentioned in aquarist-oriented websites and probably has been rarely, if ever, available for sale in the aquarium fish trade. Unknown from live-food fish markets.

         Commercial importance in native range: No information found. Considering its moderate size, it is probably available at local live-food fish markets.

         Environmental concerns: Likely a thrust predator. This is a strictly tropical species that could only establish in extreme southern Florida, Hawaii, or warm thermal springs and their outflows if introduced.

Distribution of Cnanna melanopterus - click to enlarge


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