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Channa stewartii (Playfair, 1867)
Golden Snakehead

Channa stewartii - Golden Snakehead - click to enlarge

After Playfair, 1867

Original description: Ophiocephalus stewartii Playfair, 1867:14, pl. 3. On the fishes of Cachar. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1867(1):14-17, pl. 3. Type locality: Cachar, Assam, India. Syntypes: BMNH 1867.2.14.19-20.

Synonyms: None known.

Common names: golden snakehead; Assamese snakehead; sengalee (Assam, India; Talwar and Jhingran, 1992); helae (Nepal).

         Native range: Endemic to Brahmaputra (upper, middle, lower) River basin of India and Bangladesh, and the Ganges River basin from southern Nepal southeastward (Sen, 1985; Talwar and Jhingran, 1992; Musikasinthorn, 2000). In southern Nepal, it occurs in the Kamala, Bagmati, Koshi, Gandaki, and Karnali River basins (Shrestha, 1990).

         Introduced range: Introductions unknown.

         Size: To 25.4 cm (Sen, 1985).

         Habitat preference: Flowing and standing water (Talwar and Jhingran, 1992); marshes and estuaries, and tolerant of limited salinity (Sen, 1985). Sen and Dey (1984) recorded this species from altitudes above 1,500 m in Meghalaya, a plateau north of Bangladesh and south of the Brahmaputra River, India.

         Temperature range: No specific information. Native range is about 22-27o N, indicating a warm temperate to subtropical species.

         Reproductive habits: No specific information, but probably a nest builder providing eggs and young with parental care.

         Feeding habits: No specific information, but likely a thrust predator like other snakeheads.

         Characters: No patch of scales on gular region of head. Dorsal fin with 39-40 rays; anal fin rays 27. Pelvic fin about one-third as long as pectoral. Lateral line scales 47-50; scale rows between preopercular angle and posterior border of orbit 4-5; predorsal scales 13. Dorsal fin originates above base of pectoral fin. Black spots on many body scales.

         Commercial importance in the United States: Rarely mentioned in aquarist-oriented websites but available through aquarium fish trade. Not known to be available in live-food fish markets.

         Commercial importance in native range: Talwar and Jhingran (1992) stated that this species is of only minor fishery interest.

         Environmental concerns: Likely a thrust predator, feeding on other fishes and invertebrates.

         Comments: The diploid chromosome number of Channa stewartii is 104 (Rishi and Haobam, 1984).

Distribution of Channa stewartii - click to enlarge


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