Channa Maculata (Blotched Snakehead)

Channa Maculata

Last updated on August 3rd, 2022 at 05:09 am

Channa maculata, also known as the blotched snakehead, is an omnivorous freshwater fish, from the Channidae family, that can be found in ponds and slow-moving streams in India, Myanmar, and Thailand. This species has been successfully bred in captivity using off-the-shelf aquarium equipment and commercial feed pellets, so it makes an ideal choice for beginners looking to get into the hobby of fish keeping.

In fact, hobbyists have reported that this species’ gentle nature and willingness to eat just about anything make it one of the easiest fish to care for.

Channa maculata, or the Blotched Snakehead, is one of the most popular species of fish to keep in freshwater aquariums. This hardy, colorful fish can thrive in nearly any water condition for as long as it has plenty of room to swim and its basic needs are met.

In many parts of the world, Channa maculata (Blotched Snakehead) fish have become popular additions to aquariums because of their vibrant colors and interesting behaviors.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it is particularly easy to care for this species and they can be rather aggressive towards other fish in an aquarium environment.

Learn more about this species and how you can properly care for them if you have one in your home aquarium below.

Origin and descriptions

Channa Maculata

Channa maculata is a freshwater fish that was originally found in Southeast Asia. It was introduced to Italy in 1995 and later to France, Germany, and Belgium for commercial purposes. Due to its high tolerance for varying water conditions, it has become an invasive species in Europe since 2008 when it was first reported in Italy’s Po River.

Channa maculata is one of many species of snakeheads. It is native to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. It can also be found in Taiwan and it has been introduced to Hawaii, Indonesia, and Japan. In most regions, it is considered an invasive species.

The snakehead is considered a high-risk species because of its high reproductive capability and eating habits. This lowland fish spawns several times throughout the year and can produce up to 10,000 eggs at once. They primarily feed on small invertebrates but will also consume smaller fish if available.

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Species profile

Channa Maculata

Channa maculata is a species of snakeheads and are endemic to Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives Islands, and Thailand. They are native to tropical freshwaters such as rivers and lakes.

These fish typically dwell at a depth range of 0–1 m (0–3 ft). The males of these species exhibit varying characteristics in coloration depending on age and habitat. Breeding takes place from October through March while they are living in their natural habitats. When it comes to feeding, they feed upon crustaceans, insects, and plant matter.


Channa maculata lives in freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes. They can also be found in canals, ditches, reservoirs, swamps, and other large bodies of fresh water. These snakeheads are opportunistic predators and consume mostly anything they can fit into their mouths. This includes aquatic insects, crustaceans like crawfish and shrimp as well as smaller fish species. They have even been known to feed on birds that get too close to their habitat.

Channa maculata size

These species grow to an average size of 7.9-11.8 inches (20-30cm) in length. Channa maculata max size has been recorded to be 13 inches (33 cm)

Channa maculata tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for this species is 100 gallons (379 liters)

Tank set up

The blotched snakehead is a large, predatory fish and will require an aquarium of at least 100 gallons. A larger tank isn’t necessarily better, as it’s important to maintain optimal water quality. The tank should be decorated in such a way that provides many hiding places for your fish; driftwood and rockwork are recommended.

Water chemistry is important for pH stability and maintaining low levels of ammonia and nitrites. It’s vital that you research any species before attempting to keep them in order to learn how they live, where they come from, what their specific environmental needs are, and how much space they will require. It is possible to have more than one species of fish living together if those requirements can be met.

Channa maculata tank mates

Because of its aggressive nature, it is not recommended to keep a Blotched Snakehead with other fish. However, if you must attempt it, make sure you select fish that are about three times bigger than your fish and let them get adjusted to each other for about two weeks.

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Some good tank mates are Pangasius Hypophthalmus, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, Oreochromis niloticus, Ctenopharyngodon idella, and Hampala dispar. All other types of fish and any invertebrates should be avoided.

Blotched snakehead breeding

Channa Maculata

Channa maculata are very prolific in captivity and can be bred easily. Males will first become territorial around their females and will drive off any other males that enter their territory. Once a male has successfully driven away other fish in his territory, he will begin to display courtship behaviors to his females. He does so by positioning himself next to a female for 10-20 minutes at a time.

During these times he will raise his fins slightly as he pushes himself against her body several times. This action is called showing his colors and is also how one can identify when a male is courting rather than just being aggressive or defending his territory. As an additional indicator of courting, males will flare their gill covers widely in addition to displaying their colors.

If all goes well with courting rituals, pairing up between two particular fish may occur. It should be noted that if a male was unsuccessful during his attempts to court a female, it might take him 3-4 weeks before trying again.

It should also be noted that some hobbyists have had success using conditioned brine shrimp to get many male and female specimens into spawning conditions quickly while others believe conditioning causes males to become overly aggressive towards each other and could cause pairs that were starting out fine before conditioning to split apart shortly after conditioning begins.

Are blotched snakehead aggressive or peaceful?

The blotched snakehead is one of several species of snakeheads that have been known to live peacefully in groups. It is a powerful fighter and will usually be the top fish in its area, but because it is not aggressive towards other fish, it can live peacefully with them.

If there are no other dominant fish around for a long period of time, however, it will become territorial and fight for dominance. Sometimes these fights can get deadly for both parties involved if they’re not careful.

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Channa maculata care

Channa Maculata

Channa maculata are very hardy fish. They are easy to keep, especially for beginners. They are extremely tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, including low-quality water, and can handle high levels of both ammonia and nitrite. They tolerate a pH as low as 5.0 and a pH as high as 9.5 with ease; they do not need special or expensive filtration like some other aquarium species do.

Due to their tolerance of poor water quality and ability to withstand large swings in salinity, these fish can live for extended periods of time in poorly maintained aquaria that would kill many more sensitive species. Another noteworthy feature is their hardiness when it comes to temperature: Channa maculata has been known to survive freezing winters, scorching summers, and even cool waters.

Channa maculata food

They are omnivores and feed on small insects, crustaceans, fishes, amphibians, and mollusks. Cannas love worms and will go after earthworms if given a chance. An earthworm farm is one of their favorite destinations for worm digging. They consume most insect species that they come across including cockroaches and locusts.

Snails can be found in their diet as well as freshwater prawns. It’s very unlikely that any other fish would bother them since cannas are such large fish with formidable teeth. Therefore getting food isn’t much of an issue for them.

Although it seems like there isn’t much to eat, these carnivorous fish still need to look out for possible predators lurking in wait; red-tailed catfish and snakeheads should always be avoided since they could easily mistake your channa maculata as a meal which could turn your channa into a snack!

Water parameters

Channa Maculata

Ideal water should have a pH of 6.0-8.0, hardness: 5-20 dH, and temperature: 20–30°C (68–86°F).

Channa maculata is a tropical species that requires plenty of oxygenated water which makes running filters and/or under-gravel filters crucial. Other methods of filtration such as canister filters are not suitable for Channa maculata due to their inefficient biofiltration.

They require large aquariums with plenty of swimming space; as juveniles, they should be kept in groups but adults may be kept singly unless spawning is intended or desired. They will sometimes fight amongst themselves so larger numbers should only be kept if there is enough swimming space provided.

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Channa maculata lifespan

On average, Channa maculata live for about 10–15 years under optimal conditions; sometimes longer if cared for properly. Channas are very resilient fish that can outlive many of their tank mates. Proper water quality is imperative to keeping your Channa maculata healthy for a long period of time!

Parasites and diseases

Blotched snakeheads are relatively hardy fish, but they can get parasites and diseases. They’re susceptible to a protozoan disease called ich that causes white spots on their skin. Keep an eye out for any unusual behavior; blotched snakeheads rubbing or flashing against objects in their environment is a telltale sign of ich.

Infected fish should be removed from aquariums as soon as possible to keep them from spreading. Treatment involves medication designed specifically for snakeheads sold by most aquatic pet suppliers. Ich cannot be cured using regular aquarium treatment medications like those used with goldfish and other freshwater species; always check with your local pet store before purchasing any new medications.


Keeping a large number of predators in your pond is not recommended, but it may be necessary if you have a high water temperature. Predators like Northern Pike and Bass are particularly dangerous to Channa maculata because they will attack from below, where there is no way for the snakehead to defend itself. They can literally bite their way through a snakehead’s belly as they swim up to eat them.

Do Channa maculata make good pets?

Yes. The blotched snakehead fish is a species that can be kept in an aquarium and cared for easily. When you consider keeping these types of fish, you need to be aware of what is required for their care.