Channa Striata (Striped Snakehead)

channa striata

Last updated on July 8th, 2022 at 10:44 pm

The striped snakehead, or channa striata, is an invasive species of fish that was introduced to American water systems in the early 1990s via the aquarium trade. Native to India and Pakistan, this fish has several distinguishing characteristics from other species of snakeheads and can grow up to 40 inches long!

Are there an invasive species in your local waterways? If you live in an area with bodies of water, chances are good that at some point you’ve seen the Channa Striata (also known as the Striped Snakehead or Indian Swamp Eel). This invasive fish has populations on every continent except Antarctica, where it is illegal to own them, and can cause considerable harm to other species if it isn’t controlled.

The channa striata (also known as the striped snakehead, murrel fish, Snakehead murrel, or Indian swamp eel) is an aquatic fish with its origin in the swamps of India and Bangladesh, but has since spread to the black and Caspian seas, where it has become something of an invasive species due to its ability to inhabit both fresh and saltwater, and its voracious appetite for other fish and small mammals.

Here’s what you need to know about the striped snakehead if you see one in your local freshwater system

Origin and descriptions

channa striata

The channa striata, or murrel fish, can be commonly found in Asia, Australia, and most parts of Africa. It is usually a freshwater fish that prefers rivers with lots of vegetation as well as slow-moving waters. The average channa striata can grow to be around 10 pounds, but there have been reports of them growing even larger than that!

Most channa striatas are black or dark brown in color with lighter striping along their sides and undersides. However, some of these fishes do not have any visible stripes on them at all. As you may be able to tell from its name, it looks very similar to another species called the Indian swamp eel which has many different variations within its own group as well.

This species does not actually belong in either group! However, these two species have historically had a lot of confusion surrounding their identification due to being easily mistaken for one another.

The Channa striata, or Snakehead murrel, are considered one of the most destructive freshwater fish in existence. First introduced to Florida in 2002, these voracious predators can grow up to four feet long and weigh over 20 pounds. They have been known to attack other fish in their native range with such ferocity that they can easily kill 10 times their own weight!

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Their introduction has caused irreversible damage to both local ecosystems and local economies; out-competing other fish for food and feeding on crops grown by farmers who depend on them for food or livelihoods. If you see a snakehead in Florida or any other part of North America, do not attempt to remove it yourself but contact your nearest wildlife control professional immediately.

Species profile

channa striata

The striped snakeheads are from the Channidae family, belong to Class Actinopterygii, or ray-finned fish, and are part of order Perciformes. The species was first described by S. Muller in 1794, who named it Siganus striatus after its lateral stripes.

The channa striata or striped snakehead, sometimes called Indian swamp eel, is a species of fish native to South Asia. This fish has sharp teeth, which it uses to attack its prey. It can be found in many lakes and slow-moving rivers and streams where there are plenty of snails, frogs, and insect larvae.

The channa striata originated in South and Southeast Asia. They are currently found in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The stripes on their bodies help them blend into a background of aquatic plants to hide from predators. The fish come together in large groups during the breeding season and have been known to leap out of water up to three feet high while trying to attract a mate!

In addition to being used as food, these fish are also farmed for sale in markets. They are typically sold whole with their heads attached; they look very similar to catfish. They have been introduced into freshwater ecosystems around Europe and North America; here they pose a threat to local wildlife, because they tend to outcompete other species for resources like food and shelter.

Snakehead murrel habitat

The native range of Channa striata extends throughout South and Southeast Asia, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and southern China. They have been introduced to many other parts of Asia as well as Africa and Australia. It has also become an invasive species in California lakes due to human actions.

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Their preferred habitat consists of slow-moving bodies of water, such as marshes and swamps; they are capable of tolerating freshwater or saltwater environments. They are able to survive in a variety of oxygen levels, ranging from no oxygen (anoxic) conditions to brackish waters with varying levels between these extremes.

This ability allows them to thrive during droughts when their habitat dries up—they simply burrow into the sediment at the bottom and wait for rains that return their home waters back to life!

Channa striata size

This species can grow to an average length of 33 – 39 inches (85 – 100 cm).

Channa striata tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 150 gallons (568 Liters)

Tank set up

There are a few different ways to set up a tank for snakeheads. Some keep them in large outdoor ponds, while others prefer to keep them in indoor aquariums or outdoor ponds that have plastic walls surrounding them. Whichever type of setup you choose, be sure that it can support at least 100 pounds of fish.

Their voracious appetites and fast growth rates will require plenty of space and food for your snakeheads to thrive. If you want to try keeping more than one snakehead together, be aware that they are aggressive towards each other. They’re also territorial so if there aren’t enough hiding places for all of them in your tank, they’ll likely nip at each other during feeding time.

Channa striata breeding

channa striata

Snakeheads are oviparous fishes. This means that they lay eggs that will hatch out young snakeheads instead of giving birth to live young.

Unlike most other fishes, these fish can also live for a long time out of water for up to an hour which allows them to travel longer distances over land and survive dry spells in their natural habitat. All of these traits make it so that it is possible to breed Channa striata in captivity if you have enough knowledge on how to do so correctly.

When breeding them, you should have some sand at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH balance between 6 and 8 as well as plenty of oxygen and low nitrates added into your tank along with high carbon dioxide levels at about 6 parts per million.

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If you want higher success rates when breeding them, then you should add larger females who have laid more eggs before than smaller ones. In addition to all of these factors, there need to be certain numbers of males present in order for fertilization to take place.

Are Channa striata aggressive or peaceful?

It can be a little bit of both. While they aren’t generally considered to be quite aggressive, these fish will bite at anything that comes too close to them.

They are even more aggressive when it comes to mating season. These fish have been known to attack people that stand in their way or are close by.

They have teeth and can certainly cause harm. In addition, if you don’t feed them regularly, they may turn on one another—again, something that may result in bites.

Channa striata care

channa striata

The channa striata is a freshwater fish that comes from India. It’s pretty large, growing up to about 4 feet long and weighing in at approximately 60 pounds.

They prefer to stay in freshwater areas that are stagnant or slow-moving, and it has no natural predators because of its impressive teeth. If you ever find yourself near one of these fish—which are known for their aggression—take care not to be bitten by them.

Channa striata food

The striped snakehead fish are carnivorous, meaning they eat other animals for nourishment, they can also eat plant matters. This makes them omnivores, or animals that eat both plants and animals for sustenance. The striped snakeheads primarily eat smaller fish when they’re young and freshwater crustaceans when they become adults. They also have some control over their eating habits—they will not feed on vegetation found in highly polluted water.

Water parameters

channa striata

Channa striata lives in a muddy river, lake, or pond water with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature of 60-74 degrees Fahrenheit. While it will tolerate less-than-ideal water conditions, keep these fish in at least moderately hard, clean water with good circulation to ensure optimal health.

Keep your fish away from large predators; it will be eaten by almost anything larger than it! Because it grows so quickly, you’ll want to make sure your tank has plenty of extra room for growth. At maturity, some species can reach about three feet long.

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Channa striata lifespan

The average lifespan of a striped snakehead is approximately 10–15 years, but in captivity, they can live up to 20 years.

Parasites and diseases

Naturally, this is a fish that has to contend with plenty of parasites and diseases. It will come down with a condition known as lateral line erosion if it gets exposed to freshwater for too long without any marine salt in its system. It can also get internal parasites like flukes and tapeworms, external parasites like copepods, fungal infections, and bacterial infections, really there’s very little that can’t go wrong here.

The good news is these issues are generally manageable by your pet store’s staff – they may just need some direction on how to properly take care of these fish. Some eels are even starting to suffer from something called mycosis fungoides, or fungus disease; these guys have trouble swimming due to their swollen muscles and impaired sense of direction.


Humans have been known to eat this fish. Other predators include larger fish and birds, such as mallard ducks and other game birds. Both of these animals make good use of their beaks, which are adapted for pecking at prey, as well as having mouth regions capable of tearing meat apart into small pieces that can be swallowed easily; once torn apart, prey animals can then be swallowed whole in many cases.

Do Channa striata make good pets?

No, striped snakeheads do not make good pets. In fact, they are illegal to own in many states and are banned from being imported into several countries including Australia, Japan, Italy, and Switzerland.

These fish have earned a reputation for being hard to keep in captivity; those who have succeeded in keeping them alive report that it can be a stressful experience because of their aggressive personalities and territorial nature. Some have even reported getting bitten!