Northern Snakehead Fish

northern snakehead fish

Last updated on July 6th, 2022 at 09:33 am

The northern snakehead fish is a species of freshwater fish that can be found in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Despite its name, it’s not related to any other types of snakeheads. The northern snakehead will generally eat anything that they come across including insects and small mammals. It has been seen as an invasive species because it eats many different types of native species and competes with them for food sources.

If you’re a fisherman, chances are that northern snakehead fish have been caught in your net at least once. These fish often go by the name “frankenfish,” and they’ve become a huge problem for many states in America. In this article, we’ll discuss northern snakehead fish, the problems they cause, and what can be done to prevent their spread!

Northern snakehead description

northern snakehead fish 3 - northern snakehead fish

The northern snakehead fish is native to China, Russia, and Korea. It has a long dorsal fin that stretches from its nose all the way down to the tail in which it uses for propulsion through the water. The average length of this species can reach up to one meter or roughly three feet with lengths between fifteen inches and thirty inches being more common.

They have an elongated body with a cylindrical cross-section which makes them very streamlined and aerodynamic. Their eyes are located on the top of their head allowing for great vision to spot prey above the water’s surface while keeping most of their bodies submerged underwater. This species can be identified by its long dorsal fin, largemouth, thick scales, and color.

The northern snakehead is an aggressive predator that feeds on other fish, amphibians and invertebrates. They are capable of swallowing prey up to one-third their own size whole due to their largemouth. This species has sharp teeth which they use to grip onto their prey before pulling them into their powerful jaws. The northern snakehead is a solitary fish that prefers to live in murky, shallow water where it can ambush prey.

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Species profile

northern snakehead fish 4 - northern snakehead fish

The northern snakehead is a fish that can be found in freshwater habitats in North America. It is an invasive species in some areas and has been known to cause problems for native fish populations. This fish can reach up to three feet in length and has a long body with a flattened head.

Scientific name

The scientific name for the northern snakehead fish is Channa argus

Color and appearance

The northern snakehead fish is a silver-gray color with darker cross bands and has an anal fin that runs the entire length of its body. It also has small eyes located high on its head, as well as two rows of large teeth.

Many people are concerned about this species because it can cause problems for native fish populations and ecosystems.

Northern snakehead habitat

They are capable of living in a wide variety of habitats, from slow-moving rivers and ponds to brackish water near the coast. This adaptability has helped them spread throughout much of North America.

The northern snakehead fish can be found in freshwater habitats in a number of states in North America, including California, Texas, and New York. It prefers slow-moving or still water, and can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures.

This fish is native to China but has been introduced into other areas around the world. In some cases, it has become an invasive species and caused problems for the local ecosystem.


northern snakehead fish

Northern snakehead fish can grow up to three feet long, making them one of the larger species of snakeheads.

Tank size

Due to their size, Northern snakehead fish need plenty of space to swim and explore. A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is required, with larger tanks being preferable. Make sure to provide ample hiding places in the tank as northern snakeheads are easily stressed when not provided with hiding spaces.

Make sure to keep in mind that Northern snakeheads can grow up three feet long, so it is important to ensure there will be enough space for the fish’s entire life cycle.

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Life cycle

Northern snakehead fish breed in the late summer and early fall. The female will lay her eggs on submerged vegetation, after which the male will fertilize them. The eggs will hatch within a few days and the fry will be independent soon afterward.

The Northern snakehead is capable of living up to 15 years in captivity if given proper care.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Northern snakeheads fish are very territorial and will defend their area from other fish. They can be aggressive towards other species, especially in the presence of a smaller school of fish that could serve as food for them.

Northern snakehead fish care

northern snakehead fish

The northern snakehead fish is a popular aquarium fish that can be found in pet stores. They are easy to care for and make a great addition to any tank. Here are some tips on how to care for these interesting fish:

What do northern snakeheads eat

Northern snakehead fish are omnivorous and will eat a variety of things. They will typically eat live or frozen food, but can also be fed pellets, flakes, or other prepared foods.

Make sure to give your fish a varied diet to ensure they stay healthy. If they don’t get the right nutrients, they can become malnourished or even die.

The best way to make sure your snakeheads are getting the right food is to feed them a variety of live and frozen foods. This will give them the chance to eat something different every day, and ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

Tank mates

Northern snakeheads fish are territorial, and should not be kept with other fish. They will eat any type of small fish, including their tank mates.

When choosing tank mates for your northern snakehead fish, keep in mind that they can grow up to be very big! quite a bit larger than most tropical or freshwater aquarium fish. It is best to keep your snakeheads alone, or with other large fish that can’t fit in their mouths.

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You should never mix species of fish when you have a single tank for them all. Different types of fish will require different care and environments, which may lead to conflict between the species if they are together instead of separate.

Water conditions

northern snakehead fish

Northern snakehead fish can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but they prefer warmer water. The ideal temperature range is 75-86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure to keep the water quality high in your tank by doing regular water changes. This will help keep your fish healthy and happy.

If you’re having trouble keeping the water quality high in your tank, you may need to invest in a water filtration system. A good filter can help keep the water clean and ensure that there is always enough oxygen for your fish.


Northern snakehead fish can be bred in captivity, but it is not an easy process. The eggs must be fertilized externally, and the fry must be raised in a separate tank.

If you’re interested in breeding northern snakehead fish, there are a few things you need to know. First, the parents will eat their own young if given the chance. This means you need to move your northern snakeheads into a different tank as soon as they spawn, and take them out again after the fry are able to survive on their own.

The second thing you need to know is that breeding northern snakehead fish requires patience! It can take up to two years for the young fish to mature, so you’ll need to have a lot of time on your hands if you want to breed them.

Northern snakehead fish are easy to care for as long as their tank requirements are met. Keep in mind that they can grow up to be big, so make sure the rest of the inhabitants won’t be eaten by mistake!


Northern snakehead fish have a lifespan of about 20 years but can live up to 30 if they are well cared for.

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Parasites and diseases

Snakeheads are known to be hosts to a variety of parasites and diseases. These can include:

  • Trematodes, or flukes, are parasitic flatworms that infest the snakehead’s gut
  • Parasitic copepods, tiny crustaceans that attach themselves to the fish’s skin
  • Monogenea, small parasitic flukes that infest the gills
  • Myxozoan organisms, which are tiny jellyfish-like creatures that attack the fish’s muscles and skin

There is evidence suggesting snakeheads to be carriers of a disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). There have been reports in other parts of the world of this disease-causing mass mortality in fish populations, and it is feared that it could have a similar impact on snakehead populations if it were to spread to the United States.


In their native range, snakeheads have a wide variety of predators, including birds, mammals, and other fish. These predators help to keep the snakehead populations in check.

In North America, however, there are few natural predators of snakeheads and they are able to reproduce rapidly, resulting in large population sizes. As a result, it is believed that they pose a significant risk to native fish populations.

Does it make good pets?

The northern snakehead fish is said to be an aggressive and territorial fish. It’s not suitable for the average freshwater aquarium as it grows very large, up to three feet long! They can also eat other fishes that are much smaller than themselves so they need a lot of space and high water quality in order to thrive.


The northern snakehead fish is not a good choice for a pet fish, unless you have an extremely large aquarium and are prepared to provide high water quality. Even then, it may be best to leave these aggressive fish in the wild.