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A lot of unusual in one fish! It's only one of three fish lacking pelvic
fins (the others are hagfish and lamprey,) it's a carnivore considered
peaceful enough for some community aquariums, it has to breathe through
both it's gills and labyrinth organ in order to avoid drowning, it's
small body is a riot of exotic colors and it's broad head is covered
with scales reminiscent of a snake.
Listed tank sizes are the minimum
||5.31 inches (13.5 cm)
||Individual: 65 gallons (246.1 liters) or larger
Pairs: 100 gallons (378.54 liters) or larger. Long, rectangular
tanks are recommended.
|| Top to mostly bottom.
|| Medium, dH: 5.0-10.0
||73 - 79°F (23 – 26°C)
ASIA: India. Brahmaputra River basin, Dibrugarh, Assam. Native to
the hill streams, ponds, swamps and tropical rainforest streams.
General Body Form:
Muscular, cigar-shaped body with a snake-like broad, flattened head.
Long, elegant, continuous dorsal and anal fins. Caudal and pectoral
fins are wide, rounded, and scallop-shaped. Scales on their heads
look like those of a snake's, giving this fish its name.
The base color of the body and head vary greatly and include deep
olives, red-ocher, and turquoise. A fine, cryptic net of brown-orange
scales disrupt the shape of the body. Pectoral and caudal fins display
vivid orange and black tiger markings. Dorsal and anal fins are turquoise
proximally and red-ocher or dark brown along their distal edges. The
dorsal fin is also marked with anterior-leaning, diagonal red-ocher/dark
brown bars and often an eye-spot on the posterior of the fin. Multiple
depths of iridescence create considerable flash and dimension over
this fish. Coloring and patterns are much more intense in juveniles
and continue to evolve over a lifetime, including a bright yellow
to red-orange stripe running the length of its body.
Moderate to Advanced
Very clean, highly-filtered water of neutral pH. Native waters typically
have a steady influx of freshwater. Regular, large water changes can
reproduce this in the home aquarium.
Carnivorus: Voracious eaters of live and frozen foods: bloodworms,
krill, lance fish, mussel, prawn, tubifex worms, whitebait, and white
midge larvae. Can gradually learn to accept calamari, chunks of fish,
shrimp, and mussels for human consumption. Non-aquatic foods they
may accept include: crickets and earthworms. While unlikely that they
will eat dry foods, some aquarists have been able to gradually introduce
sinking meaty fish pellets/trout chow as part of a varied diet. Younger
snakeheads enjoy bloodworms and krill. Feed once daily.
Provide a larger aquarium with low-current, gravel substrate and several
hiding places in the form of driftwood, caves and plants. Much of
their time is spent mid-water or hiding in ambush for prey. Floating
plants help diffuse light. Uniquely, this fish breathes not only through
its gills, but also through chambers above the gills that are lined
with a form of skin that can absorb atmospheric oxygen. Leave several
inches of air space at the top of the tank as they will suffocate
if they cannot access surface air. A well-secured cover is advised
as they're capable of escaping when they swim in quick bursts.
Aggressive: Best for the species-only aquarium as it feeds on other
fish. Pairs may be kept in aquariums that are at least 100 gallons
(378.54 liters.) In large aquariums with several hiding places small
groups may be kept in a 1 to 1 ratio. Even then there may be some
aggression. It can be a community fish with careful consideration.
Despite being predators, snakeheads are timid and a balance must be
struck between finding relatively fast-swimming, similarly-sized tankmates
and those that will neither harass nor predate them. Successful communities
have been built with larger barbs and botias, smaller bichirs, bushfish,
datanoides, larger loricariids and synodontis catfish.
Tropical rainforest streams, ponds and swamps.
Difficult. Sexual dimorphism: Males are larger and more colorful, females
are fuller-bodied when in breeding condition. There are few details
about reliably spawning this fish in captivity. They are bubble-nesters
that need to be conditioned and rested over the winter, then acclimatized
to the changing seasons in their native Indian habitat. The couple rub
against to spawn. When the eggs are released, both parents tuck them
away within a bubble nest then care for the fry when they hatch within
24 to 48 hours. It's critical that the fry remain with the parents as
they are feed feeder eggs and mucus excreted from the parents' heads.
In roughly 2 weeks the fry are free-swimmers and can move on to eating
brine shrimp nauplii.