Great Snakehead

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Channa marulius - (Hamilton, 1822)
Great Snakehead

A fierce predator with no place in the average home aquarium.


Channa marulius juvenile.

Snakeheads are large predators that feed on all sorts of animals, including small mammals. They are able to slither out of the water for short periods, making the importation of many Channa species illegal. Note that cute juveniles will grow into fearsome predators.

Importing, selling, transporting or owning any Channa species snakehead has been illegal in the U.S. since 2003. See: Snakeheads: Invasive Aquatic Aliens.

Family: Channidae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: Quiet and deeper waters in rivers, bays, swamps and flooded forests. Associates with aquatic plants that give it cover.

Maximum length: 183 cm (72 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 2271 L (600 gal)

Water: Freshwater 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.


Carnivore. In the wild, it takes fish, amphibians, snakes, birds, and rodents. All meaty foods will be accepted.

Aquarium Compatibility

While young it may be kept with very large, rugged, species. Adults are likely to eat or attack virtually any tankmate, unless kept in a huge aquarium.

Special Care

It is prone to jumping out of tanks and its aquarium must be securely covered. Snakeheads must be able to breathe at the surface and will suffocate if kept in a bag of water with no airspace.


Sexual maturity comes at 30 cm (about 1 ft.) and around two years of age. Warm weather spawner, releasing pelagic eggs.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: MQX
Text credit: KW