Rainbow Snakehead

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Channa bleheri - Vierke, 1991
Rainbow Snakehead

Channa bleheri juveniles.jpg

An attractive, dwarf snakehead species. JJPhoto.dk


This is one of the few snakeheads appropriate for home aquarium keeping. Unlike many other species in its genus, this snakehead matures at a manageable size of about 8 inches (20 cm). It broods its young in a nest, while most other Channa species are known mouthbrooders.

NOTE: The importation, sale, and possession of all snakeheads has been banned in the United States since 2003. See: Snakeheads: Invasive Aquatic Aliens.

A similar snakehead is sometimes sold as the "Rainbow Snakehead (Blue)" or Channa sp. "blue." It may, in fact, be a different species.

Family: Channidae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: Found in the wild in rainforest streams, ponds, swamps, flooded forests.

Maximum length: 20 cm (8 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 209 L (55 gal)

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

General swimming level: Bottom to midwater.


Carnivore. Will eat meaty foods, including smaller fishes.

Aquarium Compatibility

Will eat fishes smaller than itself, and is not to trusted with ornamental shrimps. May be kept with large barbs or Botia species, but enthusiasts usually give them a species tank of their own.

Special Care

Must be able to breath at the surface and will suffocate if keep in bagful of water without airspace.


Will spawn in the aquarium, reportedly releasing floating eggs that are guarded by both parents. Fry nibble at mucus secreted on the heads of their parents. Condition for breeding with bloodworms and other high-quality meaty fare.


Named in honor of ichthyologist Heiko Bleher. See Heiko Bleher Arrested for Fish Smuggling.

Image credit: JJ
Text credit: JL