Snakehead Murrel (Channa striata)

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

An exotic and potentially invasive predator, found often in channelized rivers and large lowland pools in Hong Kong. They are generally uncommon, but can be found in great abundance, especially in large watercourses around the Northern District.

Identification:

A huge snakehead with a sub-cylindrical and greyish body and whitish abdomen. Its caudal fin rounded and scales are relatively large. The fish can be distinguished from other Channa species by the possession of a blotch on posterior end of the dorsal fin and mottled pale saddles on dorsal side of the body (AFCD).

Habitat: Like most Snakeheads, C. striata tends to prefer waterbodies of low to no flow. This includes, ponds, pools and northern district channelized watercourses. Due to their size, they generally do not occur in hillstreams or low land streams.

Fingerling (left), Hatchling's (right)


Distribution:

AFCD: Uncommon in the wild and is an introduced species. Records from a few streams in North District and on Lantau Island.

Personal experience: Although uncommon due to their restriction towards the Northern District, they generally occur in high abundance. They prefer stagnant water and are voracious predators. I have witnessed some leaping out of the water to catch insects.


Conservation concern:

Personal Note: This species is often seen in Hong Kong wet markets and fish farms. It's unknown whether the population in Hong Kong are escapes or releases.


Useful links:

AFCD

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© 2019 by Jeffery Chan