Striped snakehead: Channa striata
Striped snakehead: Channa striata

Systematic position (Nelson 2006)
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perches)
Suborder: Channoidei (Ophiocephaliformes)
Family: Channidae (Snakeheads)
Genus: Channa
Species: C. striata

Common/local names
English: Striped snakehead, Banded snakehead and Snakehead murrel
Bangladesh: Shol (শোল)
India: Haal and Shawl (Assam); Shol (West Bengal); Morrul, Morl and Soura (Bihar); Sowl, Dhoali and Carrodh (Punjab); Dolla (Jammu); Sola (Orissa); Korramennu, Korra-matta (Andhra Pradesh); Sowrah, Veralu and Kaunan (Kerala); Pooli-kuchi and Koonchinamarl (Karnataka); and Sohr and Dekhu (Maharashtra) (Talwar and Jhingran 1991).

Channa striatus (Bloch, 1793)
Ophicephalus planiceps Cuvier, 1831
Ophicephalus striatus Bloch, 1793 (misspelled name, must not be used)
Ophiocephalus chena Hamilton, 1822
Ophiocephalus philippinus Peters, 1868
Ophiocephalus planiceps Cuvier, 1831
Ophiocephalus striatus Bloch, 1793 (misspelled name, must not be used)
Ophiocephalus vagus Peters, 1868
Ophiocephalus wrahl Lacepède, 1801

Distributions: Bangladesh, India, Malay archipelago, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, south China and Thailand (Talwar and Jhingran 1991).

Conservation status: Not threatened in Bangladesh (IUCN Bangladesh 2000).

Morphology: Body elongate, cylindrical with depressed head. Eyes moderate and its diameter 6-7 times in HL (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). Caudal rounded. Large scales on head. 50-60 (Bhuiyan 1964); 54-60 (Rahman 1989 and 2005); 50-57 (Talwar and Jhingran 1991) scales in lateral series.

Body color gray-green to black-green above; pale or yellow on sides and white below. Dorsal and anal fins are darker in color and with dark patches. Caudal also dark and with two vertical bands on its base. Paired fins are pale.

Fin formula:
D. 35-45; A. 22-28; V. 5 (Bhuiyan 1964)
D. 42-46; P1. 15-17; P2. 6; A. 24-27 (Rahman 1989 and 2005)
D 37-46; A 23-29; P 15-17; V 6 (Talwar and Jhingran 1991)
D. 37-45; A. 23-26 (Shafi and Quddus 2001)

Maximum lengths: 20 cm (Bhuiyan 1964), over 90 cm (Rahman 1989 and 2005) and 75 cm (Talwar and Jhingran 1991) and 90 cm (Shafi and Quddus 2001).

Habitats: Inhibits freshwater ponds, streams and tanks of plains; prefers stagnant muddy water and grassy tanks (Talwar and Jhingran 1991).  Muddy, weedy and shallow streams, rivers, revulets, depressions, beels and ditches are its suitable habitats (Bhuiyan 1964). Can tolerate slightly brackish waters (Talwar and Jhingran 1991).

Recorded from the Bookbhara baor in Jessore (Mohsin et al 2009), Choto Jamuna River (Galib et al 2013), Halti Beel of Natore (Imteazzaman and Galib 2013), Chalan beel (Galib et al 2009), Saldu Beel of Tangail (Saha and Hossain 2002) and Shakla Beel of Brahmanbaria (Ahmed et al 2004).

Food and feeding: Carnivore and predatory; feeds on small fishes, frogs, snakes, insects, earthworms and tadepoles (Rahman 1989 and 2005).

Spawning: Breeds almost throughout the year (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). Breeds in flooded jute and paddy fields at the beginning of rainy season and guard the nest and fries (Bhuiyan 1964). Female mature at 2 years of age (30 cm) and lays few hundred to over thousand amber-colored eggs (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). Eggs are floating (Bhuiyan 1964) and 1.25-1.5 mm in diameter (Shafi and Quddus 2001). Shows strong parental care (Bhuiyan 1964).

Accessory respiration: It has the accessory respiratory organ which is commonly known as accessory bronchial chamber (Hasan and Mohsin 2011). If skin and breathing apparatus remain moist, it can survive for a number of months without water (Rahman 1989 and 2005).

Diseases: During winter and dry seasons, coelomic cavity is infested heavily by a larval trematode, Isoparorchis hypsilobargi; intestine infected by Pallisentis ophicephali and pyloric caecae by Neocamallanus ophicephali (Rahman 1989 and 2005).

Fishery info: Of commercial significance (Rahman 1989 and 2005). Used as food fish in Bangladesh. Good sport fish and takes bait rapidly. Flesh firm, white, practically boneless and of good flavor (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). Aquaculture species in India and Pakistan (Talwar and Jhingran 1991).



Bloch ME (1793) Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische. Berlin. Naturgeschichte der Ausländischen Fische. 7: i-xiv + 1-144, Pls. 325-360.

Cuvier G and Valenciennes A (1831) Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome septième. Livre septième. Des Squamipennes. Livre huitième. Des poissons à pharyngiens labyrinthiformes. Histoire naturelle des poissons. 7: i-xxix + 1-531, Pls. 170-208.

Hamilton F (1822) An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches. Edinburgh & London. An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches.: i-vii + 1-405, Pls. 1-39.

Lacepède BGE (1801) Histoire naturelle des poissons. Histoire naturelle des poissons. 3: i-lxvi + 1-558, Pls. 1-34.

Peters W (CH) (1868) Über die von Hrn. Dr. F. Jagor in dem ostindischen Archipel gesammelten und dem Königl. zoologischen Museum übergebenen Fische. Monatsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Berlin 1868: 254-281.


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Striped snakehead, Channa striata (Bloch, 1793)

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Shams Galib

Shams works in freshwater ecosystems, primarily on fish diversity in terms of their availability, and richness; he is also interested in aquatic invasive species and their impacts on ecosystem. Email: More...

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