Fun Small Snakehead Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Small Snakehead Facts For Kids

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The Channa asiatica, small snakehead, is an invasive aquatic snakehead fish species native to parts of Asia and Africa. This fish gets its name from the long and cylindrical body and large scales on its body, giving them the snake's look. The northern snakehead has also introduced and established its population in places like the United States and has disrupted the natural aquatic feeding structure in the ecosystem. In the United States, there are four other species of Channa asiatica: Channa argus (northern snakehead), Channa micropeltes (giant snakehead), Channa marulius (bullseye snakehead), and Channa maculate (blotched snakehead). This fish is also amphibious in nature and can breathe both underwater and on the land.

For more relatable content, check out these rockfish facts and monkfish facts for kids.

Fun Small Snakehead Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Fish, crustaceans, small amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

50,000 eggs per year

How much do they weigh?

19 lb (8.6 kg)

How long are they?

3 ft (91.4 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Dark brown with large black blotches

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Bigger And Predatory Fishes

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Ponds, Rivers, Wetlands, Freshwater Streams, Land


Parts Of Asia And Africa









Small Snakehead Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a small snakehead?

The small snakehead fish, Channa asiatica, is one of the four goatfish snakehead species of the genus Channa native to China.

What class of animal does a small snakehead belong to?

Snakehead channa belongs to the fish class of the family Channidae.

How many small snakeheads are there in the world?

Snakehead Channa reproduces very fast, making their population stable in the world. According to a study done in 2019, the population range for the fish species is from 22,000-51,000 in its native range only. Since the snakehead Channa is an invasive species, their introduced population range counts around 28,600-115,000.

Where does a small snakehead live?

The family of snakehead Channa is native to parts of Asia and Africa. The fish species is native to China, North Korea, South Korea, south Siberia, and Russia. Due to their invasive nature, they can now also be found in the United States, Central Asia, East Europe, and Japan.

What is a small snakehead's habitat?

Northern snakeheads are aquatic fishes found in freshwater streams, rivers, wetlands, or ponds. This fish species can also survive cold winter or a very low oxygen environment. They are also capable of breathing atmospheric oxygen. They can change their habitats to a better preferable one by moving out of the water to land to find a better aquatic system for them. That is also why their preferred habitats are ones with slow-moving or stagnant water.

Who do small snakeheads live with?

Northern snakehead Channa prefers to live and hunt in groups called schools. In a closed environment, they can be kept with large species of catfish or peaceful cichlids. It is not advisable to keep smaller fish species with them.

How long does a small snakehead live?

In their wild habitat, snakeheads can live for at least eight years of age. Channa argus also has a special chamber adjacent to its gills, called the suprabranchial organ, that helps them breathe in air in low oxygen areas to help them survive outside of water for up to four days.

How do they reproduce?

Snakehead Channa reach their sexual maturity at the age of one to three years and reproduce through the process of spawning. These fish breed in the summer season from April to August spawn up to five times laying about 50,000 orange-yellow buoyant eggs per year. However, their reproductive cycle has no specific details since their nesting behaviors differ from their native range to their introduced habitat. The northern snakehead fish are known to spawn in shallow waters with macrophyte cover, where they build their nests by first clearing the area and weaving aquatic vegetation into a column to hold and protect the eggs. These floating nests are made using bits of vegetation also to protect their eggs. Snakeheads are known to defend their young ones for several weeks and can attack people if they come closer. Snakehead fish parents stay with their young ones for up to four weeks.

What is their conservation status?

Small snakeheads are abundantly found in their native range and their introduced habitats, thus making their population very wide in the world. Therefore it is listed as Least Concern species by the IUCN.

Small Snakehead Fun Facts

What do small snakeheads look like?

Snakehead fish have long, cylindrical bodies and large scales on their head, giving them the look of a snake. These fish can grow longer in their native range than in their introduced areas. They also have sharp, dagger-like teeth and canine teeth in their lower jaw. They have a strong anal fin and a very long dorsal fin, almost as long as their body. These fins help them to swim fast in the river and other water bodies. The small snakehead fish also have golden tan to pale brown scales on their body with distinctive splotches along their flank.

 The dwarf snakehead from West Bengal

*Please note that this is an image of a Dwarf Snakehead, not a  Small Snakehead specifically. If you have an image of a Small Snakehead, then please let us know at [email protected].

How cute are they?

The genus Channa fishes have scales that make their heads look like snakes, making them beautiful creatures. They have their own kind of cuteness, one that is very beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

How do they communicate?

Northern snakeheads produce a small array of noises to communicate with each other. They also make grunting noises while feeding and clicking noises when they come to the surface to breathe air.

How big is a small snakehead?

A small snakehead is 3 ft (91.4 cm) long, about 12 times the body length of Siamese fighting fish.

How fast can a small snakehead swim?

Thanks to the big and strong dorsal and anal fins, these fish are very speedy swimmers. However, it has been noticed that they are also quite clumsy swimmers. They bend their body back and forth in a sinuous, serpentine motion, but not exactly like a snake. And as they swim, they can cover half a foot per second which is 0.3 mph (0.5 kph) speed. Their fast swimming skills help them to travel faster, helping further their invasive nature.

How much does a small snakehead weigh?

A small snakehead can weigh up to 19 lb (8.6 kg), which is twice as light as the lungfish that lives under the same water and land conditions as the snakeheads.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The snakehead female and male fish are not given any separate specific names. However, you can identify them by looking at them, as the female snakeheads tend to have smaller bodies than male snakeheads.

What would you call a baby small snakehead?

The baby snakehead fish, like all other baby fishes, is called a fry. The baby snakehead is generally gold-tinted brown to pale in color and changes to dark brown with large black blotches as they mature. They also get more and more aggressive as they grow older.

What do they eat?

Snakeheads are very aggressive and invasive species that compete with native species for food and habitat. While juvenile snakeheads like zooplankton, insect larvae, small crustaceans, and the fry of other fishes as their food, the adults like to feed on other fishes, crustaceans, small amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Adult snakeheads can at times even eat a bigger fish as their food.

Are they poisonous?

The snakehead fish is not poisonous and is eaten in many places where it's either native to or introduced. The snakehead has a mild and bitter taste, which according to some taste testers, complements the beer batter and the tarter sauce. Even though this fish is portrayed in movies like Snakehead Terror and Frankenfish as beasts with big canines capable of causing havoc, they do not bite swimmers or harm humans unnecessarily.

Would they make a good pet?

If given the right condition, tankmates, and feeding, the small snakehead fish species in aquarium can turn out to be great pets. Even though the fish is considered an exotic pet and is banned in at least 17 states in the United States, small snakehead for aquarium can be an easy pet since they are not demanding of any tank decor and are usually shy around humans as opposed to their aggressive nature. They can even tolerate a wide range of water conditions but would only survive for at least 72 hours if the water conditions change drastically. They usually come out of the water to breathe air when active and not feeding, so it is required not to fill the tank to its top and leave enough room for air, or else the fish would drown. The northern snakehead is also capable of knocking things in the tank and stirring up the substrate. For this reason, it is advisable to have gravel as a substrate choice instead of fine sand. For feeding the northern snakehead, meaty foods such as chunks of fish, mussels, shrimps, and sinking meaty pellets can be used. Under the two snakehead genera: Channa and Parchana, further containing 31 Channa and three Parchanna species, many species have been a good choice for the aquarium trade, e.g., the species from India, Channa sp. 'lal cheng' and Channa sp. 'Kerala five strip.'

Did you know...

It is believed that the northern snakefish were introduced in the United States when the local aquarium owners discarded their exotic captives into the local waterways. It might have also been released unintentionally into the waterways to create a local food source for the fishermen. Nothern snakefish can live underwater, reproduce quickly, and then spread into different locations, searching for food and better living conditions. They are also responsible for disturbing the ecosystem in their introduced habitats due to their aggressive and invasive nature.

Why is it called a small snakehead?

The small snakehead fish gets its name from its long cylindrical body with large golden scales on its head that resemble the snakes.

What is the smallest species of snakehead?

The smallest species of snakehead belongs to the group of dwarf snakehead fish and are less than 6 in (15 cm) in length.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these brook trout interesting facts and American shad surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable small snakehead coloring pages.

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