Members of the genus Channa are widely distributed, occurring from Iran in the west, to China and southeastern Russia in the east, and throughout Southeast Asia, extending downward into the Philippines and Indonesia (Java being the southernmost location). Species of the genus Parachanna are restricted to central West Africa. Species are most diverse in tropical Asia. Some species are endemic to restricted areas that include special features such as tropical rainforests, such

as the walking snakehead (Channa orientalis) from southern Sri Lanka, and the orange-spotted snakehead (Channa au-rantimaculata) and rainbow snakehead (Channa bleheri) from northern Assam. Some species are now found outside their natural distributions, apparently as a result of human introduction. These include established populations of the northern snakehead (Channa argus) in Japan, the United States, and Aral Sea basin; the blotched snakehead (Channa macu-lata) in Japan; the bullseye snakehead (Channa marulius) in the United States; and the striped snakehead (Channa striata) in the islands of Indonesia east of Wallace's line, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji, Hawaii, Mauritius, and Madagascar. In Madagascar the striped snakehead has had a severely detrimental effect upon the island's endemic freshwater fish fauna.

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