Physical characteristics: Striped snakeheads are about 24 inches (60 centimeters) long. There are no scales on the underside of the jaw. The scales on the body are moderately large. The fish are dark brown on the back, but the color extends into irregular blackish bands on the sides. There are no bands or spots on the pectoral fins. Young striped snakeheads have a black spot at the end of the dorsal fin.
Geographic range: Striped snakeheads are native to Southeast Asia.
Habitat: Striped snakeheads live in still to slow-running waters with a muddy bottom, such as ponds, swamps, and ditches.
Diet: Striped snakeheads eat smaller fishes, frogs, prawns, and worms.
Striped snakeheads can survive in the bottom mud of lakes, swamps, and canals that have dried up. (Ilustration by Michelle Meneghini. Reproduced by permission.)
Behavior and reproduction: Striped snakeheads can survive in the bottom mud of lakes, swamps, and canals that have dried up. They can move over land during the rainy season. Male and female striped snakeheads use their mouths and tails to clear away dense plants to make a doughnut-shaped floating nest about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in diameter, into which they place the eggs. The hatching period lasts about three days, during which the male guards the nest. After hatching, the young, still protected by the male, move in a dense school to look for food.
Striped snakeheads and people: Striped snakeheads are an important food fish.
Conservation status: Striped snakeheads are not threatened or endangered. ■
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