Channa bankanensis

{pronunciation} bank-an-en-sis

Common name:

'sirko muda' (S.E Sumatra)

First description:

Bleeker, P. 1852
Ophiocephalus bankanensis
N. bijdr. ichth. Banka. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift Voor Nederlandsch Indie Vol.III.; p.726.


Distinguished by its roundish, blunt head.
There are also 8-9 rows of scales between the eye and the lower edge of opercle.


D: 39-42 A: 29-31 C: 10-12 V: present Ratio: 3.4

Lateral line scale count:



The colouration of the dorsal and anal fins is light but they darken towards the upper margin of fin. The caudal is violet. All vertical unpaired fins show rows of black spots, this pattern becoming oblique in the paired pectorals.

The, laterally viewed, pigmentation of the body is a reddish-violet, merging to a cream colour in the lower quarters. Imprinted on the middle torso is a row of blotches, consisting of a group of black spots along the sides, sometimes producing a band. A similar blotch can be found on the caudal opercle, while on the underside of body are smaller spots. A band (consisting of black spots) runs from the eye downwards to the lower opercle.

The upper part of head has scattered black spots. On the underside are smaller spots.

Juvenile differences in colouration:

The blotches are smaller, being arranged in two alternating rows in the rear of body; one above, one below the lateral line. The fins are much darker, the pectorals being black with irregular white dots and stripes.

(Weber & de Beaufort (1922)) examined young specimens in alcohol which also showed 3 dark oblique streaks behind the eye and a lateral band consisting of separate dark patches, bordered with yellow.


Largest specimen 235 mm.


Ophiocephalus bankanensis

Geographical location:

The range of Channa bankanensis is within the country of Indonesia in the Indo-Australian Archipelago. In the Lebaks and other inland waters of southern Sumatra, 'sirko muda' can be found. Bleeker (1879) described this fish from Banjarmasin in southern Borneo and the Island of Bangka, just off the South/east coast of Sumatra.
De Beaufort (1939) gives an account of their locality just 100 Km east, on the island of Billiton. Ng and Lin (1990) found this species for the first time in Peninsular Malaysia in peat-swamp forest in Selangor in water at pH 2.8-2.9.


Although nothing is known of its correct maintenance in the aquarium we do know the conditions of one area of its habitat in Sumatra, where it is occasionally cultured as a food fish. The lebaks have varying water conditions with a pH 4.0-7.4, a colour between brown and grey and sometimes a temperature of up to 37 C. 'Sirko-muda', as it is known locally, has a diet of fish, shrimp and water insect larvae.


Several of the lebaks share their fish cultivation with rice growing, and others have a rich growth of plants (mainly in the stagnant, neutral pH areas). This creates valuable breeding grounds for the Snakeheads, particulary in the warm summers when the water level drops in many cases to 0.5 m. This shallow water is particulary important in rearing the young fry and culturing the rotifers on which they will feed.