Common name: Red Snakehead, ikan toman (Borneo); toman (Sumatra);
pla sa-do (Thailand); Ca Bong (Vietnam); Trie Chhdor ( Kampuchea)
First description: Cuvier, G. & Valenciennes, A. 1831
Histoire Naturelle Poissons. Vol.VII.; pp.427.
Meristic: D: 42-47 A: 25-28 V: present Ratio: 2.6-2.8
Ll: 82- 110
Description: The dusky-toned dorsal fin is heavily marked with
irregular black longitudal bands or blotches, whilst the sporadic creamy-white
anal has a black longitudal band, with further faint markings. The slightly
triangular and fan-shaped caudal is dusky with light markings in the upper part.
The pectoral fins are a uniform dark grey. Ventral fins are white or cream.
In the upper body, there are 8-12 (Tweedie,1949; 15-20) narrow, bluish-green
irregular vertical bars, which cross the lateral line overlaid by a brassy
blue-green sheen. The greenish-grey mid-section includes an area around the
gill cover which is tinted turquoise. There are large, continuous areas of
black blotches with light grey spotted markings intermixed. The lower region
is normally light grey.
Juvenile differences in colouration:
The bright markings of this regulary imported young fish may tempt the novice
aquarist to buy this Snakehead for the community aquarium, with dire consequences !
Juvenile body colour is grey-green dorsally and below, the belly is creamy white.
There are two black parallel longitudal bands. The upper one runs from the snout
through the eye, to the base of the caudal fin, whilst the other begins just
above the corner of the mouth, runs through the pectoral fin base and onto
the caudal. The interspace between these bands is coloured brick red, which
fades to a light pink (150 mm-300 mm in size) with age. Dorsal and anal fins
are unmarked (Weber & de Beaufort 1922)
and transparent. In Malaya, Tweedie (1949) describes several stages of colour
phases in Channa micropeltes and illustrates the red interspace at a size of
150 mm (the intermediate juvenile stage) and at around 280 mm, when the bars
break up and eventually become the adult pattern (400-600 mm).
Size: to 640 mm
Synonyms: Ophiocephalus micropeltes, Ophiocephalus bivittatus,
Ophiocephalus diplogramme, Ophiocephalus serpentinus, Ophiocephalus stevensii,
The distribution of this well-known species includes India, Burma, Thailand,
Vietnam, the Malay Archipelago and the islands of the Indo-Australian Archipelago.
Vaas (1952) ;
Vaillant (1902) ;
Weber & deBeaufort (1922).
Alfred (1966) ;
Herre & Myers (1937) ;
Vaas et al (1953).
In Thailand 'pla chado' is rated highly as a food fish and is sent to
market alive in tubs of water. When the fish is sold live it is promptly
stunned and decapitated. It is a voracious creature whose habitat is mainly
large rivers or ponds. So, in light of the above circumstances, water conditions
are not critical although a temperature between 25 and 28 °C is needed.
In the region of West Borneo, Vaas (1952)
Vaas (1952) lists this large predator as
preferring to eat fish of all sizes, shrimps, prawns and crabs.
Very destructive towards other fish when guarding its eggs and has been known
(as in other Channa species) to even attack humans at this time