Common name: Taki (Bengal); green snakehead; spotted or dotted snakehead;
Mada (mud) ara or Mada kannaya (Sri Lanka), Murrel (India).
First description: Bloch, M.E. 1793
Naturgeschichte Auslandischer Fische. Vol.7.; p.139.
Diagnostic: This description from
Deraniyagala (1929) is of the
Sri Lankan form.
Meristic: D: 29-32 A: 20-23 C: 12-14 V: present Ratio: 2.9-3.0
Description: The parallel, top and bottom fins are a pale yellow-dark
olive colour with a light gold border (also caudal)
and a shiny green-gold overlay. The markings dorsally, are four to five longitudal
rows of spots; the lowestseries is the largest. Sideward on the anal (bottom)
fin there are three-four rows of spots. The pale yellow
to dark olive, rounded caudal has four-five dark, transverse bands with a light olive transverse band.
The round caudal fin is also spotted. Five transverse bands are arranged on the pectorals.
On the body, the upper (olive) and lateral section (greenish-yellow) markings consist of a well-defined
black shoulder mark above the pectoral fin and six to seven dark transverse triangular bands, descending
from base of dorsal fin to the lateral line. Overlaid occasionally, there are numerous minute black spots.
A configurative colouration of white and pale green, mingles to yellow ventrally, where are imprinted ten
The throat is sometimes a bluish green. On the head there is a well-defined brown stripe running from mid-eye
to top corner of opercle, another runs downwards from the eye to the corner of the mouth, extending to the opercle.
Here can also be viewed two-three pairs of blotches and three-four dots.
Juvenile differences in colouration: In Sri Lanka, the young have a
chocolate-coloured body with three yellow stripes
which are lighter ventrally. There is also a golden lateral stripe from the snout,
through the eye to the middle of the caudal fin. At 13 mm, black body scales appear
along with three dark bands on the caudal fin. Adult colouration arrives at a size
of 70 mm upwards (
observing 20 day old fry, refers to the 'characteristic
iridescent lemon yellow and dull longitudal blotched bands'. At 150mm the fish are
dark brown on the upper sides and a lighter creamy colour lower down. Blotches and
spots cover the fish all over with a shiny green/gold overlay.
The fry bred by one of us (S.C.) at a size of 5 mm initially had 2
crisp bands above and below the lateral line, the mid-section was cream
with a diamond-shaped white patch on the top of the head. After 3 months
at a size of 50 mm., the stripes broke into the characteristic, blotched pattern.
Size:to 250 mm.
Sub-species and colour variants:
C.punctata variety A
This form was first realized by
in a study of this species which spanned 3 years. A chromosome count of 34 was recorded and their
geographical location was the Gauhati North Bank, Assam (India). A type of the
same count from the river Yamuna, Delhi (India) was also noted by
C.punctata variety B
This varient has 32 chromosomes. This seems to have a wider dispersion,
although many years of further research is needed to give a more comprehensive
pattern of geographical distribution. It is known from Gauhati South Bank, Silchar,
)and Kalyani, West Bengal (
Manna & Prashad 1974).
C.punctata Bengal form
Shaw & Shebbeare (1937)
describes a browner bodied fish with 12 rays in the
caudal fin. Unlike other varieties, the pectoral fin is not spotted or striated
and it has a higher than average lateral scale count (37-40).
Synonyms: Ophicephalus punctatus, Ophiocephalus punctatus, Ophiocephalus affinis,
Ophiocephalus indicus, Ophiocephalus lata, Ophiocephalus karrouvei, Ophiocephalus karruwey .
This fish's distribution is throughout India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma.
Claims of colonization outside of this area must be taken with caution or attributed to
human interference. Other authors contributing to the range of this common Indian fish are:
Hora and Gupta (1940);
Jayaram and Singh (1977);
Shaw & Shebbeare (1937);
Qayyum and Qasim (1962);
In Sri Lanka C.punctata has been reported by
Deraniyagala (1929) and
Qayyum and Qasim (1962)
claims that it is one of the most common
freshwater fishes in this country and lives in ponds and rivers.
They are also found in 'tanks' (
which are man-made, more or
less square, enclosures of water (from half to 10 acres in area), with high
embankments. These are used by the natives for bathing, washing and also
It is refered to as the second most important food fish by Sri Lankans and can
be found for sale in most markets. It's habitat includes ponds and large 'tanks'
in the low lying country, but rarely running water.
Although this is a medium-sized Snakehead and it can live in harsh conditions,
C.punctata prefers filtered waters but without a deal of water movement. Water
temperature and p.H can be of average aquarium conditions.
Forage fish such as Puntius sophore, Oxygaster bacaila and Barbus stigma are
used as live food in India (
but these can be supplemented in
the aquarium by beast heart, worms and other small fishes.
Sexual differences were mentioned by
where the male was
discovered to have pin head black spots on its yellow under-belly.
The females, as well as their swollen abdomens may be distinguished by the
diffused black blotches in the ventral region.
Temperatures from 26-29 °C, brought about by cool rainy weather are an important
factor in the spawning, as well as larval development (
young of C.punctata have been collected at different times of the year in Sri Lanka,
which would indicate that they have several breeding seasons.
The amber-coloured eggs (1.2 mm) are laid in shallow water, where no nest is
constructed. Like all 'Channidae' eggs, they contain an oil globule in the yolk
and float on the surface
Hatching occurs in 24 hours
(26.5-28 °C ), when the dull brown fry are 2.7 mm long and at 20 days,
they measure 7.2 mm (Banjeri, 1974). They are guarded by both parents
(in particular the female) which, even when confronted with hunger,
would not harm their offspring (
Qayyum and Qasim 1962).
The foods consumed by the
young C.punctata at the size, 15-30 mm, are mainly cyclops and daphnids (
Qayyum and Qasim 1962).
An aquarium spawning was achieved by one of us (S.C.) in a 9,100 litre, 9.8 x 2.4 x 2.4 m tank
in water of 1.6-3.2 cm depth. The fry were found in the shallow water.