Common name: Shol (Bengal); Ruan (Borneo); gabus (Java); Trey Ras (Kampuchea);
Aruan (Malaya) ; Dalag (Philippines) ; Striped Snakehead (Sri Lanka); Luhula (Sri Lanka);
pla chorn (Thailand); Ca Loc (Vietnam).
First description: Bloch, M.E. 1793
Naturgeschichte Auslandischer Fische. Vol.7.; p.141-142.
Meristic: D: 37-46 A: 23-28 C: 17 V: present Ratio: 2.7-3.9
Dorsal and anal colouration is white (all fins darken with age), freckled or
streaked brown. The caudal is brownish with oblique dark bands (creamy flecks when older).
Upper body pigmentation can be greenish-brown to almost black (amber to tan with age).
Oblique bars (similar to the caudal markings) give the impression of a forward facing,
V-shaped pattern consisting of dark streaks and blotches. The lower half of the sides
are white- silvery or light brown with similar blotches and streaks, at right angles
to those of the upper group. This assumes a herring-bone configuration that disperses
with adulthood. The belly and the lower surface of the head are white.
Juvenile differences in colouration: The fry are a deep orange [brick
red in Malaya, (Soong No date)]
overall, until a size of 15mm, when a greenish
tint appears, along with a shiny white spot, located high up, which can be
repressed at will. At 25 mm, the pigment fades and leaves only a diffuse orange
lateral stripe. The fins are pale yellow, with dorsal and anal displaying a dark
margin. The characteristic dark stripes start to appear at 40 mm, along with a
pseudo-ocellus in the posterior edge of the dorsal fin, which sometimes persists
to maturity (
A dark band runs from the corner of the mouth
to suboperculum (
Weber & deBeaufort 1922)
which fades with age.
Between 50 mm and 80 mm the overal body colour is pale grey, lightening to silver
on the belly. There are 14-16 thin, dark chevrons pointing towards the head,
whilst 3 faint black lines radiate from the eye, across the head. The anal fin
is edged with a thick black line and has a single row of spots.
Size: To a size of 600 mm (900 mm;
Weber & deBeaufort 1922)
Sub-species and colour variants: Due to its vast distribution, several
colour variations have been established.
The following have been noted:
C.striata : Malayan form
An average number of dorsal rays (41-43) was counted by
Cantor (1842) who
also recorded a pale salmon colour between the blackish bands.
C.striata : N/East Indian form
Francis Hamilton, cites the fish as Ophiocephalus wrahl (synonym of C.striata).
It had a higher than average dorsal ray count (43- 46) and the interspaces
between the body bands were yellow(
C.striata : Phillipines form
The body colour is pale muddy/brownish grey above. The pectoral fins are colourless,
with dark spots. Anal and caudal are very dark with a bronze greenish cast (
C.striata : Sri Lankan form
suggests that general colours vary with the nature of the water.
The fins are olive, with a narrow longitudal band of white/orange on the dorsal
and anal (which also has a light external margin. Along the base of the caudal,
are three white/orange transverse stripes.
The pectorals are a uniform olive/brown. The top of head has a few brown spots
and there is a brown patch under the eye.
He also further classifies the geographical form into their ecological varieties namely :-
Flowing water type - which have white/pale green bellies with sparsely scattered spots.
The head and back are olive- green.
Still water type - dark brown above, yellow/bright orange middle of body, white belly
with more numerous dark streaks and spots.
Brackish water type - distinctive pink tinge to the sides of the body, while the
white intervals between the dark bands are pale blue.
Synonyms: Ophicephalus striatus, Ophiocephalus striatus, Ophiocephalus chena,
Ophiocephalus cyanospilos, Ophiocephalus planiceps, Ophiocephalus sowarah,
Ophiocephalus vagus, Ophiocephalus wrahl.
Nearly across the entire Oriental region, including many smaller islands.
It has been said to be introduced in the Hawaiian and the Philippine islands
Weber & deBeaufort 1922;
Shaw & Shebbeare (1937).
Vaas and Schuurman (1949).
Herre & Myers (1937);
Tweedie (1933) &
Soong (no date).
It has been already demonstrated that this fish is the most widespread and common
Snakehead in the Oriental region. It can live in in a variety of habitats and for
this reason, has been widely cultured, and to some countries is a very important food fish.
Due to the countless different water conditions it encounters, C.striata can be
kept in a large aquarium without too much concern about p.H and dH levels, but
the temperature should be tropical in nature, between 23 and 27 °C.
Except when breeding, it tends to be a 'lone wolf' mostly lying under cover,
waiting for its prey of frogs, tadpoles, insects, worms and other fishes (
Soong, no date).
In Sri Lanka, the Striped Snakehead reproduces several times a year while in the
Philippines they reproduce every month of the year (
Herre 1924). A crude attempt
at nest making is made, mostly using leaves of water plants and the hatchery is
hidden in dense vegetation. Up to 2,500 floating amber eggs (1.5 mm) are fertilized,
which can hatch in 24 hours (2.8 mm) in nature and 48 hours in the aquarium.
Like C.punctata, hatching is dependant on the intensity of the sun's rays.
The young swim about in a mass, and one or other of the parents guards them at
all times. The larva feed on algae and protozoa at this stage. Seven days after
hatching, they have attained a size of 6.2mm and come to the surface for air in
unison until they reach 50 mm. At the post-larval phase they consume large quantities of
daphnids and Cyclops. The juveniles that survive the diseases and predators (including their
parents, if hungry), will feed exclusively on a carnivorous diet of shrimps, prawns,
aquatic insects and young fish.
C.striata usually matures at 300 mm and an age of two years.
Further accounts of the breeding, rearing and feeding of C.striata can be located
in the following:-
Paramenwaran and Muregeson (1975);