Introduction




The following is an extract from a yet unpublished work by Stephen Bedford Clark and Arthur Frisby that details the morphology, distribution and behaviour of Snakeheads:-

Fish of the family Channidae (or commonly called Snakeheads) comprise of two genera:

Channa from Asia and Parachanna from Africa.

These voracious predators are important food fish and frequently imported for the hobby where they make impressive exhibits, frequently exceeding a foot in length. Unhappily, the dearth of popular literature makes identification of these imports problematical.

This difficulty is compounded by the dramatic colour changes these fish often undergo during maturation and the inacurate labelling of many species in popular literature. Accounts of their care in captivity are also scarce. Fortunately where the fish are important economically or there is a dietary dependance, their is an abundance of literature pertaining to their culture.

For instance, there are discussions here of differences between C.gachua and C.orientalis, between C.maruliodes, C.melanoptera and C.marulius and between C.pleuropthama, C.spiratus and C.lucia. There are also descriptions of the different forms of the widespread C.gachua, C.punctata and C.striata. The work ends with a compilation of meristic details, some of the commonest synonyms and a comprehensive bibliography.

Naming and renaming of fish by authors, without correct ichthyological procedures can often cause taxonomic confusion. Where species are dubious or interlinked as sub species, suggestions have been made here and in subsequent years may be proven by more competant persons. But one must always remember, no matter how many times the name may change - the fish remains the same !

The authors would like to dedicate this work to our partners, Angela Briggs-Clark and
Gwen Frisby.