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Channa is a genus of fish in the family Channidae, commonly known as snakehead, native to Asia. This genus contains more than 35 scientifically described species. These species have a wide natural distribution extending from Iran in the west, to China in the east and parts of Siberia in the Far East. They are one of the most common staple food fish in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, where they are extensively cultured. Apart from their importance as a food fish, snakeheads are also consumed as a therapeutic for wound healing as well as reducing post-operative pain and discomfort and collected for the international aquarium pet trade. The diets of various species of Channa include fish, frogs, snakes, rodents, birds and insects. They have a labyrinth organ, which allows them to breathe air for short periods, and they use this adaptation to travel across land in the event that their habitat becomes inhospitable.

Channa lucius 100614-3493 awr.jpg
Channa lucius
Channa striata.jpg
Channa striata
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anabantiformes
Family: Channidae
Genus: Channa
Scopoli, 1777
Type species
Channa orientalis
Bloch & J. G. Schneider, 1801

Bostrychoides Lacépède, 1801
Ophiocephalus Bloch, 1793
Philypnoides Bleeker, 1849
Psiloides Fischer, 1813
Pterops Rafinesque, 1815

The taxonomy of the genus Channa is incomplete and a comprehensive revision of the family has not been performed. A phylogenetic study in 2010 has also indicated the likelihood of the existence of undescribed species of channids in Southeast Asia.[1] In June 2011, the Malabar snakehead Channa diplogramma from peninsular India was shown to be a distinct species, 146 years after its initial description and 134 years after it was synonymised with C. micropeltes, establishing it is an endemic species of peninsular India. The study also suggested that the species shared a most recent common ancestor with C. micropeltes, around 9.52 to 21.76 MYA.[2][3]

In Assamese it is called goroi. In Malayalam it is called varal or braal. In Bhojpuri it's called "Garai"


There are currently 36 recognized species in this genus:[4]


  1. ^ Adamson, E.A.S., Hurwood, D.A. & Mather, P.B. (2010): A reappraisal of the evolution of Asian snakehead fishes (Pisces, Channidae) using molecular data from multiple genes and fossil calibration. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 56 (2): 707–717.
  2. ^ Benziger, A., Philip, S., Raghavan, R., Ali, P.H.A., Sukumaran, M., Tharian, J.C., Dahanukar, N., Baby, F., Peter, R., Rema Devi, K., Radhakrishnan, K.V., Haniffa, M.A., Britz, R. & Antunes, A. (2011): Unraveling a 146 Years Old Taxonomic Puzzle: Validation of Malabar Snakehead, Species-Status and Its Relevance for Channid Systematics and Evolution. PLoS ONE, 6 (6): e21272.
  3. ^ Li, X., Musikasinthorn, P. & Kumazawa, Y. (2006): Molecular phylogenetic analyses of snakeheads (Perciformes: Channidae) using mitochondrial DNA sequences. Ichthyological Research, 53 (2): 148-159.
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2017). Species of Channa in FishBase. October 2017 version.
  5. ^ Britz, R. (2013): Channa andrao, a new species of dwarf snakehead from West Bengal, India (Teleostei: Channidae). Zootaxa, 3731 (2): 287–294.
  6. ^ Lalhlimpuia, D.v., Lalronunga, S. & Lalramliana (2016): Channa aurantipectoralis, a new species of snakehead from Mizoram, north-eastern India (Teleostei: Channidae). Zootaxa, 4147 (3): 343-350.
  7. ^ Geetakumari, K. & Vishwanath, W. (2011): Channa melanostigma, a new species of freshwater snakehead from north-east India (Teleostei: Channidae). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 107 (3): 231-235.
  8. ^ Nguyen, V.H. (2011): Two new species belong to genus Channa (Channidae, Perciformes) discovered in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam. Vietnam Journal of Biology, 33 (4): 8-17.
  9. ^ Knight, J.D.M. (2016): Channa pardalis, a new species of snakehead (Teleostei: Channidae) from Meghalaya, northeastern India. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 8 (3): 8583-8589.
  10. ^ Thakur, V. R.; Raymond, J. J. A.; Halalludin, Beni; Kiruba-Sankar, R.; Knight, J. D. M.; Praveenraj, J. (2018-12-31). "Channa royi (Teleostei: Channidae): a new species of snakehead from Andaman Islands, India". Indian Journal of Fisheries. 65 (4). ISSN 0970-6011.
  11. ^ Endruweit, M. (2017). Description of a new dwarf snakehead (Perciformes: Channidae) from western Yunnan. Vertebrate Zoology 67(2): 173-178.