snakehead, common name for members of the family Channidae, hardy freshwater fish native to S and E Asia and tropical Africa, where they are a popular food fish. Snakeheads are elongated fishes with long dorsal and anal fins, small heads, large mouths, sharp teeth, and slimy skin. They use primitive lungs as well as gills to breathe, and some are able to migrate over land. Voracious predatory fish, they feed mostly on other fish. A number of the species are raised in aquaculture in their native ranges. The northern snakehead (Channa argus) and the giant snakehead (Channa micropeltes), both of which may exceed 40 in. (1 m) in length, have been found as introduced species in the United States since 2002, where they have no natural enemies and are considered invasive.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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