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Northern snakehead

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Northern snakehead
Channa argus.jpg
Scientific Classification
Subspecies
  • C. a. argus
  • C. a. warpachowskii[1]

The Northern Snakehead is a carnivorous species of freshwater fish that is also known by the scientific name Channa argus. They are native to Asia, where it is viewed as a delicacy and is used for medicinal purposes. Elsewhere, like the United States, it is seen as a monstrously destructive invasive species termed "frankenfish" by some. Perhaps their most interesting trait is that they can survive on land for up to four days.

Body Design

This is body design of Northern snakehead

Characteristic

The Northern snakehead have small head, eyes, large mouth, sharp teeth and are surrounded by a heavy mucus covering on their skin. These fish looks like snake or have blotches. They can grow up 5 feet long. [2] When they were young, showed red color in body and when they grew up, changed green color. And they grew up as adults, changed color like gold or brown.[3]

They have special ability; it cans to breathe out of water. They can survive out of water for a couple of days because the Northern snakeheads have little function of like human lungs. And they have heavy mucus covering on the skin. So they can stay wet as long as. Therefore, they can survive outside of water and low oxygen level.[2]

Other kind of snakehead
The Giant Snakehead, the most predatory of the species. They are known to growing huge sizes than others, display aggression of fish, and attack humans or eating.[4]

Life Cycle

The female northern snakehead lays thousands of eggs during the breeding period, which lasts from late May and July to December. And when female lays eggs, both male and female northern snakeheads protect their brood in a large nest that is made from algae.[3]

Northern snakehead larvae are about 4.5 millimeters long. They have reached about 11 millimeters in length within two weeks .[5] When they are young, they eat insects or planktons. However, when they grow up, they can eat other species fish, frogs, rats, and mollusk (invertebrates).[3]

Ecology

This is a habitat range map of the Northern Snakehead

The Northern Snakeheads only live in freshwater that has a temperature range of 0 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Therefore, it can survive in a large variety of climates, ranging from extremely cold to very warm. They would much rather live in stagnant shallow and muddy ponds or swamps that have lots of vegetation. Northern snakeheads can also found in canals, lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and muddy streams. [6] They are native to in China, Russia, and Korea, but were brought to the east coast of North America through aquariums and Asian food market. It is not often that you see a snakehead in water that is deeper than 2 meters. [7]\

They eat planktons, frogs, smaller fish, rats, and mollusk(invertebrates). When they are young, eat insects or planktons. However, they grow up as adults, can eat another species fish.[3]


The Northern Snakehead is a top-level predator. The Snakehead is a carnivorous fish, that consumes creatures that are 33% of its own body length. It's diet includes crayfish, dragonfly larvae, beetles, white perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, goldfish, gizzard shad, American eel, yellow perch, largemouth bass, spottail shiner, eastern silvery minnow, mummichog, channel catfish, green sunfish, tessellated darter, bream, carp, perch, crustaceans, aquatic insects, reptiles, small birds and mammals, and frogs. Instead of feeding during the winter time, the Northern Snakehead hibernates in the mud. [8] [9]

Because this fish is a predator to many, it doesn't have many natural predators. The biggest natural predator this creature has is man. Snakehead fishing is a major industry in Asia. Many Asian countries have a high demand for it. They use the fish to prepare delicious meals or for medicinal remedies. [10]

The Northern Snakehead can destroy a whole aqueous ecosystem. Because these fish can live in waters with low oxygen capacity, they have an advantage other large fish like bass. They eat practically everything they come in contact with. After the Snakehead wipes out one ecosystem, it will move on to the next one to the next one and do the same thing.[11]

In some countries, including the United States, they are sold as aquarium pets. They are commonly fed goldfish, and when the snakeheads grow up, some people give to them like mice, rats, and even rabbits too.[4]

Invasive Behavior

Northern Snakeheads can wipe out many aqueous freshwater ecosystems. Because their diet contains such a large variety of animals, they can find food just about anywhere. This means that Snakeheads will eat anything that crosses their path. They are very vicious predators.[12] Unlike other fish, the Northern Snakehead is able to survive in environments with low oxygen levels. While living on land with damp condition,which they can do for up to four days, the Snakehead can eat birds or small mammals.[13] If a human approaches the Northern Snakeheads young, the adult will attack. Since these fish come from a variety of places, they can contract different parasites and diseases, which they will carry to the places they travel to. [14]

The Northern Snakeheads are very aggressive and they eat almost every organism.[15] They have tremendous of reproductive rate.[3] In addition, they can adapt well in any climate even if in the cold winter too.[16]

Pest Control

The Northern Snakehead is a vicious predator, consuming everything that it comes across. Even though the treatment is quite expensive, the most common way that these fish are being controlled is by a pesticide called toxin rotenone. Researchers are trying to find another chemical they can use, because the current one not only kills the snakehead but most of the organisms in the surrounding areas.[17] Consequently, scientists can not completely get rid of them.[18]

Also a law has been put into effect in some states in the east coast that prohibits the possession of Snakeheads. [19] There is also an import ban for the Northern Snakehead. People are told to kill any Snakehead that they catch, and report any siting to their state's fish commision. [20] Few years ago, snakeheads were found in Maryland, so the state government drained all the lake water and added chemicals to kill off the fish, but that did not work. [21] In the United States federal government, they made a individual law and prohibits to bring alive snakeheads in United states.[22]

Video

This is a video of a Northern Snakehead in its natural environment.

References

  1. Channa argus Wikispecies. Web. last update January 13 2013. Unknown Author.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Helen, Fields.Invasion of the Snakeheads Smithsonian.com. Web. date of publication February 2005.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Kelvin, Newell. Snakehead Fish Total Fisherman. Web. Last Updated May 18 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Snakehead Fish Snakehead Fish. Web. Accessed October 14 2013. Author Unknown.
  5. Channa argus (fish) Global Invasive Species Database. Web. Last Modified May 21 2009. Author Unknown.
  6. Channa argus (fish) Global Invasive Species Database. Web. Last Updated May 21 2009. Unknown Author.
  7. northern snakehead Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study. Web. Date accessed October 09, 2013. Unknown author.
  8. DelViscio, Jeffery. Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) Introduced Species Summary Project. Web. Last updated October 23, 2004.
  9. Channa argus (fish) Global Invasive Species Database. Web. Last Updated May 21 2009. Unknown Author.
  10. DelViscio, Jeffery. Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) Introduced Species Summary Project. Web. Last updated October 23, 2004.
  11. DelViscio, Jeffery. Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) Introduced Species Summary Project. Web. Last updated October 23, 2004.
  12. Channa argus (fish) Global Invasive Species Database. Web. Last Updated May 21 2009. Unknown Author.
  13. Northern Snakehead Fish Department of Environmental Conservation. Web. Date Accessed October 20, 2013. Unknown Author
  14. Northern Snakehead Washington Invasive Species Council. Web. Date Accessed October 20, 2013.Unknown Author.
  15. 시애틀 산객. 미국의 외래 침입종 daum. blog. Web. Uploaded in May. 26. 2013.
  16. What is a Snakehead Fish? wiseGEEK. Web. Last-update October 15, 2013 Unknown Author.
  17. Building a Better Snakehead Trap Aquatic Invasive Species. Web. Date of Publication April 15, 2010. Unknown Author.
  18. CMHypno. US Invasive Species Hubpages. Web. Last-update August 26. 2013
  19. Building a Better Snakehead Trap Aquatic Invasive Species. Web. Date of Publication April 15, 2010. Unknown Author.
  20. Northern Snakehead Washington Invasive Species Council. Web. Date Accessed October 20, 2013.Unknown Author.
  21. 시애틀 산객. 미국의 외래 침입종 daum. blog. Web. Uploaded in May. 26. 2013.
  22. Sam, Eifling. Snakeheads: the Asian Fish That Terrified Arkansas psmag.com. Web. Uploaded in July. 5, 2010.