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Ma Awaiting Image

Assamese Snakehead

Channa stewartii
SynonymsOphiocephalus stewartii
DistributionIndia and Nepal.
Sexual DimorphismIn mature fish, the females are larger and fuller bodied.
Maximum Size25cm (9.8")
TemperatureCooler-than-average: 20-25 deg C (68-77 deg F)
Water ParameterspH: 6.0-8.0, dH: up to 20 degrees.
CompatibilitySpecies-only aquaria
LightingDim (brighter lighting should be diffused with plants)


The Assamese Snakehead is known from the Bagmati, Brahmaputra, Gandaki, and Koshi drainages in India, and the Bagmati, Gandaki, Kankai, Kamala, Karnali, and Koshi rivers in Nepal. Here it occurs in a wide variety of different habitats including both still ponds and running streams. The aquarium should be spacious (at least 5ft long) with plenty of hiding places amongst driftwood, rocky caves, and areas of dense planting. Provide an abundance of surface cover in the form of floating plant species to help diffuse the light. Filtration should be efficient with areas of moderate water movement and quieter resting areas out of the current, and frequent partial water changes are important to help keep nitrate to a minimum. It is essential that the aquarium has a tight fitting lid, and a small gap must be left between the surface of the water and the coverslides in order for the fish to come up and take in humid air. Snakeheads are obligate air breathers, which means they must have access to atmospheric air or they will drown. This is a territorially aggressive species that is best maintained singly or as a compatible male-female pair. In order to achieve this, some aquarists prefer to obtain a group of juveniles and wait until a pair forms naturally before re-homing the others. These fish are best maintained in a species-only aquarium, but if tankmates are desired, they must be at least as large as the adult snakeheads, or they will become a snack. Water must be cooler-than-average, and this species benefits from a seasonal change in temperature to emulate the wet and dry months. During the winter period, the fishes' metabolism will slow down and they will not require as much food. These annual cooler periods seem to be imperative for long-term health, vitality, and breeding potential. May also be seen on sale as the Golden Snakehead.


Small live or frozen foods are best for younger fish e.g. bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp etc. Larger specimens will take bigger foodstuffs such as Mysis shrimp, krill, prawns, fish flesh, and chopped earthworms (make sure these are clean and free of any pesticides). May eventually take some dried foods, but this should not be relied upon.


Unknown, but most likely a nest builder that provides eggs and fry with bi-parental care.

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