This profile was written by Bunny an active contributor to the site.


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Channa bleheri



    A lot of unusual in one fish! It’s only one of three fish lacking pelvic fins (the others are hagfish and lamprey,) it’s a carnivore considered peaceful enough for some community aquariums, it has to breathe through both it’s gills and labyrinth organ in order to avoid drowning, it’s small body is a riot of exotic colors and it’s broad head is covered with scales reminiscent of a snake.
Quick stats:
Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: 5.31 inches (13.5 cm)
Tank: Individual: 65 gallons (246.1 liters) or larger Pairs: 100 gallons (378.54 liters) or larger. Long, rectangular tanks are recommended.
Strata: Top to mostly bottom.
PH: 5.0-7.5
Hardness: Medium, dH: 5.0-10.0
Temperature: 73 – 79°F (23 – 26°C)


Order: Perciformes
Family: Channidae
Genera: Channa
Species: Channa bleheri

Common name:


Rainbow Snakehead 

    , Asiatic Snakehead, Smooth-Breasted Snakehead, Walking Snakehead


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ASIA: India. Brahmaputra River basin, Dibrugarh, Assam. Native to the hill streams, ponds, swamps and tropical rainforest streams.

General Body Form:Muscular, cigar-shaped body with a snake-like broad, flattened head. Long, elegant, continuous dorsal and anal fins. Caudal and pectoral fins are wide, rounded, and scallop-shaped. Scales on their heads look like those of a snake’s, giving this fish its name.

Coloration:The base color of the body and head vary greatly and include deep olives, red-ocher, and turquoise. A fine, cryptic net of brown-orange scales disrupt the shape of the body. Pectoral and caudal fins display vivid orange and black tiger markings. Dorsal and anal fins are turquoise proximally and red-ocher or dark brown along their distal edges. The dorsal fin is also marked with anterior-leaning, diagonal red-ocher/dark brown bars and often an eye-spot on the posterior of the fin. Multiple depths of iridescence create considerable flash and dimension over this fish. Coloring and patterns are much more intense in juveniles and continue to evolve over a lifetime, including a bright yellow to red-orange stripe running the length of its body.


  • Care:
    Moderate to Advanced
  • Water:
    Very clean, highly-filtered water of neutral pH. Native waters typically have a steady influx of freshwater. Regular, large water changes can reproduce this in the home aquarium.
  • Diet:
    Carnivorus: Voracious eaters of live and frozen foods: bloodworms, krill, lance fish, mussel, prawn, tubifex worms, whitebait, and white midge larvae. Can gradually learn to accept calamari, chunks of fish, shrimp, and mussels for human consumption. Non-aquatic foods they may accept include: crickets and earthworms. While unlikely that they will eat dry foods, some aquarists have been able to gradually introduce sinking meaty fish pellets/trout chow as part of a varied diet. Younger snakeheads enjoy bloodworms and krill. Feed once daily.
  • Tank/Decor::
    Provide a larger aquarium with low-current, gravel substrate and several hiding places in the form of driftwood, caves and plants. Much of their time is spent mid-water or hiding in ambush for prey. Floating plants help diffuse light. Uniquely, this fish breathes not only through its gills, but also through chambers above the gills that are lined with a form of skin that can absorb atmospheric oxygen. Leave several inches of air space at the top of the tank as they will suffocate if they cannot access surface air. A well-secured cover is advised as they’re capable of escaping when they swim in quick bursts.
  • Communities:
    Aggressive: Best for the species-only aquarium as it feeds on other fish. Pairs may be kept in aquariums that are at least 100 gallons (378.54 liters.) In large aquariums with several hiding places small groups may be kept in a 1 to 1 ratio. Even then there may be some aggression. It can be a community fish with careful consideration. Despite being predators, snakeheads are timid and a balance must be struck between finding relatively fast-swimming, similarly-sized tankmates and those that will neither harass nor predate them. Successful communities have been built with larger barbs and botias, smaller bichirs, bushfish, datanoides, larger loricariids and synodontis catfish.


    Tropical rainforest streams, ponds and swamps.


    Difficult. Sexual dimorphism: Males are larger and more colorful, females are fuller-bodied when in breeding condition. There are few details about reliably spawning this fish in captivity. They are bubble-nesters that need to be conditioned and rested over the winter, then acclimatized to the changing seasons in their native Indian habitat. The couple rub against to spawn. When the eggs are released, both parents tuck them away within a bubble nest then care for the fry when they hatch within 24 to 48 hours. It’s critical that the fry remain with the parents as they are feed feeder eggs and mucus excreted from the parents’ heads. In roughly 2 weeks the fry are free-swimmers and can move on to eating brine shrimp nauplii.


5/5 - (19 votes)


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