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James Chang

Snakehead

Snakeheads are predatory freshwater fish of the family Channidae that includes two genera known as Channa and Parachanna (1). The genus of Channa consists of 26 known species that are native to the freshwater areas of Asia while the genus Parachanna consists of 3 species which are native to the waters of tropical Africa(1). Snakeheads can be identified by its elongated dorsal and anal fins as well as their flat snake like head with its protruding lower jaw (1, 2). Channidae are commonly referred to as Snakeheads, this may be due to their elongated cylindrical bodies which are densely covered in large epidermal scales; the head in particular are covered in large scales which resemble that of snakes(1).

 Some snakehead species are small and can only reach a maximum length of only 17 centimeters, but most can grow to sizes many times greater than this(1, 3). Some snakeheads have been reported to grow over a meter in length(1). Snakeheads have the ability to breathe air due to a specialized organ behind its gills known as suprabranchial or labyrinthine organs(1, 2, 3). Not only are these organisms able to breathe air, but they have the ability to crawl short distances on land in order to migrate from one freshwater ecosystem to another(1).

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