Channa is a genus of fish in the family Channidae, commonly known as snakehead, native to Asia. This genus contains more than 35 scientifically described species, but the most well known are probably the northern snakehead (Channa argus) and the giant snakehead (Channa micropeltes). These species have a wide natural distribution extending from Iran in the west, to China in the east and parts of Siberia in the Far East. They are one of the most common staple food fish in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, where they are extensively cultured. Apart from their importance as a food fish, snakeheads are also consumed as a therapeutic for wound healing as well as reducing post-operative pain and discomfort and collected for the international aquarium pet trade. The diets of various species of Channa include fish, frogs, snakes, rodents, birds and insects. They have a labyrinth organ, which allows them to breathe air for short periods, and they use this adaptation to travel across land in the event that their habitat becomes inhospitable.
The taxonomy of the genus Channa is incomplete and a comprehensive revision of the family has not been performed. A phylogenetic study in 2010 has also indicated the likelihood of the existence of undescribed species of channids in Southeast Asia. In June 2011, the Malabar snakehead Channa diplogramma from peninsular India was shown to be a distinct species, 146 years after its initial description and 134 years after it was synonymised with C. micropeltes, establishing it is an endemic species of peninsular India. The study also suggested that the species shared a most recent common ancestor with C. micropeltes, around 9.52 to 21.76 MYA.