Big Red!

The Red Snakehead is a marvelous species best suited to large display aquariums

by Mike McEwan

The Red Snakehead is one of the largest of all fish from the family Channidae. Its aggressive temperament and unique personality makes it a favorite with most anyone fortunate enough to house one.

The body of the fish is elongated and very powerful. The ventral fins are small, the dorsal and anal fins being long-based and composed of soft rays. The fish possess an accessory breathing organ which helps enable them to survive for long periods of time while out of water if necessary.

Tank Setup

These predators need a tank as large as their appetite. In short, 100 gallons is the minimum-sized aquarium in which an adult should be kept. Even tanks of 150 gallons or more will not do justice to such a magnificent specimen.

The fish will generally leave plants alone. The aquarium should be aquascaped with dense vegetation. Floating plants are appreciated. Rocky caves and driftwood make ideal territories for smaller specimens.

Tankmates, if you dare keep the fish with others, must be chosen with care. Only fish of equal or greater size will survive. Large Cichlids such as Red Devils or Green Terrors will generally handle themselves well, but will soon be outgrown by the larger Snakehead.


Red Snakeheads are ferocious predators demanding a constant supply of live foods. They will frequently kill more than they can eat and are gluttonous feeders. Live fishes are preferred but the fish will also accept Earthworms or, possibly, chopped beef heart.

Water Chemistry

Red Snakeheads are hardy fish that will adapt to most aquarium conditions providing extremes of temperatures and pH are avoided.


Breeding is rare and possible only when the fish are kept in a large aquarium. The fish will spawn, the female laying large eggs that float to the surface. These eggs are guarded ferociously by the male. Keeping the aquarium at a temperature between 79-82 degrees F allow the young to hatch in 2-3 days. The fry remain at the surface for a week or more, still guarded by the male, until they are ready to swim normally. Feed newly-hatched Brine Shrimp.

Red Snakehead

Sci Name:
Channa micropeltes
India; Thailand; Burma; Malaysia
Max Size:
75-81 F.
Tank Size:
100 Gallons

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