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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Channa striata

The snakehead murrel, Channa striata, is a species of snakehead. It is also known as the common snakehead, chevron snakehead, striped snakehead and aruan or haruan, and has also been classified under the binomial names Ophiocephalus striatus Bloch and Ophiocephalus vagus Peters.

It grows up to 1 m in length, though because of fishing this size is not found in the wild. It has a widespread range covering southern China, Pakistan, most of India, southern Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and most of South-east Asia. It has more recently been introduced to the outmost parts of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Mauritius. Reports beginning in the early 20th century that it was introduced into the wild in Hawaii, particularly the island of Oahu, are the apparent result of misidentifications, according to a publication. The only currently confirmed Hawaiian establishment of C. striata is on a commercial fish farm. Popular media and the US Fish and Wildlife Service were perpetuating this apparent mistake as recently as 2002. Early- to mid-20th century reports and texts referring to its introduction in California appear to be the result of a misunderstanding.

It is an important food fish in its native range and is of considerable economic importance. Adults are dark brown in colour with faint black bands visible across its entire body. Males and female both help to construct a nest out of water vegetation during breeding time and the eggs are guarded by the male.

It is common in freshwater plains, where it migrates from rivers and lakes into flooded fields, returning to the permanent water bodies in the dry season, where it survives by burrowing in the mud.

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