Channa striata

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Snakehead murrel
Chiana striata, after Bleeker, 1879
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Channidae
Genus: Channa
Species: C. striata
Binomial name
Channa striata
(Bloch, 1793)
Distribution of Channa striata. Source: USGS 2004[2]
Synonyms[2]
  • Ophiocephalus striatus Bloch
  • Ophiocephalus vagus Peters

The snakehead murrel (Bengali: শোল), Channa striata, is a species of snakehead fish. It is also known as the common snakehead, chevron snakehead, and striped snakehead. It is native to South and Southeast Asia, and has been introduced to some Pacific Islands and Madagascar. In Assam it is locally known as xol.

Introduction[edit]

It grows up to a meter in length, though because of fishing, this size is rarely found in the wild. It has a widespread range covering southern China, Pakistan, most of India, southern Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and most of Southeast Asia. It has more recently been introduced to the outermost 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.[3] The only currently confirmed Hawaiian establishment of C. striata is on a commercial fish farm. Popular media and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service were perpetuating this apparent mistake as recently as 2002.[4][5] Early- to mid-20th century reports and texts referring to its introduction in California appear to be the result of a misunderstanding.[6]

It is an important food fish in its entire 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 females both help to construct a nest out of water vegetation during breeding time. Eggs are guarded by both parents. Fry are reddish orange and are guarded by both parents until they turn greenish brown at around 5–6 cm.

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.

It preys on frogs, water bugs, and smaller fish, and it will attack anything moving when breeding.

Nomenclature[edit]

Common snakeheads are known as xol in Assamese, shol (শোল) in Bengali, varaal (വരാല്‍)) in Kerala, India; viral (Tamil: விரால்) in Tamil Nadu, India and Sri Lanka; pla chon (Thai: ปลาช่อน) in Thailand;[7] gabus in Indonesia; haruan in Malaysia;[8] and haloan, aruan, haruan, bulig, dalag, or "mudfish" in the Philippines.

Gastronomy[edit]

Snakehead fish packed with lemon grass and lime leaves ready for steaming

A curry made with this fish and tapioca is a delicacy in Kerala. In Indonesia, common snakeheads are a popular type of salted fishes in Indonesian cuisine. In the Philippines, they are commonly served either fried, grilled, or with soup.

Dishes using this fish eaten with rice is very popular among Bengalis of Bangladesh and West Bengal.

Common snakeheads are very popular in Thai cuisine, where they are prepared in a variety of ways. Grilled fish is a common food item offered by street vendors or in kaeng som. Pla ra, a fermented fish sauce popular in northeastern Thai cuisine, is made by pickling common snakehead and keeping it for some time. Also, a Chinese sausage is prepared with common snakehead flesh in Thailand.[9]

Medical use[edit]

The Bathini Goud Brothers in Hyderabad, India, promote the swallowing of live murrel fish and herbs as an asthma treatment, although the high court ruled they cannot call it "medicine". They give it free to children on Mrigasira Nakshatra. No evidence indicates it is clinically effective, and children's rights campaigners have called for it to be banned.[10][11]

Folklore among Chinese in South China and Southeast Asia has it that eating haruan fish helps in postsurgical wound healing.[12]

References[edit]

Channa striata Thomas.jpg
  1. ^ Chaudhry,S. (2010). "Channa striata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Courtenay, Jr., Walter R. and James D. Williams. Channa striata USGS Circular 1251: Snakeheads (Pisces, Chinnidae) - A Biological Synopsis and Risk Assessment. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. 2004-04-01. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  3. ^ Walter R. Courtenay, Jr., James D. Williams, Ralf Britz, Mike N. Yamamoto, and Paul V. Loiselle. Bishop Occasional Papers, 2004. [1] Identity of Introduced Snakeheads (Pisces, Channidae) in Hawaii and Madagascar, with Comments on Ecological Concerns.
  4. ^ Akana-Gooch, Keiko Kiele. Hawaii snakehead lacks ferocity of mainland kin: A kinder, gentler fish, it poses no local threat to the environment. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 2002-07-28. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  5. ^ Federal Register: July 26, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 144). Federal Register Online. 2002-07-26. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  6. ^ Dill, William A., and Almo J. Cordone. Chevron snakehead, Channa striata (Bloch) History and status of introduced fishes in California, 1871-1996. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  7. ^ Fishing in Thailand (Thai)
  8. ^ Chua, Eddie. "The lure of the haruan". The Star Online. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Recipes
  10. ^ "Indians flock for asthma 'cure'". BBC News. 9 June 2003. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "SHRC moved against `fish medicine'". Times of India. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  12. ^ http://web.usm.my/mjps/MJPS%203(2)%202005/MJPS%203.2.3.pdf

External links[edit]