Channa gachua

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Channa gachua
Channa gachua TH203 - W004.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anabantiformes
Family: Channidae
Genus: Channa
C. gachua
Binomial name
Channa gachua
(F. Hamilton, 1822)
Channa gachua distribution.gif
Range map

Channa gachua, the dwarf snakehead, is a species of fish in the family Channidae. The name "dwarf snakehead" is also used for several other species of small snakeheads. C. gachua is native to freshwater habitats in southern Asia, where it has a wide distribution from Iraq to Indonesia. This fish is considered to be a species complex, a group of several closely related taxa with one name. It is likely at least three to four different species, and further research may differentiate them.[1] A few species such as Channa harcourtbutleri have been separated from the complex in recent decades.[2] The easternmost population of C. gachua is often recognized as a separate species C. limbata (with synonym C. longistomata), while the isolated Sri Lankan population often is recognized as C. kelaartii.[3][4]


C. gachua with babies

This species can reach 28 cm (11 in) in total length, but most individuals are much smaller.[5] It feeds on small fish, insects, and crustaceans. It is a mouthbrooder, with the male brooding the eggs and juveniles in his mouth.[5] Males have more-extended dorsal and anal fins than females, and develop more intense color pattern.[6]

Distribution and taxonomy[edit]

The species was recorded from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.[7] This is a common fish found in most any type of wetland.[1] It can live in large rivers or small brooks and creeks, in fast currents or stagnant waters, and in altered waterways such as canals.[5] It also lives in rice paddies.[8]

There is a distinct genetic split between western and eastern populations (the distribution of the two approach each other in Myanmar). As a consequence some recognize them as separate species with western being C. gachua and eastern C. limbata.[3][4] The isolated Sri Lankan population is also highly distinctive from a genetic point of view, leading some to recognize it as C. kelaartii.[3][4] Despite the deep genetic splits between these populations, their morphology is very similar.[4]


This fish is caught for food in many parts of Asia.[1] This is one of several Channa known as dwarf snakeheads, smaller species kept in aquaria. It is also valued for its attractive coloration.[9] This species has been studied for use in aquaculture operations.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Chaudhry, S. 2010. Channa gachua. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010. Downloaded on 04 October 2017.
  2. ^ Ng, H. H., P. K. Ng, and R. Britz. (1999). Channa harcourtbutleri (Annandale, 1918): a valid species of snakehead (Perciformes: Channidae) from Myanmar. Journal of South Asian Natural History 4(1): 57-63.
  3. ^ a b c Eschmeyer, W. N.; R. Fricke & R. van der Laan (eds.). "Channa species". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Conte-Grand, C., Britz, R., Dahanukar, N., Raghavan, R., Pethi-yagoda, R., Tan, H.H., Hadiaty, R.K., Yaakob, N.S. & Rüber, L. (2017). Barcoding snakeheads (Teleostei, Channidae) re-visited: Discovering greater species diversity and resolving perpetuated taxonomic confusions. PLoS ONE, 12 (9): e0184017.
  5. ^ a b c Froese, R. and D. Pauly, Eds. Channa gachua. FishBase. 2017.
  6. ^ "Channa gachua – Dwarf Snakehead (Channa limbata, Ophicephalus gachua)". Seriously Fish. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  7. ^ "Least Snakehead - Channa gachua - Details - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  8. ^ Silva, K. (1991). Population ecology of the paddy field‐dwelling fish Channa gachua (Günther) (Perciformes, Channidae) in Sri Lanka. Journal of fish biology, 38(4), 497-508.
  9. ^ a b Milton, J., et al. (2017). Ovarian development and histological observations of threatened dwarf snakehead fish, Channa gachua (Hamilton, 1822). Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences. In Press.

External links[edit]