Post date: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 12:26
Updated date: 8/7/19
Northern Snakehead, Channa argus


This is an invasive species in the US, native to northern China and eastern Rusia. They became established in the Potomac River around 1998 and the Delaware River around the same time, probably after being bought live for food at an Asian fish market. They are now well-established in southeastern Pennsylvania and southwestern New Jersey. Eradication from riverine environments is impossible with today's technology. All import of all species of snakeheads was banned in 2002 to try to control the spread of this species, which has the potential to live as far north as Hudson Bay, but it seems to be a case of "too little, too late". Northern snakeheads are popular dinner fare, providing meaty boneless fillets. The northern snakehead is a predator, and will take live baits as well as lures. They compete with our native fishes, especially bowfin, for food and living space.The fight of this fish can be memorable.


The Arkansas Invasion


A reproducing population of northern snakeheads has also been discovered in Arkansas, in a tributary in the Mississippi River basin. An extensive eradication effort , including poisoning 200 miles of ditches and streams, was undertaken in 2008-2009. This monumental effort employed hundreds of people and cost millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the effort failed, and in the few scant years since the eradication operation, the fish have not only recolonized their original home, but spread to the neighboring watershed as well. Since the area they have been found in connects directly to the Mississippi River, it is likely that over the next few decades, Northern Snakeheads will spread throughout the Central United States.


Update: A northern snakehead was caught in Missouri's St. Francis River (May of 2019)



Snakehead Terror Film

Snakeheads in Film


The voracious and alien nature of the Northern Snakehead has inspired a couple of highly entertaining B-horror movies: Snakehead Terror, Frankenfish, Night of the Snakehead Fish, and Swarm of the Snakeheads.




Range Map

Photo Credits:

Moose439, The Sci fi Channel

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