Public Works and Environmental Services

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative offices are open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Mon - Fri
703-324-5500 TTY 711
12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 449, Fairfax, Va 22035
Shannon Curtis
Chief, Watershed Assessment Branch

Snakehead- Family Channidae

Much Longer Than Tall
Much Longer Than Tall
One Dorsal Fin
One Dorsal Fin
Forward/Upward Facing Mouth
Forward/Upward Facing Mouth

Northern Snakehead

Northern Snakehead - Channa argus

Scientific Name: Channa argus
Fairfax County Native: No
Size: Usually up to 33 inches but can get larger
Diet: Any animal small enough to fit in its mouth
Distribution sampling sites: Map

The northern snakehead is an introduced species to the Potomac River that is native to parts of Asia. It has been introduced into parts of Florida also. Urban myths say that this fish can walk on land and survive three days out of water. The northern snakehead can survive out of water longer than other fish because of its ability to breathe air, but it does not have the ability to walk on land. This species has spread rapidly because it can spawn up to five times a year and the parents guard the young.

More information on recommended management of this invasive species is available from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Jenkins, R. E., N. M. Burkhead, 1994, Freshwater Fishes of Virginia,1079 pgs., American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD

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