Watch out – there’s a snakehead about!

A giant snakehead (Channa micropeltes) has been caught it British waterways causing alarm amongst anglers. Branded as "Sid Fishious" by the press, the catch featured in this week’s Angler’s Mail article "Killer Frankenfish caught in UK river!"

The predatory piscean (all 3lbs of it!) was caught from the River Witham in Lincolnshire. Staff at the Angler’s Mail passed on pictures of the voracious feeder to snakehead experts for verification.

Dr Walt Courtney (United States Geological Survey) remarked that this was the "most northernmost" find of this species which was "clearly released by an aquarist". So its unlikely that there are many more snakeheads about but maybe anglers should familiarise themselves with this fish…just in case! Have you seen this fish? (Maryland Department of Natural Resources).

Originating in Asia, native giant snakeheads can reach over 1 metre in length and weigh in at 20 kg. So the British catch is relative small fry although established populations could reek havoc in Britain’s waterways by eating native fish and with the potential to spread disease. Lucky for us the snakehead favours warmer waters (25-28ºC) so is unlikely to successfully invade in the UK, unless more are released.

Concerned fish enthisiasts should check out Controls on the Keeping or Release of Non-Native Fish in England and Wales – and the accompanying guide which features the closely-related species, Channa argus argus.

More on the giant snakehead from USGS

Non-indigenous aquatic species in the US

More on the story from the New Scientist blog

One thought on “Watch out – there’s a snakehead about!

  1. SAF August 20, 2008 / 7:55 am

    Fishing in the UK on vacation, always consider Shropshire. We offer all types of angling .

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