Channa marulius

12. December 2022

Which species is the largest snakehead fish? Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered unambiguously, because the expression “angler’s lingo” has already become proverbial for uncertain statements. Anglers (and not only them!) like to exaggerate a little. But indisputable is: Channa marulius from India belongs to the top candidates for the race. The largest documented catch of a Channa marulius was a specimen about 120 cm long that weighed 13.6 kg, but allegedly there has also been a 183 cm long specimen weighing a good 30 kg. Nevertheless, the normal size of the species is “only” about 50 cm, which is also quite decent!

In India, its homeland, there are huge, tame C. marulius that live in ponds in sacred temple precincts and are worshipped and fed by believers. These animals are so tame that they will take rice balls from your hand. However, rice is not an adequate food for these animals, which are predatory fish.

In the aquarium, Channa marulius are pleasant contemporaries, but they are reserved for owners of very large aquariums, zoos and display aquariums because of their size. Their aggression potential is low compared to that of other snakeheads. This changes at breeding time. Then these giants form pairs, which build a nest around the numerous brood sustainably defend. Nobody wants to be attacked and bitten by a 50 cm snakehead, because they have quite decent teeth and are really fearless! 

The young animals, as we can offer them now once again after many years, are completely different colored than adult animals. As long as they wear the juvenile dress, they are schooling fish. However, when they lose the yellow longitudinal stripe they come into puberty, in which every conspecific is seen as a food competitor. Only when they reach sexual maturity do they become interested in conspecifics again. These phases are typical for large predatory fishes, especially during puberty it is impossible to keep more than one specimen in the aquarium. But with Channa marulius everything runs moderately and manners, why primarily the possible final size is a restriction for the suitability as an aquarium fish. 

We have also made a small film about these fish, which you can watch here:

For our customers: the animals have code 409102 on our stocklist. Please note that we supply exclusively to wholesalers.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer