This snakehead, often traded under the name Channa cf. barca, originates from the northern Indian province of Assam. C. stewartii can reach a length of up to 30 cm (usually around 20 cm) and as a predatory fish should only be kept along with fish that are at least 2/3 of its body length. Besides living and dead fish they accept as food insects, worms, coarse frozen food and after habituation also food sticks.
Since their area of occurrence is not in the tropical area, they can be kept well in the unheated aquarium. They tolerate temperatures between 15 – 30°C, also to the water parameters only small requirements are made. Since they can breathe atmospheric air in addition to gill breathing, the oxygen content of the water is of secondary importance.
Currently is the season for species of Channa from India. Every now and then we can offer the gorgeous Channa pardalis, which is also known in the hobby under the name of „True Blue“ (see http://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/channa_sp_true_blue_en/). There is a second, very similar Channa, traded under the name of Channa sp. Meghalaya. There is a rumour among the Channa freaks that this should represent a second, valid species of Channa, already under scientific description. The main differences between the True Blue and Meghalaya are said to be the lack of black spots in the face of the Meghalaya and the presence of a bright orange zone in front of the eye of Meghalaya.
Currently we have both Channa in stock, a good opportunity to take a closer look on them. So I picked up the largest (14-15 cm) pair of C. sp. Meghalaya (at least the male is for sure a male) and the smallest individual and photographed them. The female fits perfectly to the diffeences described above: no black spots in the face and a bright orange zone in front of the eye. The male fits not as good. The black spots are also lacking, but there is not the slightest sign of an orange zone in front of the eye. The halfgrown young adult has so many black spots in the face that I thought a C. pardalis would have been placed erroneously in the tank of the C. sp. Meghalaya – but then I spotted the bright orange zone in front of the eye…
So – as a conclusion: there are no constant differences in respect of head coloration between Channa pardalis (True Blue) and C. sp. Meghalaya. One should keep and breed them separatly, but there are in no way clear specific differences.
For our customers: Channa sp. Meghalaya have code 409283 on our stocklist, Channa pardalis (True Blue) code 409383. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade. Both Channa are available in limited numbers only!
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer