Snakehead Fishes (Channa spp.) in the USA
Amy J. Benson
Abstract.—The introduction of snakehead fishes from their origins in Asia is relatively recent to the conterminous United States with the first of many collections beginning in the late 1990s. For decades, they have been commercially fished and cultured around the world for human food and, to a lesser degree, for the aquarium trade. Of the more than a dozen snakehead species known to be of economic importance in their native ranges, five have been introduced into the United States. Four of these have been collected in open waters of which three have successfully established reproducing populations. The most widespread is a temperate species, Northern Snakehead Channa argus and is established in the Mid-Atlantic region and in Arkansas. The other two snakehead species with established populations are Bullseye Snakehead C. marulius in Florida and Blotched Snakehead C. maculata in Hawaii. The Giant Snakehead C. micropeltes has been collected in six states, but there are no known established populations in the United States. A fifth species, Chevron Snakehead C. striata is present in Hawaii but only at one aquaculture facility. Introductions of snakehead fishes into this country were most likely the result of the popularity of this group of fishes in Asia.