The snakefish: A concerning ecological threat (Updated with picture; Updated again: the snakefish may have been over-sensationalized)

In 2002, the snakefish (or Channidae) was described as “something from a bad horror movie” by US Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Planet Ark describes snakefish as having “a voracious appetite, often consuming all other fish in a lake or pond and even eating its young. It can slither across land, staying out of water for up to three days, to find new sources of food.” Norton also warns that once on land “snakeheads can eat almost any small animal in its path…. They have even attacked people in China who got too close to snakeheads’ egg nesting areas.” According to Wikipedia, snakefish can be up to over a metre in length and over 6 kilograms in weight. Most snakefish are 2-3 feet long. They’re also fast reproducers with no natural enemies outside of their native environments. Within their native environments, small snakefish are preyed upon by bigger fish, while full-grown snakefish are consumed by crocodiles and alligators. Because of their ability to move into new habitats and wipe out local ecosystems (and to then hop out of the water and mosey on over to another body of water and repeat the process) snakefish have been prohibited in 13 American states and other countries (e.g., Australia).

Hat Tip: Xander Legere


Snakehead Picture:


This snakefish was caught in England. In an article entitled Killer fish terrifies Britain, News.Com (as in Rupert Murdoch) describes that snakefish as “A savage fish that eats everything it comes across, including people. The discovery of the fish is reported to have caused widespread panic among conservationists and anglers. An Environmental Agency source described the snakefish as “the ultimate invasive species”. The source said that if snakefish begin breeding in the area it will be a disaster.

Hat Tip: Xander Legere


Update #2: According to New Scientist the snakefish has been over-sensationalized:

Michael LePage writes that we have far less to be afraid of than a number of articles have been suggesting. Firstly, the giant snakehead is a tropical species that could not survive winters of climates like that of England. Secondly, he says that while “the northern snakefish is a problematic invasive species than can alter ecosystems”, they do not wipe out all other fish species. LePage is also skeptical of stories of attacks on people, saying that “Fisherman are notorious for their tall tales”.

Hat Tip: Stoobs

22 Responses to “The snakefish: A concerning ecological threat (Updated with picture; Updated again: the snakefish may have been over-sensationalized)”
  1. mothandrust says:

    Holy mother Mary, that is one ugly, evil looking son of a fish!

  2. Stoobs says:

    Smuggled in for an aquarium? Who the hell would want to go to bed knowing that thing was in the next room? Or look up from their dinner and see it staring hungrily at them with its cold, soulless gaze? Seriously, why would you want one of those things in your aquarium, not just to the point of buying it, but to smuggling it illegally into the country?

    Hideous creature.

  3. Xander Legere says:

    This fish is reportedly – I’ll try and find the original link – caused wholesale destruction to the Uzbekistan anchovy industry in the 2000, when it was accidentally released. Caused upwards of 250 million dollars in losses, because the snake fish ate them all.

  4. Stoobs says:

    Check for a less sensationalist article on the fish, which apparently is not a major worry for British scientists.

  5. There is a great documentary you have to watch on something similar to this, Darwin’s Nightmare it’s called.

    It was quite an eye opener, check it out. I found it in Blockbuster last year sometime.

    A must see!!!!!!

  6. Stoobs says:

    You missed the part where the picture shown there is not actually a snakefish at all, but another completely unrelated (though also quite nasty) species.

  7. deedee says:


  8. st michael says:

    am hearing about this fish for the first time and i want to ask whether it can be eating.

  9. baby stomper01 says:

    DUDE!!! that fish is awesome!!! id love to have it in my aquarium!!! man i want that fish… it looks much like the one in my brain that sometimes controls my actions… hmm… oh but yeah sweet!

  10. mandi says:

    wow that is crazzzzzzyyyyy i hope they dont come down here in the south i would never go to a beach or river again!!!

    • christina says:

      i know mandi that is so weird i want to eat one im a fisher and a good one at that please email me i want to be your pen pal

  11. erorneboone says:

    Various of guys talk about this topic but you said really true words.

  12. casey says:

    seen these on tv wow nasty bastards good eatin i hear lol

  13. wooot?? i so it on a show and it could get out of a metal box… a METAL BOX WITH CHAINS ALL OVER THE BOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and it chould walk on land and breath the oxygen in our air!!! HELP THE SNAKEFISH IS GOING TO TAKE OVER THE EARTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. christina says:

    i know its crazy they walk from river to river they can live with out air for up to 2 months i saw one walking before we trapped him

  15. That’s one scary looking creature!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Just heard a chef on Martha Stewart who is serving this fish

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