Friday, March 4, 2011

Snakehead (Haruan)

The Snakeheads are members of the Freshwater perciform fish family Channidae, native to Africa and Asia. These elongated predatory fish are distinguished by a long dorsal fin, large mouth and shiny teeth. They have a physiological need to breathe atmospheric air, which they do with asuprabranchial organ: a primitive form of a labyrinth organ. There are two extant genera, Channa Asia, and Parachanna in Africa, consisting of 30-35 species.

Snakeheads are known by many names, including Frankenfish, Channa and Monster fish. They are popular aquarium species, but require large aquariums since they grow very big. The largest Snakehead species can become up to one metre long, and the other species will also reach a considerable size which can make them hard to keep for many aquarists. If you do not have a very large aquarium, you must make sure that you buy some of the smallest Snakehead species. You should refrain from buying a Snakehead if your fish food budget is small, since they need a lot of food, preferably live fish. Adult Snakeheads are territorial, and will often prove impossible to keep together unless the aquarium is large enough for each individual to claim its own territory. 

The different Snakehead species will all have their own requirements, but all Snakeheads prefer planted aquariums with plenty of hiding spaces. Plants are important if you want your Snakeheads to spawn, since most Snakehead species are plant spawners. To make the setup safe for the Snakehead, you should secure all decorations firmly and place the rocks directly on the glass bottom of the aquarium. Do not keep your Snakehead with any fish that could be considered prey. Any fish that is smaller than 2/3 of the Snakehead's size will most likely be eaten. If the fish is too large to swallow, the Snakehead will simply eat chunks of it and consume it that way. 

The most suitable food for a Snakehead is live fish, but they can be trained onto dead food. Once you have made your Snakehead realise that dead things can be tasty too, it will eat almost anything you give it. Some Snakeheads will even try to taste dead things like aquarium heaters. A Snakehead requires a lot of food, and will produce a lot of waste products. Large water changes must therefore be performed regularly. Changing 50 percent of the water once a week is a good rule of thumb, but the Snakehead is quite sturdy and usually survives even in poor water conditions. It will also accept most pH levels (within reasonable limits of course). Keeping the water temperatures up is important, since the Snakehead is a tropical species. You must keep the Snakehead in an aquarium where it can reach the surface to breathe oxygen from the air, otherwise it will drown. Only a very young Snakehead is capable of absorbing oxygen from the water. It is however important to cover the aquarium, since the Snakehead is a strong jumper.

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