snakeheads keeping conditions


Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 29, 2006
Channa spec "Kerala"

Channa spec Kerala is also known as Channa spec. 5 Stripe (or 5 banded snakehead) or Channa umangii!

The name umangii is given by an exporter from India in memory to his son ,who died, but it is not scientific!

This species name "Kerala" is a lttle bit confusing........
As far as I know,the fish is not from Kerala!
It was chosen to make a secret about the habitat by the guy you catched it first........
He do not want any other people catching this fish.......

Channa spec Kerala is a subtropical species that prefer cooler temperatures about 18-24°C
They belong to the Ch.stewartii/aurantimaculata group!
The name 5 banded comes from the stripes this fish has on its back........
But I also have seen speciemen with 6 stripes as well!
Sometimes the stripes may fade a little bit........
They need a tank about 1m x 40cm x 40cm for a couple (minimum size)
It can normally reach a size of about 22-24cm........but some time ago I recieved a picture of a single fish that has reached a size of about 27cm........

The 5 banded snakehead is sometimes available in lfs!

They like well structured tanks because they might fight and like to hide......
If you have adults its is not difficult to sex them........
Males normally have a higher dorsal fin and the whtie strpe on the fin is thicker than the stripe of the female!
If they like to breed they can change their colour .........fins bekomming nearly black with a greenish shade........the white stripe starts glowing and underaneth the eye there is sometimes a golden stripe........
the spawning of the 5 banded is sometimes very rough and fin damadges are the result!
They are mouthbrouders and start breeding when the temperature is around 20°C-23°C
I have breed them several times yet!

They feed their babies with unfertilized they grow fast.......
The baby colour change at a size of about 4cm then they look nearly as the adults do!

Channa spec Kerala is easily to feed.......I feed my one on shrimps,frozen fish,worms,insects,maggots and so on!
Baby fish can be fed with small frozen food ,too!

A problem of this species is catching them out of the aquarium.......
They are very good jumpers and when they are scared they jump like hell!
Also they dig themselves into the gravel or sand .........faster than you can see!
If I put them into bags.....I first put the fish in..........and then the water!
Otherwise it may happen that they jump out again like a Jo-Jo!

Channa spec Kerala can Change its colour when it is extemly stressed out....
I will post some pictures of one fish of mine.........The colour was so extreme,that I never thought it is the same fish!

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Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 29, 2006
And here are the pictures of the stressed one.........

After a while,and after taking it out of the tank and seperate it, the fish has changed its colour back to normal!

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Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 29, 2006
Channa lucia

This species was discribed by Cuvier, 1831
The english name of the fish is splendid snakehead
It can be found in Malaysia,Borneo,Sumatra,Thailand and should also be present in Myanmar,Cambodia and Laos!(I think it is introduced there)
I was told,that in Thailand the so called Pla Kasong is one of the most tasty snakeheads and highly recommended as a food fish.They are common to almost every kind of water (blackwater and clearwater)

The maximum Size they can reach is about 50 cm,but normally they reach a size of about 40-45cm in captivity.
Because of their size,they should be kept in a tank,not smaller than 150 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm (375 L)

Juvenile wildcaught fish were almost very shy in the beginning,but this will change,if they are growing..........
All of the lucias I kept were feeding byhand after a while......but as bigger they get,as more carefull you have to act,because of their big canin teeth!
I was bitten several times by mine.........and starting at a size of about 15cm it will bleed!
If you have settled down fish they are very curious........
Always swimming in front of the aquarium and begging for food!
My ones are jumping out of the water to get their food!

Channa lucia is often confused with Parachanna obscura........and yes,they might be quite similar!
But it is easy to make a difference!
The head of P. obscura is more wide from Cheek to cheek and also they have a stripe going right through the eye to the Gill Cover
Channa lucia always has a big blotch on the gill cover and the head is also sprinkled with tiny ones........
Also the area around the belly is more Zebra like painted!
In contrast to Parachanna obscura, Channa lucia is a quite active swimmer!
This species hides not as much as obscura.........

Channa lucia prefers darker light and and protection from above (floating plants) to feel well!
They sometimes may react on poor water quality,than they become innactive!
My first lucia I have recived 4 years ago died in the effect of an bacterial infeciton which I was not able to cure.........
I think,it was because of the different Water parameter I have used,depending on the water parameters of the habitat it comes from!
This fish was caught in soft acidic water in the Khao sok area in Thailand.......and i kept it in normal tab water which was harder.........
As I put the fish in quarantine,in softer water,the fish looked better again,but I think this was too late!

At the moment I am keeping 5 lucias from 3 different areas!
3 from Krabi in Thailand...........coming from harder water
1 from Nakkon Si Thammarat / Thailand .........harder water
1 from Malyasia Kuching area.....softer water

I think it is important to know were the fish are you can try to give the fish that water it belongs to!

The 3 Krabi one are together in a tank of 150cm x65cm x65cm.
The show nearly no aggression to each other, altough they all have different sizes!
the biggest one (a male for my opinion) has a size of nearly 28cm,the middle one (the female of the big one) is about 24cm and the smallest one,which I am not sure what it is (I think female) is about 20 cm
Mr. Big and Mrs Middle are always very close I hope they might breed this year.
The small one is more on its own.......
But they do not attack it hard.only threatening!

But I think this will change if they try to breed!

For my experience,you can put other species that do not look similar to Channa lucia in the same tank........
My first one was together with Channa pleuropthalma and they had have no problems!
But make sure your tank is big enough!
Because every fish needs space for its own!
At the moment my 3 ones are together with an very old (20 years) Synodontis catfish and a single Ch. melasoma (which is living in a pipe) of about 30cm
The do not harm each other!
But I will take the others out of the tank,if I see the lucias are spawning!

The best temperature for Channa lucia is about 24-26(28)°C-but his depends on were they are from!
If you have lucias from Myanmar or a northern part of Thailand they maybe like cooler temperatures!
Channa lucia also can be tropical or subtropical!
Inform yourself where they are from!

I keep mine at a temperature nearly constant around 26°C........and they are fine!
The habitat were they are from had the same temperature!

I have not breed them yet,because mine are still to small!
If I compare them with P. obscura they will be sexual matured if they have reached a size about 30 cm!
Because of their headshape they are no mouthbrouders and will have floating eggs!
So I think the breeding will be quite similar to P.obscura!

I am not sure how to sex them for 100%..........but I think that males may have more bright sport in the pectoral fins and also have a wider head!
Juvenile Ch. lucia look very similar to ch. it is not is to differentiate between them at the juvenile state!
Also I think there might be different types of colouration of Ch. lucia.......
But they can change their colour very strange also........I have seen stressed out lucias,that did not look like lucia at the first sight!

Here in Europe,exspecially in Germany,Ch. lucia is a very rare snakehead..........and if you be able to get one in the lfs you have to pay a lot for them!
The fist import I have seen were some baby lucias with a size of about 4 cm...and they should cost 65€ each!(Import from Myanmar)
I think they will be much more expensive in the U.K.,because every fish is super expensive there!

Channa lucia is a real good hunter,specialized on Fish........they attack very fast.......
But you also can feed them on insects,earthworms,shrimps and mussel!
I had no problem to bring my wildcaught fish to eat dead food!
I supply vitamines within the food once a week (all of my snakeheads get it)

Channa lucia is one of the most amazing snakeheads I have ever kept in my 11 years with snakeheads!

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Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 29, 2006
This are pictures of my first Ch. lucia............
It has had that bacterial can see it on the pictures!
I euthanase it.........

I do not know if the fish has brought the disease out of the wild..........or if it has happen because I I used different water!
The other fish ,that were with it,were all fine.......only he was sick!
Before I had kept it in tab water.everything was fine,too....I kept it in soft acidic water.........
The disease started in the tab water!
So I think it is important for that species to keep it in a good water quality that should be quite the same than in the natural habitat!

Also there are pictures I have made postmortem!

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Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 29, 2006
The last pics for today:

This is a lucia stressed out!
It changed its colour because of putting it into the Photo-shot aquarium from brownish to grey-silver!

This one was about 20cm in length

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Ole Dawg
MFK Member
Dec 28, 2006
Very much south..
Pascal, won't you go on with this fantastic thread?


MFK Member
Jul 30, 2008
Syracuse, NY
wow. great thread. alot of 411s. so, how many tanks/species do you keep?