Snakeheads are air-breathing freshwater fishes that are not native to North America. In scientific terms, snakeheads are divided into two distinct genera:
- Channa (snakeheads of Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia)
- Parachanna (African snakeheads)
In the summer of 2002 and again in late spring 2004, Channa argus, the northern snakehead, generated national media attention when anglers caught this fish in a pond in Maryland and, more recently, in the Potomac River in Maryland and Virginia. Fisheries scientists consider snakeheads to be invasive species because they have the potential to threaten native fishes, the recreational fishing industry, and aquatic ecosystems.
A mature northern snakehead female can carry as many as 50,000 eggs, although some will not develop and others will be eaten by insects and small fishes following fertilization. Depending on water temperature, eggs can hatch in about 24-48 hours.