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The snakehead fish is a freshwater member of the Channidae family, native to Asia and Africa. It is a long predator fish distinguished by its long dorsal fins, large mouth, and teeth. While the snakehead fish is prized as a food source, they are also an invasive species, intentionally released in non-native areas, including the Potomac River.
Facts About the Snakehead Fish;
- When snakehead fish are young, snakehead fish consume plankton, insects, and mollusks, but as adults they consume other fish, frogs, and the occasional small mammal, such as rats.
- Snakehead fish are classified as top-level predators and can breathe outside of the water, surviving on land for as long as four days provided they stay wet.
- Snakehead fish have been known to migrate across land as much as one-quarter of a mile and were dubbed "fishzilla" by National Geographic.
Since 2002, it has been illegal to possess a live snakehead in the United States. As they are prized for food, illegal importation has been problematic. For example, one Los Angeles supermarket illegally imported and sold $25,000 worth of live snakeheads in 2002 and 2003, some of which made their way into local water systems.
Snakeheads have been known to grow over six feet in length and its teeth are razor-sharp. The largest specimen ever caught weighed over 17 pounds, taken from a Virginia tributary of the Potomac River.