The giant snakehead or giant mudfish (Channa micropeltes) is among the largest species in the family Channidae, capable of growing to 1.3 m (4.3 ft) in length and a weight of 20 kg (44 lb). It is native to the fresh waters of Southeast Asia (south Indian populations are now regarded as a separate species, C. diplogramma) but has also been introduced elsewhere, where considered invasive. Other names include red snakehead, redline snakehead, and ikan toman (where ikan is “fish” in Malay).

Approximate purchase size : 8 – 9cm

Temperature20 – 30 °C

pH6.0 – 8.0

Hardness30 – 350 ppm

Please note – The image used above is for illustration purposes only; Size, colour and sex may vary. Many of our livestock species are sold as juveniles and have not yet reached their full size and colour potential. If you have any concerns about the size or colour of the livestock you wish to order, please contact our livestock team via our support centre before placing your order. Due to the large quantities of livestock orders daily, the livestock team will are unable to select fish / shrimp to meet specific gender or aesthetic needs.

How easy are they to care for?

Best-maintained in a species-specific aquarium, but can apparently be maintained alongside similarly-sized fishes if sufficient space is available.

Juveniles and subadults are relatively peaceful with one another but become aggressive when they reach sexual maturity.

How large can they grow?

This fish can attain an size of 100 -130 cm

Where in the world are they from?
South East Asia

What is the ideal number to keep together?
1 Male with 2-3 Females is ideal. Avoid keeping multiple males unless in large aquariums


An obligate predator feeding on smaller fishes, amphibians, invertebrates and terrestrial insects in nature but in most cases adapts well to dead alternatives in captivity. Some specimens even accept dried foods though these should never form the staple diet.

Young fish can be offered chironomid larvae (bloodworm), small earthworms, chopped prawn and suchlike while adults will accept strips of fish flesh, whole prawns/shrimp, mussels, etc. Older individuals do not require feeding on a daily basis, with 2-3 times per week sufficient.

Can they be bred in captivity?

There does not appear to be any reliable method to sex this species by external means.

Captive breeding has been achieved but an enormous amount of space and investment is required simply in order to produce a large number of juveniles with little-to-no monetary value. In addition, this species is said not to become sexually mature until approximately two years of age, by which point it should measure 50-60 cm in length.

Little has been published regarding the reproductive activity of wild fish, but apparently adults form pairs in flooded areas or small streams with submerged vegetation at the onset of the wet season. Some sources state that they build a nest in which to spawn, others that the eggs float at the water surface until they hatch, with the latter most likely given that the same strategy has been observed in some congeners.

Whereas adults exhibit a colour pattern comprising a broad, dark longitudinal stripe, juveniles possess two black longitudinal stripes with a bright orange area between, and once free swimming are gregarious and highly mobile. Parental care is relatively extended and the adults are extremely aggressive in defending their brood, with wild fish occasionally injuring humans. Older juveniles have been observed to form large aggregations, presumably as a means to reduce the threat posed by predators.