Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Channa bleheri

Rainbow snakehead

Rainbow snakehead, Channa bleheriRainbow snakehead, Channa bleheri
Photos by Andy Rapson


Channa: Greek, channe, -es = an anchovy

General Notes:

One of the more peaceful snakeheads but Channa bleheri is still quite aggressive. They could be kept in a community tank with the right tank mates all of which have to be at least as big as Channa bleheri because smaller fish may be viewed as food. Channa bleheri probably does better in a species tank where they can be kept as a group if room permits although there will still be some minor fighting. Channa bleheri is extremely popular among aquarist due to its bright colouration and small size making it fairly unique among snakeheads which are normally large and quite drab.


A meaty diet is essential, Channa bleheri will accept live or frozen food such as chopped prawns, worms, pieces of fish such as lance fish. It is unlikely that any prepared dried food will be taken.


In groups of fish of the same age the males are said to grow faster than the females and are slightly more colourful. Adult females are plumper than adult males.


Channa bleheri is a bubble nest builder the male alone builds the nest but both parents place the eggs in the nest. Both parents protect the brood. Channa bleheri has been bred in captivity but this is a rare occurrence and reliable details are difficult to find.

Wild status

The wild population of Channa bleheri is classed as near threatened. This is due to a number of factors, this fish has quite a small range and all hill streams in the area are under threat from damming. The species is also under threat due to over exploitation from the aquarium trade. Recent population trends are unknown.

Information at a glance

pH: 6 - 7.5
dGH: 4 - 25
Temperature: 15 - 27°C (59 - 80°F)
Diet: Carnivore
Size: 13cm (5.5in)
Min tank size: 225 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Species
Swimming level: Lower

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Rainbow snakehead, Channa bleheri

Origin: Brahmaputra basin in Arunachal Pradesh and upper Assam Also found in the Dikrong River of Arunachal Pradesh with a restricted range of just over 20,000 km2.

Habitat: Hill streams.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Channidae
Genus: Channa
Species: C. bleheri. Vierke, 1991.

Common name:
Rainbow snakehead

Synonyms: None