Bullseye Snakehead
(Channa marulius)

Origin:

Tropical Asia (Pakistan to southern China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos)

Introduction to Florida:

Unknown, perhaps as a foodfish

Stage on Invasion Curve:

Resource Protection and Long-Term Management

Description

The bullseye snakehead (Channa marulius) has a flattened head with large scales, a torpedo-shaped body, long dorsal and anal fins without spines, and toothed jaws. Nearly all adults have a black dot surrounded with red or orange on the top part of the caudal (tail) fin. Most have blotches of dark scales flecked in white along the side of the body. The largest documented bullseye snakehead weighed more than 14 pounds (37 inches) but anglers typically catch ones weighing between 3 and 6 pounds (23–28 inches). The bullseye snakehead resembles the native Florida bowfin (Amia calva), but has a longer anal fin.

Impacts

Bullseye snakeheads are predators that eat a wide range of animals: mainly small fish and crayfish, also cane toads, lizards, snakes, small turtles, and snails. This wide diet helps the bullseye snakehead survive in Florida, but also may reduce its impact on any particular native species. The bullseye snakehead may threaten native fish species through competition for food and habitat, but major impacts have not been documented. They can breathe air (but cannot crawl on land), which may allow them to occupy habitats with poor water quality not suitable for many native fish species.

Where to Find Them

Bullseye snakeheads are found in freshwater canals in northern Broward County and southern Palm Beach County. Bullseye snakeheads die at water temperatures below 50 degrees, which limits their distribution to South Florida.

Distribution Maps

What You Can Do

You can help control this exotic fish population!

  1. Go fishing for bullseye snakehead.
  2. If you catch one, do not release it! Immediately place it on ice or humanely euthanize it.
  3. Eat it! Bullseye snakehead is good to eat and has a mild taste.
  4. Report your bullseye snakehead catches to the FWC:
  • Take a picture with your phone, and note the location.
  • Call 1-888-397-1517 to report snail sightings.
  • Always wash your hands and produce before consumption.
  • Do not move plants or plant material from areas infested with the snail.

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