Bullseye Snakehead: Channa marulius
Air-breathing, torpedo-shaped fish with flattened head and
toothed jaws; long anal and dorsal fins without spines; typically
red eyes; body color darkens with age to deep brown with black
blotches sometimes fringed with bright comma-shaped markings, and a
red-orange eyespot (ocellus) near the base of the tail. It
resembles a bowfin in behavior and appearance, but is distinguished
by a long anal fin.
The Bullseye Snakehead remain centered in the Margate/Coral
Springs/Pompano Beach area where it was first documented in October
2000. They will likely be limited to the southern half of Florida
since temperatures below 50oF are lethal. To the south this
population is bounded by the North New River Canal (G-15), L-36
Canal to the west, and the Hillsboro Canal (G-08) to the north.
This is the only area from which Snakeheads have been documented,
although FWC has received numerous reports of Bullseye Snakehead
elsewhere these have all turned out to be similar-looking native
fishes such as the Bowfin. Native range Pakistan, Malaysia, and
In canals, typically associated with overhanging shoreline
vegetation, dense submersed vegetation, and debris; tolerant of
stagnant waters due to air-breathing capabilities.
Spawning Habitats: Spawn primarily
from March through May with a secondary peak in August; adults
occasionally seen herding young in shallows until six inches long;
a sample of ripe females contained an average of 4,700 ready to
Feeding Habits: Bottom dwelling,
ambush predator that feeds primarily on small fish and crayfish,
but occasionally eats a wide variety of prey including turtles,
toads, lizards, snakes, and insects.
Age and Growth:
Largest collected in Florida by FWC was 31.5 inches and weighed
9.2 pounds; reports of this species commonly growing to more than
four feet and weights of 66 pounds erroneous; largest likely to get
about 15 pounds.
Good; have been caught on jerk baits and live baits; a popular
sportfish in its native range; no bag or size limits.
Excellent; even said to have medicinal benefits in its native
range by hastening the healing of wounds and internal injuries.
Fishing Tips and Facts: