Snakeheadzilla? Fishzilla? NOT! The Giant Snakehead fish is beautiful and intelligent as well
Anecdotes and Behavior
The Snakehead fish, so much horror and gore it has generated.
We get documentaries touting their power especially the invasives that have penetrated into the United States river systems.
As far as we are made to understand, these are of both the Northern and Giant Snakehead varieties.
Coined words such as 'snakezilla', a throwback to the idea of Godzilla famed from Japanese cartoons of yester years.
There have even been movies made of this menace, of giants that can crawl out of the water and attacking peacefully sleeping campers. (and I meant movies about snakeheads doing that, although Godzilla did the exact same thing ironically :) )
You can even go to any popular online video streaming tool and look the word up, where more than likely you will get the video of some fish that is shown attacking a live fish, often ripping it apart and devouring whatever was left in its mouth.
Well I say ekkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk... (u know... like wrong answer!)
Let me paint to you my experience with the Snakehead fish.
Now I used to have a pet snakehead, actually I had 2 in the same fish tank but the other one died unfortunately.
These guys were of the Giant Snakehead variety. They tend to have like an orangy and whitish grey coloring with black stripes from the head to the tail. Pretty actually.
As they grow older and finally reach maturity, they get into a striped black on silvery glistening background type coloring which looks pretty awesome.
If you are into non-English script, sometimes the stripes (which tend to be asymmetrical) can look like the script of a particular language which makes it even more tantalizing.
Anyway, lets face it, the Giant Snakehead is a beautiful fish but quite the predator. These guys will gorge themselves, and I mean gorge.
Their stomachs can get pretty bloated if there is too much food about so do be careful feeding them when they are young cos you will find yourself worrying their stomachs will explode!
Having said that though, its actually ok to have a lot of live food in with them. I mean seriously! Yeah there is a thrill that overwhelms you when you come home from work, look at your fish tank of snakehead empty of any other fish and you introducing the poor fishies that are destined for their tummies.
To make it easy, give em something bite size...
To get it dramatic, give em something almost as big as them...
And then you will see this ferocious energy suddenly exploding out of these voracious predators (I think they should have been called the hungry-all-the-time-and-will-eat-even-though-their-stomachs-will-explode fish rather than Snakehead fish!) and you feel satisfied like you just saw one of the main events at the Colloseum of Ancient Rome.
Heres the deal though, the Snakehead fish is probably like any other predator, if you train him to wait for food, of course he is going to rip it apart, its freaking hungry man! Try keeping yourself from not eating and see what happens to you!
So it IS actually possible to keep them tame. Relatively I meant.
So back to my pet Giant Snakehead fish. The one that remained alive I mean, I named him Joe.
Joe was a beautiful fish (he died a couple of years ago unfortunately). I bought him when he was like 3 or 4 inches long and about the size of my little finger.
When he died he was probably a good 2 or 3 feet long with a girth of maybe a good size human arm and probably was 5 human years old or so.
See Joe had always been the more aggressive of the 2 and maybe that was why he survived. No he dint kill the other one, it just died cos of some illness.
Incidentally as well, the Snakehead fish can indeed live with its own kind but you have to make sure you actually buy them together from the same fish tank at the pet store and ensure there is enough space for them in your own fish tank.
They should also be about the same size else the big one may just eat the small one! (Remember the name I think the Snakehead fish should have been called?) But I digress.
On top of beauty, the Giant Snakehead is a smart fish. This fish can reverse for e.g. There arent very many fish that can go reverse, it may seem a trivial point but it shows great maneuverability.
It also has the ability to stop and remain motionless while you are looking at him! Most other fish will get all excited and try to flee to another part of the fish tank. Not Joe, not my Giant Snakehead fish.
Its also like a dog almost cos you can go to the fish tank and call his name and he will go to where you are and look at you. Almost like he knows you are talking to him. Yeah thats right.
AND he will remain there as long as you are there. There is a certain bond you can definitely create with a Giant Snakehead fish which you most likely will not be able to have with other fish.
Perhaps the most mind boggling of all, if you have this kind of relationship with your Giant Snakehead fish, there is little trouble putting your hand in the fish tank WHILE HE IS ALSO IN THERE.
You know if you need to clean it or whatever. Of course you want to make sure he is well fed and that he knows what you are doing.
Dont do silly things like smacking the outside of the fish tank or agitating him in some way before you put your hand in there (which by the way is a general rule for any fish anyway, not just for snakehead fishies).
Two unforgettable memories about Joe remain vivid in my mind.
There was one time I fed him grey
It turned out he doesnt really like grey ones, at least not as food. He does, however, love white Tilapias which is the second memory.
This first memory was how he ate all the grey Tilapias except for one.
I had no idea why.
I figured he dint like this particular grey Tilapia so I started buying other live fish, Catfish, white Tilapia, some anchovy like bait fish (which I dont really know the name).
My Giant Snakehead fish, The Joe Meister, took out all of these but kept the grey guy with him. In fact the grey dude fed on his scraps and soon enough he became quite big. Still, Joe dint touch him and this went on a while.
It was almost like my pet Giant Snakehead fish decided to keep his own pet grey Tilapia!!
One fine day though, may be the grey guy got too big, or maybe too cocky, no idea what it was, but I found him quite dead. Joe kicked his butt but did not eat him. At least thats what I thought, he may have in fact died by himself for some reason.
Either way, the body of the grey Tilapia was quite whole. Joe left him alone and in fact hung out on the other side of the fish tank, believe it or not. How could a Giant Snakehead fish leave a good morsel of food lying around and not eat it right !?
Now does that sound like a snakeheadzilla to you?
The second memory involved just sheer intelligence.
I decided to have two kinds of bait fish for Joe. One, the anchovy like fish, and the other, the white Tilapia. The white Tilapia were decently smart as they tried to school underneath the anchovy like fish.
All the while Joes big shadow fell over all of em (yeah by this time my Giant Snakehead fish was fairly large, probably 2 feet or so in length).
I remembered this quite vividly because indeed I just came back from work, sat on the sofa and was just watching.
Joe would swim into the anchovy like fish shoal, almost like trying to break them up and see whats there. He was obviously looking for the white Tilapia that were cleverly swimming underneath.
He did this a couple of times. Finally, he went to the opposite end and slowly came back to the shoal, almost like not wanting to alarm them.
Then, in one crazy fast move, this 2 foot long Giant Snakehead fish of mine, dipped THROUGH the anchovy like fish shoal, reached under them to get to the white Tilapia, and ate one!
It was totally amazing!
Now if thats not intelligence, I dont know what is. Joe clearly chose his food, even planned how he was going to do it.
Bet you are totally surprised now about Snakehead fish right?
To me my Joe was a beautiful fish. It was a pity that he died but I guess we all will at some point.
Fish Satisfaction Index (FSI)
Thats right, I came up with my own criteria on how satisfying a fish is in some way, I am calling it FSI. How? Well in the following way:
This fish is relatively easy to care for. Since it only eats live food, filtration is not that hard. However, instead of fish doodoo, you tend to have a lot of fish bones and things in the filter.
You can keep it well fed by ensuring there is enough live food in the fish tank with it. It can get choosy though on what fish it may like to eat, this can change over time.
To make it easy for you, try using feed fish that do not shed too many scales or else your filtration system will get clogged up fast!
What you do need to watch out for is the splash factor. This fish tends to do 'rush attacks' so water can spill out of your aquarium easily. Keep the floor around it carpet free for easy mopping.
If you are the 'starve-your-fish-to-see-it-in-action-when-feeding' type. Be warned, this fish may end up breaking your aquarium out of sheer hunger if you feed it irregularly!
Very nice and glistening once mature.
The Snakehead Fish is a reputed sport fish. Many fishing enthusiasts think they should be raised to the same league as Bass fishing in the US.
9/10 - More than anything, the intelligence of this fish makes it more than just something beautiful in your fish tank, its like having a true pet fish (like a dog or a cat).
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