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View Full Version : Dwarf Channa, eh?



Illusionist
05-14-2014, 12:29 AM
Been thinking of getting one for my planted tank in the future, because community fish are bound to get boring in the long run.
Never had a predator fish before, but I can assume what to expect to a degree... Would a Dwarf Channa be a good pick for a planted tank? Been reading up briefly about them, they're apparently peaceful to a degree, and do well in a planted tank.
If it's a good choice, where would I get a few?
As well: Would they eat plecos? I'm guessing they would eat kuhli loaches without hesitation probably. Been thinking that angelfish are getting a bit boring, especially the majority of fish in my tanks at the moment... I'll see what may happen later on. Thanks for reading.

LittleFoot
05-14-2014, 09:50 AM
I had a dwarf and he was extremely timid and never came out of hiding! Good to have in pairs. Mine hardly attacked feeder minnows lol

Illusionist
05-14-2014, 10:30 AM
Guess that could be a good thing... as long they eat, I can just buy shrimp rings from sobeys.. good deal for me, and have the ability to put other fish in the tank with 'em!

DevonC
05-14-2014, 05:16 PM
I keep several species , they are highly terretorial and agressive if being kept in good conditions. However they are timid when stressed.

Typically can be kept solo or in pairs , however they must choose a mate so for a pair you must get them young and start with 5-6 minimum to allow the dominate female to choose a male. Introducing adults together or starting with only 2 almost always results in one killing the other, also its best to assume that if/when a pair forms the rest of the group will get killed off very quickly.

They do not do well with tank mates , being highly territorial they will kill everything they can , if they hit a tank mate they cannot kill they become very stressed and will waste away in hiding. They see anything they can't rip apart as a threat.

On top of that most dwarfs are subtropical requiring lower temps abd a seasonal cool down for long term survival that many other species wont tolerate.

They are best kept in heavily planted low light & low flow tanks. They are very intelligent they will recognize their owners and have individual personalities so if your willing to except a species only its very rewarding fish to keep. Also very hearty if kept properlly , but do very poorly if under stress .

I may actually have a few C.Bleheri for sale soon, my group has paired off and nests are built. They are going through the motions I'm just not sure if they are mature enough yet to produce fry. I have a pair of C. Gachua as well but the females very agressive so i'm not sure she'll allow the male to breed this year.

Hope that helps!

DevonC
05-14-2014, 05:30 PM
Wanted to add , although it's a commonly used food , frozen shrimp really should never be used as a staple. Fresh shrimp is fine but once frozen shrimp is very high in thiamese , cooked shrimp eliminates that problem but once cooked the nutritional value is much lower.

Illusionist
05-14-2014, 05:37 PM
I have a lot to learn about snake heads as it seems.. Thanks for the heads up though.

DevonC
05-14-2014, 05:58 PM
Be careful when researching snakeheads Many if not most sites list inaccurate or misleading care information.

Im always willing to talk about snakeheads though ! I think everyone should have at least one lol. So if you have any questions , or want help finding a species just ask, I'd be happy to help!

Illusionist
05-14-2014, 06:07 PM
Hm.. where to start...

With the dwarf snakehead, a 130 gallon would be good enough I suppose, right?
Would I be able to take a less dominant female and pair it with a male? Or only the most aggressive.
What would be the best stable food to feed them? Or just regular fish I guess. I did hear about goldfish having something in them making it harder to digest or absorb nutrients from them when eaten.. not 100% sure if that's true.
I'm sure that driftwood, lots of plants as you've stated is good for them, however floating plants maybe not, since they need access to the surface to breathe when older.
And.. how much would a dwarf snakehead cost? Because needing six just to find one pair sounds expensive.

Redherring
05-14-2014, 06:28 PM
Snakeheads are beautiful! Whenever Devon posts pictures I catch myself being tempted, even though I am a small fish person. Good luck with the project!

Illusionist
05-14-2014, 06:32 PM
Snakeheads are beautiful! Whenever Devon posts pictures I catch myself being tempted, even though I am a small fish person. Good luck with the project!
Thanks, I'll need it lol... I find that most small fish are boring in the long run, especially minnows. Angelfish aren't too bad, but I've owned them like Lucifer for over eight years going on nine now. So change would be nice.. etc, etc.

Redherring
05-14-2014, 06:39 PM
Thanks, I'll need it lol... I find that most small fish are boring in the long run, especially minnows. Angelfish aren't too bad, but I've owned them like Lucifer for over eight years going on nine now. So change would be nice.. etc, etc.

Haha, I find dwarf cichlids anything but boring! But if you are attracted to larger fish snakeheads are a fascinating, and Devon is an amazing source of information.

Illusionist
05-14-2014, 06:53 PM
Haha, I find dwarf cichlids anything but boring! But if you are attracted to larger fish snakeheads are a fascinating, and Devon is an amazing source of information.
Never went into cichlids, maybe look into some types that don't dig plants up... The snakehead is a breath of fresh air to me, never had one like it. But if they're proven to be aggressive to everything, even including kuhli loaches, and BN plecos, then I may change my mind. Otherwise, I still need to do some research. As well I'm just waiting for him to answer the first line of questions, He does sound like he knows what he's talking about.

DevonC
05-14-2014, 07:55 PM
Thanks Red,

As for the questions yes, 130g is plenty of space for dwarf to medium sized snakeheads , coujd keep any species up to ~ 14" , solo or as a pair. I keep my smaller dwarves like gachua or bleheri in 35 g tanks as a min size.

Loaches are actually come fron the sane waters and are a natural prey item , snakeheads will eat them. I also advise against plecos snakeheads can and more often then not will kill them.

You are right buying a group to get a pair can be pricey , but unfortunatly there us no way around it. They really do need to choose a mate. You wont find docile ones , in a group one always becomes dominate , if removed another quickly takes its place . Sexing when young is also almost impossible , do by the tine they can be sexed they are too mature to be paired.

Feeding varries depending on species , most if the smaller subtropical species will do best on a diet high in insect feeders, but chopped up fish/shellfish or pellets are other options, there are other species (mostly larger /tropical ones) are piscavores and do best on a diet of fish. Goldfish are also high in thiamese
even when live . Without gettin too much into it Thiamese in the diet lead basically interfears with calcuim absorption leading to deficiencies, kinked spines or other bone structure defects are the end result .

Cost wise it depends on species , lower ebd of the spectrum your looking at ~30 each , and it can climb from there depending on species. All are WC and seasonal so availability varries based on the on time if year.

Floating cover us a Must , tank should be at least 50% covered with floating plants , full cover end to end is even better. It wont interfere with breathing and without it they become stressed.

DevonC
05-14-2014, 08:36 PM
Sorry for all the typos, Computer is dead , and these damn phones were not designed for people with big fingers lol

Im also slow at typing on this thing so i loose the ability to edit while trying to fix my mistakes lol

69maritime
05-14-2014, 08:54 PM
Sorry to Hijack the thread. Devon is there any books you can think of about specific Channa? Or Channa in general for that matter. I am trying to piece info together from different sites about the pleuros. I want to know my stuff before I get them. Also, I sent you a pm last week, I'm assuming your comp troubles are frustrating.

DevonC
05-14-2014, 09:37 PM
So far as i know only one book has been published in regards to care of channa and is only available in german.

I must have missed your pm , sorry , e-mail is the best way to contact me devon.cartier@gmail.com. Feel free to fire off an e-mail. I'm sure I can answer any questions u have about pleuros, they are unique snakeheads, much of what applies to caring for other snakeheads is the flip opposite for pleuros.

Illusionist
05-14-2014, 10:02 PM
Sounds like I'll need to get a canister filter for the 130 then, helps to not push floating plants under... I'm guessing to keep the tank clean with snakeheads, good old sponge and careful not to get algae blooms?

I would add more but I'm on my phone as well.. with big ole fingers don't help lol.

DevonC
05-14-2014, 10:46 PM
Algae blooms normally are not and issue because floating cover will both block light and suckk up nitrates much faster then any other plant or algae.

Canisters or sponge filters are the way to go , cannot use HOBs with snakeheads as it leaves an easy escape route.

The top of tank needs to be escape proofed, screen covers work well because you need the air access but cannot leave any holes or cracks or they WILL escape. They are not at a afraid to go crawling on land. They can jump with incredible accuracy and even climb up the side of a tank
like a snake with ease. Any crack or hole that they can fit their head through will be found and used to escape the tank !

Illusionist
05-15-2014, 11:59 AM
Thanks Red,

As for the questions yes, 130g is plenty of space for dwarf to medium sized snakeheads , coujd keep any species up to ~ 14" , solo or as a pair. I keep my smaller dwarves like gachua or bleheri in 35 g tanks as a min size.

Loaches are actually come fron the sane waters and are a natural prey item , snakeheads will eat them. I also advise against plecos snakeheads can and more often then not will kill them.

You are right buying a group to get a pair can be pricey , but unfortunatly there us no way around it. They really do need to choose a mate. You wont find docile ones , in a group one always becomes dominate , if removed another quickly takes its place . Sexing when young is also almost impossible , do by the tine they can be sexed they are too mature to be paired.

Feeding varries depending on species , most if the smaller subtropical species will do best on a diet high in insect feeders, but chopped up fish/shellfish or pellets are other options, there are other species (mostly larger /tropical ones) are piscavores and do best on a diet of fish. Goldfish are also high in thiamese
even when live . Without gettin too much into it Thiamese in the diet lead basically interfears with calcuim absorption leading to deficiencies, kinked spines or other bone structure defects are the end result .

Cost wise it depends on species , lower ebd of the spectrum your looking at ~30 each , and it can climb from there depending on species. All are WC and seasonal so availability varries based on the on time if year.

Floating cover us a Must , tank should be at least 50% covered with floating plants , full cover end to end is even better. It wont interfere with breathing and without it they become stressed.

That sucks, I was looking forward to having some loaches along the bottom, but I would rather not have them devoured as a snack. I'm guessing using snails would be a good alternative for algae eaters with snakeheads?

Alright, so would meal worms work by chance? Or what do you usually feed yours? Wowzers! 30 dollars isn't much, but buying six or more to get just a single pair is a little expensive.. but required.


Algae blooms normally are not and issue because floating cover will both block light and suckk up nitrates much faster then any other plant or algae.

Canisters or sponge filters are the way to go , cannot use HOBs with snakeheads as it leaves an easy escape route.

The top of tank needs to be escape proofed, screen covers work well because you need the air access but cannot leave any holes or cracks or they WILL escape. They are not at a afraid to go crawling on land. They can jump with incredible accuracy and even climb up the side of a tank
like a snake with ease. Any crack or hole that they can fit their head through will be found and used to escape the tank !

Guess I'm off on a good start with floating plants.. A lot of water lettuce as it is lol. The cover that the guy has with the tank is just plexi glass that's layed down on the top, I'm going to guess that it isn't secure enough, eh? As well even if it was secure, it needs to be open like a grid so air can get in more? A little worried about evaporation if that's the case but so be it.

DevonC
05-15-2014, 05:43 PM
They love to ear snails as well lol Tour best aglea control option is elbow grease, luckily algea grows slowly because of floating cover, also its nornally brown algea which whipes pff easily.

Meal worns are perfect , i breed meal worms so they are my staple feeder making up most of their diet. Occasionally i'll give some trout chow (pellets) and chopped up smelt, they'll get baby cichlids from time to time when i have too many fry and In the summer ill mix in earth worms, june bugs and grass hoppers as well but I don't recommed you do that unless your sure its a clean area to collect them.

Plexi glass top is probably fine, the cracks between panes will probably be enough ventilation. Keep in mind live floaters will also help keep the air quality up so it does not take a lot of ventilation.

If it leaves no air flow at all then you can just drill a few 1/4 holes in it for a bit of ventilation. Also dobt fill the tank , you shoukd keave leave a gap of 2-3" of air for them. Evaporation is not as bad as you would the tank is not heated.

Any idea what type you would like to keep yet ??

Illusionist
05-15-2014, 06:07 PM
They love to ear snails as well lol Tour best aglea control option is elbow grease, luckily algea grows slowly because of floating cover, also its nornally brown algea which whipes pff easily.

Meal worns are perfect , i breed meal worms so they are my staple feeder making up most of their diet. Occasionally i'll give some trout chow (pellets) and chopped up smelt, they'll get baby cichlids from time to time when i have too many fry and In the summer ill mix in earth worms, june bugs and grass hoppers as well but I don't recommed you do that unless your sure its a clean area to collect them.

Plexi glass top is probably fine, the cracks between panes will probably be enough ventilation. Keep in mind live floaters will also help keep the air quality up so it does not take a lot of ventilation.

If it leaves no air flow at all then you can just drill a few 1/4 holes in it for a bit of ventilation. Also dobt fill the tank , you shoukd keave leave a gap of 2-3" of air for them. Evaporation is not as bad as you would the tank is not heated.

Any idea what type you would like to keep yet ??
Jesus, guess that's a tough pick for me.. lol. Fair enough, I've dealt with brown algae before.

Can't be that hard to breed mealworms.. I've bred crickets myself when I had geckos.. Glad that mealworms can't jump and hop all over the place at least.

I'll show you a picture of the top sometime when I get it. It's rather old and may need a new cover.. still debating if I should bother with a new one, or make do with what's there. I'm assuming the gap in the tank so if they do jump, they lose a bit of the force from the space of air to the hood?

I'm looking into Parachanna obscuras, or even a Channa Bleheris, they look a bit pretty. They don't grow very big, maybe could even house a few of them without the "There can be only one" attitude... I'll need to keep continuing to do research. I'm looking into the dwarfs, aka: Snakeheads under 12 inches.. even 10. I prefer to have them a bit smaller, more room for themselves, as well less food needing to feed them.. lol.

DevonC
05-15-2014, 06:58 PM
Crickets would work just as well but i find them harder to breed better at escaping and and annoying lol. meal worms are very easy to breed , container with 1-2" of oatmeal , slice of carrot or potato for a water source and thats it. Warmer you keep them the faster they breed, and the Beetles they turn into are flightless and cannot climb smooth surfaces so no escapes.

You would think more space with smaller species would help but in the end the results are the same. with more space the rejected ones might have a better chance if hiding to avoid death but they wont be allowed to move out if hiding or to get any food to grow. They fall further and furth behind growth wise , eventually You will end up asduming they have been killed with only the occasional sighting as a tiny one races up for air before running back to hiding until one day it gets caught in the act by the dominate fish and killed.

Bleheri max out about 8" . They prefer temperatures on the colder end of the subtropical range and an insect diet . They are very colorful welll ( i have pics if mine posted here).

You'll read they are docile but that is not true . The only time they seem docile is if they are stressed out . Normally this is from being kept at tropical temperatures . They are sensitive to high temperatures , any extended amout of time in higher temps and it makes then timid and lethargic eventually they die typically from a very agressive bacterial/fungal infection. Kept cool they are very bold little monsters and once they mature a pair will hunt down the rest once breeding starts.

Obscura will get over a foot ~14" , They are fully are tropical species so the tank would need to be heated. They are also more of a piscavore so diet ideally would include more chopped fish then Insects.

Hope that helps !

Illusionist
05-15-2014, 07:06 PM
That does help. ... Well, that's how they do in nature I suppose... I think I may hold off on them till I use the 55 gallon again, since I would prefer some variety of fish with the 130 gallon. That seems fair. I'll look into Bleheris' then, nice colour and decent size without being too big.

Edit: I do like the Bleheris channa a lot though, very pretty again. I would probably prefer to buy a pair instead of buying six to only get two in the outcome... Thank you for your help.

DevonC
05-15-2014, 07:17 PM
Sounds like a good plan, they would be just as happy in A 55g its still plenty of space!

DevonC
05-15-2014, 07:33 PM
Ya would be great to buy a pair and skip the losses but you'll never find an already formed pair for sale.

Did you consider just going with one solo ? A snakehead kept alone automatically is king of there own world so they grow fast show dominate colors and become very personable.

Also I feel I should warn you even with a group there is no guarntee a pair will form, more often then not you still end up with a solo fish who doesnt except a mate and kills everyone off. Its also not unusual for a pair to form , live happily all year only to turn on eachother when breeding season starts again resulting in a solo fish. This is why 99.99% of them are WC , getting a true pair is not easy at all.


I'm not trying to discourage you from trying, just though id give fair warning because I know how frustrating it is when they rip each other apart !

Illusionist
05-15-2014, 08:04 PM
I'm slightly discouraged of the facts of life when looking into snakeheads. Either way, Someday. That being the case, I think I'll just get one that's just as colourful and and about ten inches. Do they prefer the length and width, more than the height of a tank? I think it wouldn't hurt to try to get a pair.. When I win the lottery, just buy twenty of them and hope the best.

On a side note, is it smart to feed angelfish mealworms?

DevonC
05-15-2014, 08:43 PM
Oops double post

DevonC
05-15-2014, 08:45 PM
Yes footprint is what matters, height does not at all. They dont need depth at all , my tanks are only filled 2/3 of the way.

It wont hurt angels as a treat or occasional feeder but i wouldnt feed
them too much of it as mealworms are very high in fat.

Illusionist
05-15-2014, 09:15 PM
Oh, just like bloodworms, fair enough. Just trying to see if I can give them different foods besides flake.