A northern snakehead fish (Channa argus) has been caught for the first time in Queen Anne’s County, MD, and this revelation has the state’s Department of Natural Resources worried. The fish, an invasive species that has no known predators, was caught in a private pond and the DNR found seven more specimens in the pond, including a sub-adult, leading authorities to believe that the fish is reproducing and may have been in the pond for years.
DNR Fisheries Biologist Joe Love is unsure how the fish got in the pond, noting that the location in which it was found was fairly distant from Prospect Bay. “Whether they were introduced or somehow got there on their own is not clear,” Love said.
The snakehead fish was imported from China and was first discovered in Maryland in 2001 in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The fish has spread fairly rapidly and can be found in the Potomac, Patuxent, Nanticoke, Wicomico, and Blackwater Rivers. It grows to more than 33 inches in length and can live in water temperatures from 32-85°F. This fish is a prolific breeder, with the females releasing up to 100,000 eggs with each spawn, which can occur multiple times a year. They feed on everything from fishes to crustaceans to amphibians and have been known to decimate local fish populations where they occur.
In Maryland, the DNR encourages anyone who catches a snakehead to kill it. and report where they caught it to the DNR at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-260-8325.