Channa gachua, Hamilton, 1822
Origin: Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Sunda Islands, India and Pakistan. Here the fish can be found in virtually every type of water, from swamps to irrigation channels. The fish in the right picture has been caught angling in an irrigation channel in the vicinity of Islamabad, Pakistan. Temperatures in winter drop below the freezing point there!
Synonyms:Ophiocephalus gachua, Channa orientalis(mislabelled)
First European import:1929
Description: See picture, variable species, some are bright orange and blue, others are greyish with little color. The difference with Channa orientalis is that the latter has no ventral fins, and has larger, but fewer, offspring.
Care: As long as the fish are small(less than15 cm), two pairs can be kept in a meter tank. Larger fish should be kept in pairs in an 80 cm tank or larger. Channa gachua can be combined with other fish, as long as they are larger than half their own size. Channa gachua should be kept in a well filtered tank, with some current, densely planted sides and back, and some holes for the fish to hide in. The fish are pretty indifferent to watervalues, as long as the water isn't too hard .
Temperature: 10-28 degrees
Feeding: Live and frozen food, earthworms!
Size: Up to 25 cm, usually the fish remain smaller in an aquarium, around 15 cm.
Breeding: A well fed pair in a large tank with suitable breeding places(large holes) will usually start to breed without any intervention. Large waterchanges with colder water(similar to Corydoras species) will trigger spawning. Baensch and Riehl report that the fish can be spawned at 15 cm, but in my case the fish spawned at around 12 cm. Both pairs in a meter tank spawned at exact the same time. The fry(0.8 cm)are released after a period of mouthbreeding, and are long after cared for by the parents.
Sexual dimorphism: None
Additional: Whether or not Channa gachua and Channa orientalis are different species remains debatable. In Betta patoti fishes with and without ventral fins can be found, and the author found Betta splendens spawns where some fish also had no or only a single ventral fin.
Picture references:Picture 1: R. Huysmans & E. Naus, a Channa gachua caught in the vicinity of Islamabad, Pakistan.
References:Baensch, H. A., Riehl, R.(1982): Aquarien Atlas I. Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.(click on the link to buy this book)
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