Re: NANFA-- more on snakeheads

Christopher Scharpf (
Sat, 13 Jul 2002 15:48:39 -0400

>> One disturbing development, though: One of the local TV news programs
>> reported yesterday that area fish shops have experienced a run on snakeheads
>> and are currently sold out. Good grief!
> I don't know if it is disturbing.

It's disturbing to me. You and I both know these people are not buying up
snakeheads because they are dedicated aquarists with a genuine interest in
the family Channidae. They're buying them because they're suddenly a cool,
trendy fish to have. How many of these fish will be well cared for once they
get too big for their tanks?

> I seen on the TV here as well. They reported someone said they let them go
> in there. What is going on? I thought this specie was one that was sold as
> a food fish, not the ones in pet stores.

According to the Washington Post, the individual bought 2 northern
snakeheads from an Asian fish market in NYC to make soup for his ailing
sister. Northern snakeheads are prized in Hong Kong for their flavor and
curative properties. By the time the fish arrived, the sister had recovered,
so the man simply plopped them into an aquarium until they got too big.

Interestingly, the Baltimore Sun is not reporting this. Instead, the
Baltimore paper is saying that a "hobbyist" bought the snakeheads from New
York, with no mention of an ailing sister or an Asian fish market.
Apparently, the Wash. Post has a contact inside Maryland DNR, and even got
the person's name, but has not revealed it. On the news yesterday, Maryland
DNR was neither confirming nor denying reports that the fish were bought to
make soup. It was funny: Eric Schwaab, head of DNR Fisheries, referred to
the person as "he" in a TV interview, then quickly, and clumsily added, "I
mean, he...or...she!" My guess is that DNR is bending over backwards to
protect this person's identity.

> this newscast made me believe, but possibly was misinforming that this
> is a the species known as the red snakehead sold in almost all pet shops
> that carry something more than guppies and goldfish.

A lot of the b-roll footage shows red snakeheads taped from inside pet
shops. But the species from the pond has been confirmed as a northern
snakehead, usually not an aquarium species, but often sold in Asian fish

> Could it be this person who released them just said that to get their
> fifteen minutes of fame?

Since the person has remained anonymous, I doubt it.

> even if there are stiff penalties and time to be served for this action,
> someone may come forward and say they are the one that did it anyways.

There will be no penalities. Since the snakeheads were released over 2 years
ago, the statute of limitations has expired. Even if the person were able to
be charged, the penalty if a ticket and a measly $40 fine.

BTW, NANFA Board director Bob Bock has written an editorial about releasing
aquarium fishes that is appearing in the OpEd section of this Sunday's
Baltimore Sun.

Chris Scharpf
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