RE: NANFA--Snakeheads and Pacu

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (
Thu, 25 Sep 2003 14:07:33 -0500

Sajjad posted:
Snakehead' Found in Wis.'s Rock River

Steffen replied:
>>>...There are channa species from the Amur River in
Siberia. Those will survive everywhere. Even some asian species from the
sock of the Himalaya can tolerate degrees below 00 C for a certain time.<<<

Jan responds:

The Wisconsin DNR has an excellent fact sheet, photograph, and news release
regarding this incident. The snakehead was apparently Channa micropeltes,
the "giant" or red snakehead, a tropical, sub-tropical species. The size of
the snakehead suggested that it had been in the river a long time, possibly
exploiting power plant discharges as thermal refugia. Another item not
reported in the story posted by Sajjad was the concern expressed that
Wisconsin should join 15 other states (and the District of Columbia) in
banning the possession and trade of snakeheads.

Coincidentally, this morning, I received a forwarded (private) email from a
USGS employee. He found a pair of snakeheads (probably northern) in a
Missouri pet shop. The pet shop workers were trying to breed the animals
and exploit recent interest in the species!

...and on a personal note....

Tyler Strange (LA-NANFA member), Dena (my wife) and I were in a large pet
outlet Sunday afternoon when a woman came in carrying two plastic tropical
fish bags The kind used for guppies, gouramies, and mollies). Each
contained a large (175-200 mm) pacu. She asked the clerk if the store would
take them back so she would not have to let them go. The store said "no."
We said "yes." I ran (literally) to the nearby discount store to buy a
large cooler. Dena and Tyler stayed in the pet store, went to the equine
department, pulled a horse-manure tub off the shelf, filled it with aquarium
water, and put the fish in it. I came back (winded), transferred the fish
to the cooler. That evening, we set them up at Waterways Experiment Station
in a flume that is currently inhabited by some other South American fishes
we have recently collected in the southern United States.

The woman in the pet store had bought the pacu, along with two oscars, when
they were small, and stocked a 55-gal tank with them. In a little over a
year, they were too large for the aquarium and she did not know what to do
with them. To her credit, she tried to find a home for them, but had
someone not been there to take them, and explain why you cannot release
exotic fish, they may have been prowling the Pearl River.

Mississippi has the distinction of quite a few recent pacu records (5 from
the Pascagoula River!). This is how they get there.

Clearly, the message of not releasing exotic fishes is not getting through
to the general public.
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