Giant snakehead Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 22, 2022

The giant snakehead is a freshwater fish that originates from Africa. It is a predatory fish that can grow to be over 3 feet long!

Despite their size, they are actually a popular fish for home aquariums. They are hardy and can be easy to care for if you know what you are doing.

However, there are a few things you need to know before you get one of these fish. In this guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about giant snakehead care.

Species overview

Giant snakeheads (Channa micropeltes) are a type of freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia. They are most commonly found in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.

These fish get their name from their long, snake-like body and their large size. They can grow to be up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 15 pounds!

Giant snakeheads are carnivores and primarily eat other fish. In the wild, they have been known to eat birds, mammals, and even reptiles!

Due to their large size and carnivorous diet, giant snakeheads are not a good choice for most home aquariums. They require a lot of space and can be very aggressive toward other tank mates.


Giant snakehead

The Giant Snakehead is an impressive freshwater fish that can reach up to 4 feet in length! As their name suggests, these fish have a long snake-like body that is covered in large scales.

They are a dark brown color with a lighter cream/white underside. Giant Snakeheads have large eyes and a wide mouth full of sharp teeth.

Their dorsal and anal fins are both long and extend the length of their body. The Giant Snakehead also has a long, forked caudal fin.


In the wild, giant snakeheads can live for up to 10 years. But in captivity, they often don’t make it past the 6-year mark.

Giant snakeheads are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Even small fluctuations can cause stress which, over time, will take a toll on their health and shorten their lifespan.


The Giant Snakehead can grow to be a whooping 4 feet long! But in aquariums, they are typically much smaller with most only reaching about 2 feet in length.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for one giant snakehead is 125 gallons. If you want to keep more than one fish, you’ll need to add at least another 75 gallons for each additional fish.

As you can see, these fish get pretty big and need a lot of space to move around and stay healthy.

Water Parameters

The giant snakehead is a freshwater fish that is native to parts of Africa and Asia. In the wild, they can be found in slow-moving rivers and swamps.

They’re a hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. That includes temperature, pH, and hardness. However, they do prefer water on the warmer side with a slightly higher pH.

Here are some general guidelines for giant snakehead care.

  • Water Temperature: 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH Levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4 to 8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up the inside of an aquarium for a Giant Snakehead you have a few different options.

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want a heavily planted tank or not. These fish are known to eat plants, so it’s really up to you whether you want to take that risk.

If you do decide to go with plants, then we recommend something that can grow relatively fast (to keep up with the damage). Hornwort, Water Wisteria, and Java Moss are all great choices.

Another option is to forgo plants altogether and just stick with some driftwood and rocks. This is the route we recommend if you’re not confident in your ability to keep plants alive.

The substrate in their tank can be either sand or gravel. We recommend sand if you can manage it since it’s easier on their fins and doesn’t get caught up in their gills as easily.

Common Diseases

The Giant Snakehead is a pretty hardy fish, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick. There are a few diseases that these fish are particularly susceptible to.

The most common one is definitely ich. This is a parasites that affects freshwater fish of all kinds, and the Giant Snakehead is no exception.

The best way to treat ich is to raise the temperature of the water in your tank. This will speed up the life cycle of the parasite and make it easier to get rid of.

Other potential diseases include mouth fungus, fin rot, and bacteria infections. As with ich, the best way to prevent these is to maintain clean and stable water conditions in your tank.

If you notice any changes in your fish’s behavior or appearance, it’s always best to consult a vet or professional to get a diagnosis.

Behavior & Temperament

The Giant Snakehead is a predatory fish that is not to be underestimated. It is a top-level predator in the wild and will hunt anything that it can fit into its mouth. This includes other fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds.

In the aquarium, they will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths. This includes other fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. They have even been known to attack and eat human fingers!

Giant Snakeheads are not recommended for the home aquarium unless you are an experienced fish keeper and are prepared to deal with their aggressive behavior.

Tank Mates

Giant snakeheads are not community fish. They are best kept alone or with other snakeheads.

The only time you might be able to get away with housing a giant snakehead with other fish is if you have a very large tank and the other fish are too big to be eaten.

Even then, it’s not recommended.

The reason for this is that giant snakeheads are aggressive and territorial. They are also known to be cannibalistic, so keeping them with other snakeheads is often not a good idea either.

The bottom line is that you’re better off keeping a giant snakehead alone. If you must add tank mates, make sure they are much larger than the snakehead and that you have a very large tank.


The giant snakehead is a mouth-brooding species, which means that the female will hold the eggs in her mouth until they hatch. The entire process takes about three weeks.

Before breeding, you need to set up a suitable tank. It should be at least 200 gallons and well-filtered. The water should be warm, around 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be neutral to slightly acidic.

You also need to add plenty of hiding places. These fish are timid and need a lot of cover. Drifting wood, plants, and rocks will all do the trick.

When ready, add two females for every male. The ratio is important because males can be quite aggressive.

Feed the fish plenty of high-quality foods. Once they’re well-fed, the females will start to lay eggs. The males will then fertilize them.

Once the eggs are fertilized, the female will pick them up in her mouth and hold them there. She will not eat during this time.

After three weeks, the eggs will hatch and the fry will be released into the water. The fry are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp and other small foods.

You can remove the adults at this point or keep them in the tank. If you decide to keep them, just be aware that they might eat the fry.


The Giant Snakehead is a fascinating fish that is sure to turn heads in your aquarium. They are large, predatory fish that can grow to be over three feet long!

They are not for the faint of heart, but if you have the space and the dedication to care for them, they can make for an amazing addition to your aquarium.

Just be sure to do your research before you decide to get one, as they are a high-maintenance fish that requires a lot of care and attention.