Snakehead Fish

snakehead fishThe Northern Snakehead is native to the waters of China, and possibly Korea and Russia. They are found in a wide variety of habitats and can breathe out of water from three to seven days. Even though it is slow and typically unsuccessful, the Snakehead has the ability to move from one body of water to another by using its pectoral fins. They have sharp teeth like a pickerel or a pike and their maximum length can reach up to 33 inches. Coloration is generally tan with dark brown mottling. Snakehead have no natural predators in the U.S. and they are voracious carnivores. If you catch this fish, do not put it back in the water and call the nearest DNR Operations Service Center.

Need more help learning how to identify this invasive fish? Check out this video which shows you the physical differences between snakeheads and bowfins.

This video was produced by Michigan Out of Doors TV.

Michigan species commonly mistaken as a snakehead fish
mudpuppy Mudpuppies are large, permanently aquatic salamanders with flattened tails and reddish gills behind their heads. Body color is brown or gray-brown with darker, scattered blotches. This harmless creature is found state wide and has declined in population size. They are often destroyed by people who catch them while fishing. Click here for more information on Mudpuppies.

bowfinThe most easily recognizable characteristic of the Bowfin is the black spot at the base of the tail. It is generally tan and olive in appearance and its maximum length can reach 32 inches. The Bowfin has an air bladder as a lung, which is not found in most fish. While the snakefish has an extended anal fin, the bowfin's are short. Bowfin habitat is in open marshes and along rivers and lakes.

burbotThis Michigan native reaches about 15 inches in length. It is yellow, light brown, or tan, becoming darker northward; the background color is overlaid by a lacelike pattern of dark brown or black. In many inland lakes the color may be uniformly dark brown or black. Its characteristic barbel on the lower jaw and split dorsal fin separate this species from the Snakehead.

Longnose Gar
Longnose garThis ferocious looking fish is native only to North America's fresh and brackish waters. It can grow up to 6 feet, and is distinguished by a long snout with nostrils at the tip. Teeth are very abundant throughout the snout. Adults are usually soft olive to dark green on the back and upper sides, lateral surfaces are pale green or silver with white below.

Some graphics courtesy of Joseph R. Tomelleri and copyrighted.