, Volume 661, Issue 1, pp 123–131 | Cite as

Individual growth and reproductive behavior in a newly established population of northern snakehead (Channa argus), Potomac River, USA

  • Andrew M. Gascho LandisEmail author
  • Nicolas W. R. Lapointe
  • Paul L. Angermeier
Primary research paper


Northern snakehead (Channa argus) were first found in the Potomac River in 2004. In 2007, we documented feeding and reproductive behavior to better understand how this species is performing in this novel environment. From April to October, we used electrofishing surveys to collect data on growth, condition, and gonad weight of adult fish. Growth rates of young were measured on a daily basis for several weeks. Mean length-at-age for Potomac River northern snakehead was lower than for fish from China, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Fish condition was above average during spring and fall, but below average in summer. Below-average condition corresponded to periods of high spawning activity. Gonadosomatic index indicated that females began spawning at the end of April and continued through August. Peak spawning occurred at the beginning of June when average temperatures reached 26°C. Larval fish growth rate, after the transition to exogenous feeding, was 2.3 (SD ± 0.7) mm (total length, TL) per day. Although Potomac River northern snakehead exhibited lower overall growth rates when compared to other populations, these fish demonstrated plasticity in timing of reproduction and rapid larval growth rates. Such life history characteristics likely contribute to the success of northern snakehead in its new environment and limit managers’ options for significant control of its invasion.


Channa argus Gonadosomatic index Virginia von Bertalanffy 



We are grateful to John Odenkirk and VDGIF for sharing their northern snakehead data. We appreciate help in the field and lab from Ryan Saylor, Eric Tobin, David Belkosky, Lluis Benejam Vidal, and Filipa Filipe. Eric Yu translated the Chinese literature. Ryan Hunter provided helpful comments. Fort Belvoir marina allowed convenient access to our study sites. Northern snakehead were collected under a Virginia Tech IACUC permit (06-198, 08-048) and a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries collection permit: (30241 [2006, 2007], 34045 [2008]). Use of trade names or commercial products does not imply endorsement by the U.S. government. The Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is jointly sponsored by U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Wildlife Management Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew M. Gascho Landis
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nicolas W. R. Lapointe
    • 1
  • Paul L. Angermeier
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and Wildlife SciencesVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries and Allied AquacultureAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  3. 3.Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitUnited States Geological SurveyBlacksburgUSA

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