Virginia Invasive Species

Northern Snakehead Fish

Northern Snakehead Fish

Image credit: Susan Trammell,

What is it?

A voracious predator, up to four feet long with sharp teeth and the ability to breath air as well as use gills.


Where's it from?

Northern China and eastern Russia


How did it get here?

Sold as live fish food at some markets, even in states where it is illegal to sell.


Where is it now?

It is now found in the Potomac River and many of its tributaries.


What's the harm?

Snakeheads have the potential to drastically alter freshwater ecosystems by out-competing native fish species, including many sport fish. It may also introduce yet another non-native species, a fungal disease that can harm native fish and stock in fish farms.


What's being done?

Continued monitoring of the population.


How can you learn more? How to identify a snakehead fish and what to do if you catch one: