Sorting Out Snakeheads

JONESBORO, Ar (KAIT) - These are a few ways to tell the difference between the Northern Snakehead and the Bowfin. If you catch a Northern Snakehead please contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and let them know what waters the fish was caught in. The AGFC will take care of destroying the fish.

Line drawing of bowfin
Line drawing of bowfin
  • Bowfin (Amia calva)
  • Typically found in swamps and backwater of sluggish rivers.
  • Can grow to 32 inch's long, they are tan-olive with dark olive pattern.
  • Jaws contain peg like teeth.
  • Black spot on the base of the tail.
  • Can breath air and withstand droughts by going dormant in the mud.
Line drawing of northern snakehead
Line drawing of northern snakehead
  • Northern Snakehead (Channa argus)
  • Native to China.
  • Can grow to up to 33 inch's long. Tan with dark brown mottling.
  • Jaws contain many small teeth like pike or prickerel.
  • Can breath air, go dormant in the mud during drought and can move short distances on land using their pectoral fins.
  • Can live out of water for up to 3 days in moist environment.

Arkansas Game And Fish phone Numbers:

(877) 734-4581 (Brinkley Office)

(501) 223-6371 (Little Rock Office)