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Occurrence of Malabar Snakehead, Channa diplogramma (Perciformes: Channidae) from River Valapattanam, Western Ghats of Kerala, India

DOI: 10.1155/2014/145056

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We report the occurrence of Channa diplogramma in the Valapattanam River in March 2013 and this study adds to the species record of C. diplogramma in terms of diversity and range distribution in the River Valapattanam and South India. 1. Introduction Freshwater snakehead fishes of the family Channidae have widespread distribution in the tropics [1], represented by 38 species, of which 35 are of the Asian genus Channa [2] and three of the African genus Parachanna [1, 3, 4]. The Western Ghats biodiversity of India extends along the west coast and is crisscrossed with many streams, which form the major rivers draining water to the plains of Peninsular India [5]. The freshwater fish diversity in the Western Ghats hotspots is very high [6], with 320 species belonging to 212 endemic species 47% being under Threatened or Near Threatened categories and 23% being under Data Deficient or Not Evaluated categories [7]. The Valapattanam River is one of the west-flowing Rivers in the Western Ghats region of India and the main tributaries are Srikandapurampuzha, Bavalipuzha, Venipuzha, and Aralampuzha. In this paper, we report the occurrence and biometric characteristics of C. diplogramma (Day 1865) [8] from the river Valapattanam, Western Ghats of Kerala, India. 2. Materials and Methods A specimen of C. diplogramma (Figure 1) was caught with an encircling net (length 50 meter; height 1.5 meter; mesh size 0.8?mm) from the River Valapattanam, northern Kerala (11.93° N, 75.30° E) on 15 March 2013. The morphometric measurements of the formalin-preserved specimen were measured with a Vernier calliper to the nearest 0.1 millimetres and weighed to the nearest 0.01 gram using an electric balance (Sartorius-GD-603). The morphometric measurements and meristic counts were made by following Ng et al. [9]. Measurements of body parts are reported as percentage of standard length (%SL) and measurements of subunits of head are reported as percentage of head length (%HL). The specimen was preserved in 4% formaldehyde solution and deposited in the Museum of the Faculty of Fisheries, College of Fisheries, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Panangad, Kerala, India (FRM-CH-DIP/2013-1). Figure 1: Channa diplogramma caught from the River Valapattanam (lateral view). 3. Results and Discussion Channa diplogramma was first described as Ophiocephalus diplogramma (Day 1865) based on one juvenile specimen (42?mm in length) collected near the mouth of the Cochin estuary in the port city of Cochin (Kerala, India). The close similarity of this juvenile specimen with C. micropeltes,

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