Residents in Nantou County’s Yuchi Township (魚池) are calling on the county government to eradicate giant snakehead fish from Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) while they are still juveniles, as their population is set to explode this year.
The giant snakehead, or Channa micropeltes, is a carnivorous fish that can grow longer than 1.3m and weigh up to 24kg.
It is the most aggressive in the snakehead family, often swarming to prey on other fish, crustaceans, amphibians, small reptiles and even small birds and mammals.
Photo: Hsieh Chieh-yu, Taipei Times
Their numbers have grown rapidly since being introduced to Sun Moon Lake, threatening many indigenous species of fish and shrimp, and are expected to reach as many as 2,000 this year.
As opposed to the gray-black appearance of mature members of the species, juveniles are bright red-orange and clump together in large balls that float near the surface of the water.
The Nantou County Bureau of Agricultural Affairs last year cooperated with National Tsing Hua University on using electrofishing to catch the “fish balls.”
After being informed by fishers about juveniles appearing on the lake, the bureau on Saturday said that it sent personnel to round them up using the same method.
They were not as successful as last year, likely due to increased vigilance by the adults, it said.
They are hiding in deeper waters with more cover from aquatic plants and fallen branches, making it difficult for boats to approach and use electrofishing methods to nab them, it said.
The bureau said that it has asked fishers to wait until the fish move to more open waters.
Many people keep juvenile giant snakeheads due to their color, but release them into the wild after they become adults, where they become the “ecological assassins” of Sun Moon Lake, the bureau said, urging people not to release pets into the wild, regardless of the species.
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