Bowfin vs Snakehead
Bowfin and snakehead are predatory freshwater fish that look similar to each other due to their long body and large dorsal fins. People in the eastern United States often mistake them for each other because they are the same here. However, when we compare the bowfin and snakehead, while the bowfin is a native of North America, the snakehead is actually an invasive species originating from Asia and Africa.
Despite their outwardly similar appearance, they are not at all related to each other. From an evolutionary point of view, they are actually quite different. This is reflected in their taxonomic classification. Bowfin is a member of the Amiiformes (and the only living species in it). In fact, it is more closely related to the gars, a long freshwater or brackish order of fish found in North America. Snakeheads (with a total of about 25 species) are members of the Anabantiformes order. They are more closely related to a group of fish called gourami; these are Asian fish with a rounded body, able to partially breathe air, because they swim in oxygen-poor waters.
This article will explore the main differences between a bow and a snakehead. While they are completely unrelated, the differences and similarities between them are interesting and instructive. For example, both types of fish can breathe air to cope with low oxygen levels, albeit in different ways. Their bodies also differ in several key aspects. This is especially useful information if you are looking to catch or study these freshwater fish.
Bowfins vs Snakeheads Comparison
Here’s a quick rundown of the main differences between a bow and a snakehead.
|The size||20 to 43 inches (50 to 109 cm)||5 to 40 inches (13 to 101 cm)|
|Distribution||Eastern United States||Africa and Asia (also imported to the US)|
|Habitat||Slow rivers, lakes, swamps and brackish water||Rivers and lakes; may also migrate briefly by land|
|Number of species||Only one||About 25|
|Body shape||Long body with short anal fin and eye||Long body with large anal fin and no eye patch|
5 key differences between Bowfins and Snakeheads
1. Bowfin vs Snakehead: Location
Bowfin is native to the eastern United States, while snakeheads are native to Asia and, less commonly, Africa. Their range does not overlap at all, except in cases where the snakehead was deliberately introduced into the eastern United States and became an invasive species.
2. Bowfin vs. Snakehead: Eyespot
Males or young fins (and rarely adult females) have a black spot on the hind tail surrounded by an orange or yellow border that resembles an eye. This eye spot is designed to confuse or distract predators so the fish can escape quickly. While some snakehead species also have an eye patch (or even two eye spots) somewhere on the body, this is not the case for the northern snakehead, the most common invasive species in the United States.
3. Bowfin vs Snakehead: Anal Fin
As the name suggests, the anal fin is located at the bottom of the fish, near the anus and belly. This helps give the fish some stability while swimming. Bowfin has a relatively short anal fin, while snakehead has a much longer anal fin – almost half the length of its entire body.
4. Bowfin vs Snakehead: Pelvic Fin
The pelvic fin is also located at the bottom of the fish, just in front of the anal fin. At the bowfin, it is located exactly in the center of the body. But in the snakehead, it is located much closer to the head. It is probably moved forward to accommodate the entire length of the anal fin.
five. Bowfin vs Snakehead: Head Composition
While it may not be obvious at first glance, the bowfin has a bone plate between the lower jaws. In the snakehead, this function is completely absent. Instead, he has large scales on his head. The name of the fish gives it away. While the snakehead resembles a snake, the bulb’s head resembles a more traditional fish.
Bowfin vs. Snakehead: 5 Key Differences FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What’s the difference between Bowfin and Snakehead?
Both types of fish are often mistaken for each other in the United States due to their similar body shape. Fortunately, a bowfin can be distinguished from a snakehead by a shorter anal fin, a pelvic fin in the middle of the body, a black spot on the back of the tail (at least in males or juveniles), and rather a bony plate. than scales on the head. It also hails from the slow-moving or brackish waters of the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Snakeheads are native to Asia and parts of Africa; several species have been introduced into American waters, where they have caused some damage to native species, overtaking them for resources. The northern snakehead is firmly established in the Potomac River. It has also been seen in Hawaii, California, Virginia, Rhode Island, and other states. This led many Americans to mistake them for each other. But in fact, it’s a complete coincidence that they look alike at all.
Are snakeheads and bulbs closely related?
No, they are not related at all. In fact, they are separated by more than 100 million years of evolution. In other words, the last time they had a common ancestor was when dinosaurs walked the planet. This is reflected in their taxonomic classification. They don’t even belong to the same orders: the bulb belongs to the Amiiformes order, and the snakehead belongs to the Anabantiformes order.