Common name: trahira
Synonyms and Other Names: guabina, traira, South American snakehead, tigerfish, tiger characin, tararura, haimara, wolf fish.
available through www.itis.gov
Identification: Distinguishing characteristics, key, and photographs appeared in Géry (1977). A color photograph of live fish is available in Axelrod et al. (1985). Given its wide native distribution and geographic variation, it is likely that Hoplias malabaricus represents a species complex.
Size: 50 cm SL.
Native Range: Tropical and subtropical America from Costa Rica to Argentina, including the island of Trinidad (Taphorn 1992; Planquette et al. 1996).
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Hoplias malabaricus are found here.
Table last updated 2/27/2023
† Populations may not be currently present.
Means of Introduction: This introduction represented either releases or escapes from a fish farm (Courtenay, personal communication).
Status: Formerly established in Hillsborough County, Florida. No specimens have been collected since January 1977; presumably species was extirpated by extremely cold temperatures during that month (Courtenay and Hensley 1979). Shafland et al. (2008) recently surveyed for this species and found no specimens.
Impact of Introduction: According to Courtenay (personal communication), Florida Hoplias were causing severe injuries to native centrarchids, especially Lepomis species.
References: (click for full references)
Axelrod, H.R., W.E. Burgess, N. Pronek, and J.G. Walls. 1985. Dr. Axelrod's atlas of freshwater aquarium fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Courtenay, W.R., Jr. - Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL.
Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979. Survey of introduced non-native fishes. Phase I Report. Introduced exotic fishes in North America: status 1979. Report Submitted to National Fishery Research Laboratory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.
Géry, J. 1977. Characoids of the world. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Hensley, D.A. 1976. Collection of postlarval and juvenile Hoplias malabaricus (Characoidei: Erythrinidae) in Florida. Florida Scientist 39(4):236-238.
Hensley, D.A., and D.P. Moody. 1975. Occurrence and possible establishment of Hoplias malabaricus (Characoidei; Erythrinidae) in Florida. Florida Scientist 38(2):122-128.
Planquette, P., P. Keith, and P.-Y. Le Bail. 1996. Atlas des poissons d'eau douce de Guyane. Tome 1. Collection Patrimoines Naturels 22. Publications scientifiques du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
Shafland, P.L., K.B. Gestring and M.S. Stanford. 2008. Florida’s exotic freshwater fishes – 2007. Florida Scientist 71:220-245
Taphorn, D.C. 1992. The characiform fishes of the Apure River drainage, Venezuela. BioLlania (Guanare, Venezuela), special edition 4.
Leo Nico, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus
Revision Date: 7/31/2019
Peer Review Date: 10/4/2012
Leo Nico, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus, 2023, Hoplias malabaricus (Bloch, 1794): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=673, Revision Date: 7/31/2019, Peer Review Date: 10/4/2012, Access Date: 6/3/2023
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.