Murrels (family Channidae), also known as snakeheads, are the third most important group of freshwater fishes in India after carps and catfishes. Murrels are the most common and dominant group of air breathing freshwater fishes and are highly regarded as food fish in India. On the roof of the pharynx, murrels have a pair of cavities which have folded linings, richly supplied with blood vessels for taking in air. These organs enable these fishes to survive out of water for a few hours or migrate from one pool to another.
In addition to their value as food, murrel are important in biological control of mosquito larvae and aquatic insect populations in stagnant water pools, helping to protect human beings. They are also well known game fishes as they are easily attracted by lures and caught by the fish by anglers, providing both entertainment for the public and income for those involved in organising such sports.
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