Channa lipor, a new species of snakehead of the C. gachua species-group, is described based on 11 specimens from Meghalaya, Northeast India. It is distinguished from its congeners by possessing an orange, bronze-brown dorsum and fins, 9–12 black spots or blotches on the dorsal-fin sub-margin appearing parallel along the length of the dorsal-fin base, six oblique brown bars on the upper half on the flank, presence of seven gray to brown zigzag bands on the caudal fin, and fewer anal-fin rays. Channa lipor, new species, morphologically resembles C. aurantipectoralis, but the partial cox1 gene sequences reveal a genetic distance of 12.6–13.1% between them, and Channa lipor, new species, also possesses deep sequence divergence from any known populations of C. gachua. It differs from the topotypic C. gachua by having fewer anal-fin rays (20 vs. 22–24), fewer dorsal-fin rays (29–32 vs. 34–36), and fewer pectoral-fin rays (12–14 vs. 15–17), and in tooth pattern, by having the fifth ceratobranchial curved with four rows of teeth, outer row with 11 thick teeth; palatine with three rows of curved teeth, inner row with 14 large inwardly curved teeth; and dentary with long canine-like teeth in the posterior end.
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Vol. 107 • No. 1