Hydrocynus vittatus
Status: Least Concern
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Alestidae
Genus: Hydrocynus
tiervis or ngwesh
Description: The African tigerfish is overall silvery in colour, with thin black stripes running horizontally. It has an elongated body and a red, forked caudal fin with a black edge. Its head is large, as well as its teeth, of which there are eight per jaw. The teeth are sharp and conical which are used to grasp and chop prey. Males are larger and more full-bodied than females.

General Information

The African tigerfish is a predatory freshwater fish distributed throughout much of Africa.
Length: 105 cm

Fun Facts !

The African tigerfish are able to replace their teeth simultaneously on the upper and lower jaws. They are remarkably able to jump out of the water and catch insects and barn swallow birds.

Ecology and Behaviour

Tigerfish are an important food and income source for locals. Not only do they provide a natural source of protein, the presence of the fish also promotes tourism through recreational and sport fishing. As a result of their ecological and economic importance, African tigerfish have been extensively studied by conservation groups and university researchers.

Fishing

The African tigerfish promotes tourism through recreational and sport fishing.
The African tigerfish is generally a piscivore (feeds on fish) but it has been observed leaping out of the water and catching barn swallows in flight. These fish are fierce hunters and tend to eat whatever fish is most available. Smaller fish will hunt in large schools while larger African tigerfish hunt alone. Favoured prey fish include cichlids, gobies, carp, and clariid catfish. Insects and zooplankton may also be part of the African tigerfish's diet, especially during juvenile stages of life.

Reproduction and Spawning

The breeding habits of this fish are somewhat elusive but it is thought that breeding may take place over a couple of days during December or January. The timing depends on when the rivers and streams begin to swell due to the start of the rainy season. Females will lay their eggs in submerged vegetation in shallow water close to the shore. Hatchling African tigerfish will remain in the safety of the vegetation until the water levels become low enough to force them further into the water. These fish may migrate up to 100 km within the stream or river they inhabit.

Conservation

It is categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list as, " Least Concern ".
Trend: stable

Distribution and Habitat

The African tigerfish in Zambia can be found in Lake Bangweulu, Lake Mweru, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Kariba. As well as in the Luapula and Zambezi rivers. They mainly live near the bottom of the large freshwater rivers and lakes they inhabit. During the day they tend to be found closer to the surface and then move towards the bottom at night. They thrive in highly oxygenated water in warm climates.

Human Interaction and Pet Trade

Due to its ferocious appearance, people may be tempted to keep the African tigerfish as a pet. However, this is generally not recommended and should only be attempted by those with advanced skills in keeping freshwater aquariums. These fish can get extremely large and require at least a 2400 L tank. They do not get along well with any fish smaller than them (even of their own species) since smaller fish make up a majority of their diet. As they grow larger, these fish can become very difficult to handle. This is especially true because of their aggressive nature and sharp teeth. Anyone set on having one needs to check the local wildlife laws to determine if import of this fish is legal.

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