tigerfish is a fierce and wily creature that demands respect from all forms
of life that may happen across its path and is regarded by majority as
being the best freshwater game fish in Africa.
In this page you will find: the description, distribution & Habitat,
general behavior, breeding patterns, lifecycles and a look at the feeding
habits of the tigerfish of the upper Zambezi.
tigerfish is best described by its Latin scientific name Hydrocynus
vittatus which when translated means “Striped Water dog” - a most
fitting description indeed.
tigerfish has a blue-silver fusiform shaped body with red & yellow
pointed fins which have black trailing edges. The head is large with
extremely bony cheeks and jaws. The 8 teeth per jaw are conical &
extremely sharp and are used more for grasping prey than tearing bits of
flesh from it. These teeth are replaced at intervals throughout the
tigerfish’s life. Males and females are similar in form and coloring but
males are generally smaller reaching +_ 500mm at maturity while the
females are much larger reaching over 700mm at maturity. Tigerfish Found
in the fast flowing waters of the Upper Zambezi
can reach 10kg in weight.
tigerfish is found mostly in the warmer, well oxygenated fresh waters of Southern Africa and are most abundant in the Zambezi, Okavango
and Pongola river systems.
Tigerfish are also found in the Congo River,
Lake Tanganyika and some other North and
West Africa river systems.
tigerfish is an aggressive predator that relies on other fish as its staple
diet for most of its life. Only when the tigerfish is really young does
it feed on small insects, crustaceans and plankton. The tigerfish moves
and hunts in like size shoals and only the larger specimens are found
living on their own. The reason “like size” fish shoal together is
because a tiger will not hesitate to make a meal of a smaller version of
the species if the opportunity was to present itself.
very little is known about the breeding patterns of the tigerfish of the
upper Zambezi, it is thought to occur
over the flood period when waters are the highest from March, April and
May. Spawning occurs on the flooded banks of the main channel and
backwaters. Fecundity is high within this species so it’s a good thing a
large female can lay as much 780 000 ova. Males reach sexual maturity
between the ages of 2-3 years while a breeding female will exceed
400mm. In the first year of
development a young tiger can grow as much as 160mm – 200mm, and up to
300mm in its second.
habits and patterns
I have been trying to drum into anybody who reads this website is the
fact that the Upper Zambezi stretch
between Vic falls and Katima Mulilo is a constantly changing environment.
For half the year we have rising waters and for the other half we have
receding, this means the tigerfish have to be constantly changing their
feeding patterns to stay in line with water levels, water clarity, and
the different variety of food that becomes available to them as the