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
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
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
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 seasons change.