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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • River Scout

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia, and south to South Africa; Congo River Basin, lower Guinea, Lake Tanganyika and West Africa.
  • Found in warm, well oxygenated water, primarily in larger rivers and lakes. 

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is evenly grey on the body and silver on the under belly; tail is red tipped at the bottom edge; black marking at the tip of the adipose dorsal fin and split of caudal fin.
  • Mouth is lined with razor-sharp teeth for tearing through prey.
  • Common length of 3.4 feet (1.1 m), with a maximum weight of 62 lbs. (28 kg).

Diet / Feeding

  • Hunts in loose schools and feeds on whatever fish species are in abundance.
  • Often will follow schools of migrating prey species long distances up and down rivers.
  • May feed on small birds during summer months.

Reproduction / Growth

  • An oviparous, or egg-laying species.
  • Breeding takes play a few days, usually in December and January, each year when plentiful rains have swollen the rivers and streams.
  • Participates in the spawning migration up stream. The females spawn a large amount of eggs in shallow water in protection of the grass stems and other submerged vegetation.
  • Juveniles will live among submerged vegetation until the water level decreases forcing juveniles out into open waters.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Forms schools of like-sized fish.
  • Have been known to leap out of the water to eat barn swallows flying over the water.
    • Can instinctively spot the fast-flying bird from the water, exceed the bird’s speed, compensate for refraction, and leap out of the water while the bird is in flight. 
  • Important source of protein and income for local people.
  • Top predator, in its range, and prized game fish for locals and ambitious anglers.