African tigerfish use their large, razor-sharp teeth to tear through prey. They eat whichever fish species is most abundant and have also been seen leaping out of the water to snag birds in flight during summer months.
  • Size

    3.5 feet (1.1 m)
  • Diet

    Fishes and occasionally small birds
  • Range

    Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Habitat

    Large rivers and lakes

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is silver overall with dark lines running through. Tail is red-tipped at the bottom edge with a black marking at the tip of the adipose dorsal fin and split of caudal fin.
  • Mouth has eight razor-sharp teeth per jaw used for tearing through prey. Teeth can be seen even when jaws are closed.
  • Common length of 3.5 feet (1.1 m), with a maximum weight of 62 lbs. (28 kg).

Animal Fact

African tigerfish have been known to leap out of the water to catch birds mid-flight.

Diet / Feeding

  • Hunts in loose schools and feeds on whichever 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.

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 large rivers and lakes.

Reproduction & Growth

  • An oviparous, or egg-laying species.
  • Breeding is usually in December and January each year when rain is heavy and the rivers and streams are high.
  • Participates in the spawning migration upstream. Females spawn a large amount of eggs in shallow water with the protection of 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.


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