Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Goliath Tigerfish

The Goliath Tigerfish, Hydrocynus goliath, really does live up to its name.

It’s a pretty nasty looking creature that would be terrifying to run into while taking a leisurely swim.  Being a freshwater game fish, the Goliath Tigerfish is native to the Congo River basin, the Lualaba River, Lake Upemba and Lake Tanganyika in Africa.
The Goliath Tigerfish is the largest member of the Tigerfish family.  This monster fish is a fierce predator with dagger like teeth.

The largest Goliath Tigerfish on record was almost 5 feet long and weighed nearly 154 pounds.  It can outswim and outpower all other African game fish.  On average most Goliath Tigerfish weigh between 90 and 132 pounds.
 The Goliath Tigerfish has been known to attack humans  on very rare occasions, and many locals say that it is the only fish that is not afraid of crocodiles and in fact actually eats smaller crocodiles.

The Goliath Tigerfish has an olive colored back and a silvery underbelly, but if you see one of these beasts the color of the fish probably won’t be something you’ll be paying much attention to.  The mouth full of 32 jagged razor like teeth, 14 or more being on the top jaw, will catch and hold your attention.  The creature hardly has any lips compared to most fish, that have rather large lips, and when its jaw slams down on prey, it’s a clean, almost surgical cut. That, in combination with its muscular body, make it the perfect killing machine.
 The Goliath Tigerfish makes a Piranha look harmless.  This ferocious fish has been known to go after a 60-pound catfish and literally slice it in half.  It has excellent eyesight and has the ability to sense low frequency vibrations emitted by prey, which makes escape almost impossible.  The life span for this monster in the wild is unknown, but they’ve been known to live 10 to 15 years in captivity.

Due to the size and power of this fish, fishermen love the thrill of catching one.  In order to catch this giant behemoth though, you will have to buy some heavy-duty equipment, such as sharp enough hooks to be able to penetrate the jaw.  Once hooked you must be prepared to fight them for what seems like hours.  They will strike just about any kind of bait that resembles fish, be it live bait or lures.  If you’re lucky enough, your hook will set deep enough to survive the Goliath’s head thrashing.  When it leaps out of the water fishermen have to be sure to angle down their fishing rod so that the tip doesn’t snap off.  This is a fish that won’t allow you to make any mistakes.

Let’s hope that this fearsome behemoth never becomes established in U.S. waters by aquarists who find that it quickly outgrows their aquarium tanks.  Fortunately, at this time the Tigerfish species is considered difficult to keep and is recommended only for advanced aquarists. 

Submitted by Jaimie Sansoucie, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist


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