Nile Perch (Victoria Perch) – Export, Threats, Invasive Species and More

Nile Perch (Victoria Perch) – Export, Threats, Invasive Species and More

Nile Perch ‘’Lates niloticus’’, a.k.a the Goliath perch, Goliath barramundi, the Giant lates or the Victoria perch, African snook, and African giant perch, is an indigen of fresh-water fish in the clan of Latidae of order Percomorpha. It is widely distributed throughout the majority of the African peninsula. It is a bloodline to the Nile, Senegal, Congo, Niger, Lake Chad, Lake Turkana, lake Volta, and several watershed.  It also forms in the saline adam’s ale of Lake Maryut found in Egypt. The Nile Perch is of exponential economic and food-reliability importance in East Africa. Initially reported as Labrus niloticus in the Marine Ballan circle, the species has also been known as Centropomus niloticus. Standard denominations include Victoria perch (a misplaced trade tag because the species is not an indigen to Lake Victoria, it was just introduced by the British) and African snook. Many locals called it several names in various African tongues, such as the “Luo name mputa or mbuta.” In Tanzania, it is referred to as “sangara, chenku, or sankara.” In the french-speaking African territories, it is called “capitaine.” The Hausas call it “giwan ruwa,” which stands for “water elephant.”


Juvenile Nile Perch (Lates niloticus)
Nile perch drawing: Juvenile Nile Perch (Lates niloticus)

Descriptively, Nile Perch is silver in complexion with a blue stain, distinctive dark-black eyes, with a bright-yellow exterior disc. Fishes of this species reach a maximum length of two meters (6 feet ft 7 inches), making them one of the substantial freshwater fishes. Nile Perch typically grows to a height of 1.21–1.37 m (4feet 0 inches –4 feet 6 inches), although they’re often caught before they reach the size. The Nile Perch is a fierce predator with 100% occupancy of the oxygen concentrated areas of the lake, while weaker fishes are restricted to shallow waters and nearby environments. It feeds on everything, including its kind, such as crustaceans and insects that feed on plants. Nile Perches uses coordinated swimming tactics to protect themselves from other predators.

Invasive Species Nile Perch

Nile perch have since been introduced to many different lakes across Africa, some of which are the artificial lake Nasser and Lake Victoria. The World Conservation Union’s Invasive Species Specialist Group places L. Niloticus as the world’s 100 worst invading species.

Queensland in Australia fines those who possess living Nile perch Because they compete with native barramundi, Which grows almost as big as Nile Perch. With a length of 1.5 m (4 feet 11 inches) long, while L. Niloticus grows to 2.0 m (6 feet 7 inches).

The species is of immense importance commercially as a fish used for food. The Nile perch is popular amongst sport anglers, as it is good at attacking artificial fishing bait and can also be raised in aquafarms.

Introduction of Nile Perch in Lake Victoria

One of the most cited examples of the harmful effects an alien species can have on an ecosystem is the Nile Perch species introduction into Lake Victoria. In the 1950s, African Nile Perch was introduced to Lake Victoria in East Africa; since then, it has been used commercially. They were bringing in a sale of 169 million euros in 2003. Sports fishing also ramped up tourism in the regions of Tanzania and Uganda.

In order to describe the problems the Nile perch causes in lake Victoria, it is important to consider the effects. Some of the effects of nile perch in lake Victoria include the decline in the number and diversity of smaller fish species in the lake as well as the decline in water quality in some areas of the lake.

Several 100 native species were wiped out or near wiped out following its introduction due to the ecological effects. Some species’ populations were altered due to commercial fishing and Nile perch stocking. After initially feeding on native Lake Victoria Cichlids, Nile Perch has switched to eating small shrimps and minnows due to decreasing availability of its original prey.

The changing of the indigenous ecosystem had destructive socioeconomic effects on local villages that shears their border with the lake. Many local people were displaced from their traditional occupations in the fishing trade and pushed into a cash economy, or before export-oriented fish tanks were established, they became economic refugees. At least the ability to manufacture nets durable enough to hold adult

Nile perch mature to a length of up to 2 m (which is equivalent to 6 ft 7 in) and weigh approximately 200 kg (or 440 lbs)
Nile perch mature to a length of up to 2 m (which is equivalent to 6 ft 7 in) and weigh approximately 200 kg (or 440 lbs)

Nile perch was initially not possible locally, and nets had to be imported at a high price, which allowed local fishing to sustain.

Also, ecologically Nile perch was a nightmare to the shorelines. Due to its high-fat content, Nile Perch needs to be smoked with firewood, unlike the native cichlids, Which could be sun-dried. This process has increased demand for firewood in areas already suffering from deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion. To maintain the Nile Perch from getting rotten.

Did you know there’s a lake Victoria Nile perch documentary? The 2004 Darwin’s Nightmare, produced by Hubert Sauper that was nominated for Best Documentary, deals exponentially with the impact of Nile perch introduction into Lake Victoria and the use of the cargo plane that was meant to export Nile Perch to import firearms and ammunition from Europe. And how these weapons had cost more conflicts and made the people of the surrounding regions live in poverty, pain, and unfavorable conditions. Hubert Sauper further explains that whether you consider the introduction of Nile Perch positive or negative, it has ecologically drained, destroyed, and impoverished the lake. Especially its predatorial behavior, which led to the extinction of many other species. While the ecosystem finds its balance, it is for sure that neither the former condition of the lake nor present new fish conditions can bring back what has been lost.


In Lake Victoria, there are only small trawlers belonging to research institutes. In small boats, sails are the primary means of propulsion, with paddles being used on most miniature ships. However, boats propelled by outboard engines are becoming more prevalent, indicating that the local Nile perch fishery has become more capital intensive.

One to three anglers use a boat. Fish are caught primarily using gill nets and handlines, with some [short] long lines being used. In most cases, the fish caught in gill nets are dead when the yields are lifted. During transportation, the fish are kept in the boat without protection or ice and taken to landing sites, primarily beaches, where they are weighed and bought by companies using enclosed boats or vans with ice or by locals.

The fishery business has also employed multitudes of fish transporters, factory employees, and fish processors. In response to the fishing crew’s needs, boomtowns have developed along the Lakeshore. These towns resemble shantytowns with little in the way of service. In the 2004 frame survey, only 20% of 1433 landing sites provided communal restrooms, only 4% provided electricity, and only 6% were equipped with portable water.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing Nile perch is a relatively new and exciting sport that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in East Africa where the fish is found. The best time to fly fish for Nile perch is during the warmer months when they are more active and feeding more aggressively. 

Fly fishing for Nile perch requires specialized gear, including a strong and sturdy rod capable of handling the weight and strength of these large fish, a heavy-duty reel with a strong drag system, and a selection of large and durable flies that can withstand the powerful Nile perch teeth.

Catching Nile Perch

There are several methods used to catch big Nile perch, including trolling, casting, and bottom fishing. Trolling involves dragging baited lines behind a boat, while casting involves casting lures or baited hooks from the shore or a boat. Bottom fishing involves dropping baited lines to the bottom of the lake and waiting for the fish to bite.

Lake Victoria Nile perch are known for their strength and fighting ability, so it is important to use sturdy fishing gear, including heavy-duty rods, reels, and fishing line. Live bait, such as small fish or insects, is often used to attract the fish, as well as artificial lures such as large spoons, jigs, and swimbaits.

There are different types of Nile perch bait that can be used to catch the monster Nile perch. You can use live bait such as small fish, shrimp, or crayfish. You can also use dead bait, such as whole or cut fish. 

Check out this guide on how to catch Nile perch!

Nile perch aquarium
Nile perch aquarium

Largest Nile Perch

The largest Nile perch ever caught was reportedly caught in 1991 by a German angler named Kurt Lukas. Lukas was fishing on Lake Nasser, which is located on the border between Egypt and Sudan, when he caught the massive fish. 

This ​​world record Nile perch weighed 236 pounds (107 kg) and measured 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length. This has been the biggest Nile perch ever caught. Lukas’ catch is considered a Nile perch record and is an indication of just how large these fish can grow. 

However, it is worth noting that due to overfishing and habitat destruction, Nile perch populations have declined in many areas and it is becoming increasingly rare to catch a huge Nile perch.

Threats Faced by Nile Perch

The Nile Perch fish faces its challenges, regardless of it’s Nile perch invasive species status. As a species of megafauna, the most prominent threats to the species stem from overfishing and using unapproved fishing gear and other forms of invasive water orchids. Depletion of prey also plays a significant role, as it reduces the size of fishes and makes them more vulnerable and vulnerable to larger predators, such as crocodiles.

Images of Nile perch
Images of Nile perch

Nile Perch Aquaculture

Nile perch aquaculture, or Nile perch farming in controlled environments, has been attempted in various locations, including Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Nile perch is a popular food fish in East Africa, and aquaculture has been seen as a way to reduce pressure on wild populations and provide a consistent supply of fish to the market.

Large Nile Perch Export

In Uganda, a group of investors is calling on the Ugandan Parliament to ban the sale of this species on both local and regional markets to protect the export to EU markets.

Cooking Nile Perch

Is Nile perch good to eat? Is Nile perch safe to eat?

Yes, Nile perch is safe to eat and is actually a popular food fish in many parts of East Africa, where it is found in several freshwater lakes. The fish has a firm, white flesh that is mild in flavor and is often compared to sea bass or grouper.

The number of Nile perch calories can vary depending on the specific preparation and serving size. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of Nile perch fillet cooked with dry heat contains approximately 96 calories.

If you wish to learn how to cool Nile perch, check out these delicious nile perch recipe:

You won’t find live Nile perch for sale, but you can definitely purchase the fillets at certain supermarkets.

Nile Perch Facts – FAQs

What’s the Nile perch diet?

Nile perch are carnivorous and primarily feed on other fish. Their diet varies depending on their size and habitat, but common prey items include small fish, crustaceans, and insects. 

Is Nile perch and tilapia the same fish?

No, Nile perch and tilapia are not the same fish. There are multiple differences between Nile perch vs tilapia. They belong to different families and have different physical characteristics and dietary habits.

Why do they call the Nile perch river monsters?

They are sometimes referred to as river monsters Nile perch because of its size and predatory nature. 

How big do Nile perch get?

In the wild, they have been known to reach lengths of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) and weights of over 400 pounds (180 kg). However, most Nile perch caught by fishermen are much smaller, typically ranging in size from 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters) and weighing between 10 and 100 pounds (4.5 to 45 kg). 

How did the Nile perch get to lake Victoria?

It is believed that the introduction of Nile perch (Lates niloticus) to Lake Victoria was a result of human activities. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Ugandan government and international aid organizations worked to improve fishing opportunities in the region by introducing non-native fish species, including the Nile perch. The fish were initially introduced to lakes in Uganda and were later transferred to Lake Victoria, which is located in the neighboring countries of Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.

Are there golden Nile perch?

Yes, there are Nile perch that have a golden or yellowish coloration. These color variations are sometimes seen in Nile perch caught in different regions and are likely due to genetic variations, environmental factors, or differences in diet.

For more articles related to lakes in Tanzania and their inhabitants click here!

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