The Nile perch (Lates niloticus) is a species of freshwater fish native to the Congo, Nile, Senegal, Niger, and Lake Chad, Volta, Lake Turkana and other river basins, and is now widespread through tropical Africa. It has a large number of common names including African snook, Capitaine, Victoria perch and many local names in various African languages, such as the Luo name Mbuta. One of the largest freshwater fish, Lates niloticus reaches a maximum length of nearly two meters (more than six feet), weighing up to 200 kg. Mature fish average 121–137 cm although many fish are caught before they can grow this large.
A fierce predator that dominates its surroundings, the Nile perch feeds on fish (including its own species), crustaceans, and insects; the juveniles also feed on zooplankton. Nile perch have been introduced to many other lakes in Africa, including Lake Victoria. The Lake Victoria introduction is an often-cited example of enormous effect of a non-native species upon its new surroundings, as Nile perch decimated the rich diversity of native species, and caused the decline or extinction of an estimated 200 chichlid fish in Lake Victoria. This highly studied introduction caused a booming fishing industry for Nile Perch which destroyed the livelihood of traditional local lake-side dwelling people and caused a chain of other high impact repercussions on the environment and economy of the area. The IUCN's (World Conservation Union) Invasive Species Specialist Group considers Lates niloticus one of the world's 100 worst invasive species. The state of Queensland in Australia levies heavy fines on anyone found in possession of a living Nile perch, since it competes directly with the native Barramundi, which is similar but does not reach the same size as the Nile perch.
The species is of great commercial importance as a food fish. The Nile perch is also popular with sport anglers as it attacks artificial fishing lures and is also raised in aquaculture.
(CABI 2011; Lipton 2003; Schofield 2012; Wikipedia 2012)
- CABI, 2011. Lates niloticus (Nile perch) [original text by F Witte]. In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://www.cabi.org/isc/?compid=5&dsid=77994&loadmodule=datasheet&page=481&site=144.
- Lipton, D. 2003. "Lates niloticus" Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lates_niloticus.html
- Schofield, P.J. 2012. Lates niloticus. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=412 RevisionDate: 9/15/2011.
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2012. “Northern Pike”. Retrieved January 10, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Northern_pike&oldid=470568308