Hydrocynus goliath, also known as the goliath tigerfish, giant tigerfish, or mbenga, is a very large African predatory freshwater fish in the family Alestidae.
Hydrocynus goliath is found in the Congo River Basin (including Lualaba River and Lake Upemba), and Lake Tanganyika. A study published in 2011 revealed several mtDNA clades in this region, suggesting a higher tigerfish species richness than traditionally recognized. If confirmed, this would restrict H. goliath to the Congo River Basin. Four additional species (H. vittatus and three undescribed species) appear to be present in this Basin, while two (H. vittatus and an undescribed species) appear to be present in Lake Tanganyika.
This large-toothed, highly predatory fish grows to a length of 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) and a weight of 50 kilograms (110 lb).
Hydrocynus goliath is a piscivore, feeding on any fish it can overpower, including smaller conspecifics.
When hunting, this fish uses the calmer eddies of the rapids to ambush its prey, using its keen sight and hearing to detect prey. When a target is noticed, the fish uses acceleration to chase it down.
Interaction with humans
A number of incidents have been reported in The Congo of this fish attacking humans. This seems to be the result of disturbances and flashing objects in the water that makes the fish mistake a human for a large fish. This reputation, combined with its strength, has earned it an almost mythical status among anglers, and it has been called the "greatest freshwater gamefish in the world."
According to locals living near the river, the evil spirit "mbenga" would enter the fish and make it attack people.
This species featured in Jeremy Wade's documentary series River Monsters (Season 2, Episode 1 "Demon Fish"). Wade managed to catch the fish and planned to release it, but it died from swimming into rocks during the fight. In the special, Wade called this fish the "ultimate river monster" of all the fish he has caught filming for the series.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Hydrocynus goliath" in FishBase. April 2013 version.
- Goodier, S.A.M., F.P.D. Cotterill, C. O'Ryan, P.H. Skelton, and M.J de Wit (2011). Cryptic Diversity of African Tigerfish (Genus Hydrocynus) Reveals Palaeogeographic Signatures of Linked Neogene Geotectonic Events. PLoS ONE 6(12): e28775. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028775
- Paul Harvey Skelton (2001). A Complete Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Southern Africa. Struik. ISBN 978-1-86872-643-1.
- Bill Hansford-Steele (2002). African Fly-Fishing Handbook. Struik. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-86872-882-4.
- GOLIATH TIGERFISH (Hydrocynus goliath) Discovery channel
- Goliath Tigerfish | The Proceedings of the Ever so Strange
- Phillipson, David W. 1985. Mosi-oa-Tunya A Handbook to the Victoria Falls Region Long man Zimbabwe ISBN 0-0546-8657
- "Mystical goliath tiger fish caught on camera". 21 October 2010.
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