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Temporal range: Eocene - Recent
Lates niloticus.png
Nile perch (L. niloticus)
Scientific classification

G. Cuvier, 1828
Type species
Lates niloticus
Linnaeus, 1758
  • Luciolates Boulenger, 1914
  • Pseudolates Alleyne & W. J. Macleay, 1877

Lates is a genus of lates perches belonging to the family Latidae. The generic name is also used as a common name, lates, for many of the species.[3]

All species are predatory and the Nile perch (L. niloticus), in particular, has become infamous as an invasive species introduced into the East African Lake Victoria, where many native cichlids now are extinct. In contrast to the Nile perch, several members of the genus Lates with relatively restricted African or Asian distributions are themselves considered threatened.


The generic name Lates derives from the Latin latēre (to be hidden).


These fishes range in size from less than 30 cm (1 ft) to 2 m (7 ft) in maximum overall length, the largest species reaching weights of up to 200 kg (440 lb).[3] They all have the characteristic centropomid shape, with the two-part dorsal fin and general percoid form.

As mentioned earlier, all species are carnivorous, preying on aquatic invertebrates and other fish in a wide variety of habitats.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The greatest species diversity is in the Rift Valley lakes, with four endemic to Tanganyika (L. angustifrons shown), one to Albert and one to Turkana

These fishes are native to freshwater and marine waters of Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. Several species are endemic to the Rift Valley lakes in Africa.


There are currently 11 recognized species in this genus:[3]

Fossil of Lates gibbus

Extinct species[edit]

Species within this genus include:[1]

Fossil of Lates gracilis
  • Lates gibbus Agassiz 1833
  • Lates gracilis Agassiz 1833
  • Lates macrurus Agassiz 1833
  • Lates noteus Agassiz 1833
  • Lates qatraniensis Murray and Attia 2004

Extinct species within this genus lived from the Eocene epoch to Recent, approximately from 37.2 to 0.0 million years ago. Fossils have been found in Africa (Libya, Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, Chad, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and Sudan), in Saudi Arabia and in Slovakia.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Fossilworks
  2. ^ Murray,A.M., Attia,Y.S. A new species of Lates (Teleostei: Perciformes) from the Lower Oligocene of Egypt, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 2004, 24(2):299–308
  3. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). Species of Lates in FishBase. October 2013 version.