September 24, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Paddling in the Congo River System is not for the fainthearted.  This is the Goliath Tigerfish (Hydrocynus goliath).

Living in freshwater rivers and lakes it is an aggressive predator. Its body is streamlined and muscular with broad tail fins. It’s a combination needed for speed. Its skin is stripy, possibly for camouflage and its colouring is beautifully adapted to the murky waters it calls home.

Then there are those teeth.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you of its top predator status, the fish is also thought to have excellent eyesight due to its daylight hunting habits. It also has a gas-filled sac in its body that is sensitive to vibrations, like a drum. Any movement nearby will alert the fish to potential prey.

The Goliath is the biggest species of its genus, there are actually five more Tigerfish species roaming the rivers of Africa. All with varying degrees of tooth length. The Congo River is the deepest in the world and is considered a hotbed of diversity by researchers. The likelihood therefore is that there are many more species waiting to be found. They are waiting very quietly. Did I mention they were ambush predators?  Happy swimming.