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AFRICAN TIGERFISH (Hydrocynus Vittatus)

AFRICAN TIGERFISH (Hydrocynus Vittatus)

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The African Tiger Fish is a characin, but it certainly is not your typical aquarium tetra!

The African Tiger Fish Hydrocynus vittatus is an unusual characin. This fish is best described by its scientific name. “Hydrocynus” means “water dog”and “vittatus” means “striped,” and, indeed, the African Tiger Fish looks like a “striped waterdog.” This big, ferocious fish is covered with large, iridescent, silvery scales, sometimes with a golden cast. Other common names for this fish are Tiger Fish, Tiger Characin, Ndweshi, African Tigerfish, and Tiervis.

This Tiger Characin is definitely a specialty fish. It can reach an impressive size, up to about 3-1/2 feet (105 cm) in length and over 60 pounds, but it usually won’t get much longer than about 30 inches (75 cm) in the aquarium. One look at those teeth tells you that the African Tiger Fish is a voracious predator. The African Tiger Fish is related to the Piranha but actually gets much larger. They can use those huge teeth to chop even large fish into bite sized pieces.

The African Tigerfish is not actually hard to care for in terms of water quality or food variety, but they get really big and eat a lot. The large size alone limits the type of aquarist who will able to keep one. When first purchased as small juveniles, they may initially be kept in a large home aquarium. But eventually, full-sized adults will need a very large tank. An aquarium of 650 gallons, even upwards of a 1000 gallons or more, will be needed to keep them happy and healthy. In its adult size, this giant fish is really best suited for public aquariums or for highly experienced aquarists with the space and financial ability to properly care for them.

African Tiger Fish are usually kept in species aquariums. They will school with their own species and more than one can be kept if the aquarium is large enough. They will also school with fish of similar temperament, however, any tankmates need to be appreciably larger. As they age and grow even larger, however, these African Characins tend to become less tolerant of their tankmates and need to be housed singly.

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