The Nile Perch - For the Love of Fish

The Nile Perch

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To all the lovers of fish out there, Uganda must be on your list of travel destinations. Most definitely. Why though? Let’s take a look deep into the water bodies in Uganda. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Types of fish

There are two main sources of fish in Uganda: Aquaculture and Fishing from lakes, rivers and even swamps. Different types of fish flourish in different environments. We have an immense variety of species of fish, around 90 in number, not to mention the Haplochromis Complex, made of some 200 species.

The fish species that are mostly targeted for subsistence consumption and commercial exploitation are the Nile Perch, Nile Tilapia, Pebbly Fish, Bagrus Catfish, Clarius Catfish, Tiger Fish, the Silver Cyprinid, Lungfish and the Haplochromines. But the most common are the Nile Perch and the Nile Tilapia. Here are the details. 

The Nile Perch

This is locally known as “Empuuta”, especially found in the Central region of Uganda. It weighs up to 80 kilograms. In Uganda, it is a native species to Lake Albert where it is locally known as Gur, and the River Nile below Murchison Falls. It was introduced into Lakes Kyoga and Victoria basins in the mid-1950s, but its presence in Lake Victoria was first noted in 1960. Although the Nile Perch was introduced into Lake Victoria in the early 1960s, it took more than 10 years to get fully established in the new ecosystem. 

The Singida Tilapia

The Singida Tilapia is locally known as “Ngege”. It is a critically endangered species of cichlid endemic to the Lake Victoria basin, including some of its satellite lakes such as Lake Kyoga. Its common name refers to Lake Singida, but this population is the result of

an introduction that happened in the 1950s. It is among the oldest types of fish in Uganda. Due to the introduced predatory Nile perch and the highly competitive Nile tilapia, it has become very rare.

The Nile Tilapia

The Nile Tilapia is a species of Tilapia, a cichlid fish native to the northern half of Africa. Numerous introduced populations exist outside its natural range. The Nile Tilapia reaches up to 60 cm in length, and can exceed 5 kg.

The Semutundu Catfish

The Semutundu Catfish is locally known as “Semutundu”. In Uganda, it is widely distributed in the Rift Valley Lakes Edward, George, Albert, Victoria and the Nile system. It is grey-black above and creamy white below. It lives in both shallow and deep water. It feeds on insects, crustaceans, mollusks and fish. It takes any live or dead bait, and is fished on or near the bottom. 

The Silver Cyprinid

The Silver Cyprinid, also known as the Lake Victoria Sardine, is locally known as “Mukene”. It is a small species of pelagic, freshwater rayfinned fish from East Africa, and can grow to a length of 9 cm.

The Marbled Lungfish

The Marbled Lungfish is a lungfish of the family Protopteridae. It is found in Eastern and Central Africa, as well as the Nile region. In Uganda, it lives in the Nile basin, including lakes such as Albert, Edward, Victoria, Nabugabo, and Kyoga. It is locally known as “Emamba”.

The Mudfish

Mudfish are locally known as “Ensonzi”. They are a kind of catfish common in East African swamps. Once caught, they are individually rolled up and several of them in a row are put on a stick and then smoke dried. They are mostly put in ground nut soup to add a flavor of fish.

The Sprat

Sprat is locally known as “Enkejje” in the central region. It is fished near the shore. Several of them in a row are put on a stick, dried and sold in markets. Sprat is usually fried and eaten as source but mostly prepared in ground nut soup.

The Clarias Catfishes

Clarias Catfishes (Clarias) are a genus of the family Clariidae, the air-breathing catfishes. They are locally known as “Emmale”.

The Elongate Tiger Fish

The Elongate Tiger Fish, locally known as “Ngassa”, is found in the Nile and Lake Albert. It is an open water predator often found near the surface and in fast-flowing water. It forms shoals and feeds on fishes, preferring long-bodied fish, as they are easier to swallow. It also takes insects, grasshoppers and snails. It is a cannibalistic, silver fish with a long and slender profile. It has a tail fin forked with a bright red color, and the rest of its fins are uniformly grey. It regularly takes spinners retrieved at high speed across fast-flowing water. It is used by fishermen as live bait for Nile Perch. 

The African Tiger Fish

The African Tiger Fish is locally known as “Wagassa”. It grows up to 105 cm long and 28 kg in weight. It has long gill rakers. The tips of adipose and dorsal fins are black. The forked edge of its tail fin is black. It prefers warm, well-oxygenated water in larger rivers and lakes. All fish, except the largest fish form roving schools of like-sized fish. It is aptly fierce and voracious, because it feeds on whatever prey is most abundant. 

The Niger Barb

The Niger Barb grows up to 82 cm in length and 4 kg in weight. It is confined to the Nile and lakes that are, or were once, connected to the Nile. It feeds on crustaceans, insects, mollusks and organic debris.  

The Lake Victoria Squeaker

The Lake Victoria Squeaker, also locally known as “Wahrindi”, is a species of upsidedown catfish. It grows up to 35 cm in length and 1.5 kg in weight. It has one strong dorsal spine and spines within the pectoral fins, which are long and serrated. The spines can be locked at right angles to the body as a form of self-defense. It squeaks when caught or distressed. It is found mostly near soft bottoms of the water bodies and close to banks. Near waterfalls, it is found in slower flowing water. The fish of the shallow, faster water are generally of a lighter greyishgreen colour, whilst the fish of the deeps are a darker, blacker colour. 

The Pebbly Fish or Silversides

The Pebbly Fish or Silversides is locally known as “Angara”. It grows up to 43 cm in length, and 500 g in weight. It is silver coloured with blue-grey black and white belly, greyish fins with an orange colour on the lower lobe of the tail fin. It is caught with spinners, spoons and a fly. It also takes float fished dough and termites.  

The Electric Catfish

The Electric Catfish occurs in the Nile (exclusive of Lake Victoria). It grows up to 1 metre in length and 20 kg in weight, and lives in rocky waters or roots. It favours sluggish or standing water. It is most active at night, feeding mainly on fish stunned by electric shocks. The electric organ, capable of discharging 300–400 volts, is derived from pectoral muscle and surrounds almost the entire body. It is used both for prey capture and defense. It forms pairs and breeds in excavated cavities or holes.

We can’t even begin to imagine the delicacies that await your taste buds, the aroma that will excite you, when you are served with any of the aforementioned fish species. Come and experience all these, just for the love of fish!

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