Latin name

Lates niloticus

Other names

African snook, Goliath perch, African barramundi, Goliath barramundi, Giant lates, Victoria perch.


Body elongated, laterally compressed. Dorsal spines: 7-8; Dorsal soft rays: 8-14; Anal spines: 3; anal soft rays: 7-9. Mouth large and prominent, lower jaw slightly protruding. Numerous villous teeth on jaw, palate and scutellum. Scales crested, 54-74 along lateral line, followed by 6-8 spongy scales at base of caudal fin; ceratobranchial (lower extremity) of first gill arch with 12-14 gill shells. 

Features of fish fins

Dorsal fin divided by a deep notch into anterior barb and posterior soft rays; anal fin with 3 spines. Caudal fin rounded. 

Fish colouring

Body uniformly silvery or dark greyish-blue on the back, greyish- silver on the sides and abdomen. Fins are greyish; the inner part of the eye is conspicuously yellowish. Juveniles are brownish with lighter marbling on the head and flanks.


Widespread in all major river systems of tropical Africa, particularly the Nile, Volta, Senegal and Congo rivers, and lakes such as Chad, Albert, Rudolph and Victoria.


Freshwater, bottom-dwelling, potamodromous species. Depth range 10-60 m. Tropical, found from latitudes 27°N to 7°S. Occupies canals, lakes and irrigation canals. Adults in deep water, juveniles in shallow water. 


The maximum length is 200 cm and the maximum weight is 200 kg. 


Females will never abandon their young. At the slightest danger, the entire brood will hide in their mouths. When the young are no longer able to fit in there, they move to shallow water to live independently, feeding on shrimps and smaller inhabitants.

Food and feeding habits

Predatory fish that feeds on fish and crustaceans. Smaller fish also eat crustaceans and insects. Juveniles are plankton eaters. 


Average life expectancy is around 16-20 years. Sexual maturity occurs from the age of three. Their mating season occurs when the water temperature becomes consistently warm.


Sport fishing for this fish is popular. It has white, tender flesh with a faint odour.

Relationship with a person

Several countries report negative environmental impacts following the introduction of this species.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Perciformes
Family Latidae
Genus Lates
Species L. niloticus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Bottom
Life span, years 20
Maximum body weight, kg 200
Maximum length, cm 200
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Tags: nile perch