African Tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus)

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African Tigerfish
Hydrocynus vittatus
African Tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus)
Name African Tigerfish
Name Lat. Hydrocynus vittatus
Family African Tetras
Family lat. Alestidae
Order Characins
Order lat. Characiformes
Origin Africa
Habitat Rivers, lakes
Diet Carnivore
pH 6.5-8.0
Behavior Predatory
Keeping Individual, pair, group
Care Level Experts only
Reproduction Oviparous
Breeding Difficult
Life Span 5-8 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 65 cm
Temperature 24-28 °C
Hardness 5-25 °dH
Aquarium 2,500 l
US Units
Size 26"
Temperature 75-82 °F
Hardness 89-445 ppm
Aquarium 650 gal

Distribution and habitat

The tiger tetras are widespread in Africa, from Egypt to South Africa. They are found in all major rivers and lakes, including Lake Tanganyika, where they usually live in groups or small shoals


The well-structured large tank should have a robust border planting and offer hiding places from large roots and stones. They are very active swimmers and need plenty of swimming space. A substrate of fine gravel or sand, some subdued light (floating plants) and a weak current is ideal.

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the aquarium size is required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


In nature, this predatory fish feeds on fish. The food supply consists of live fish and large pieces of fish, which are well accepted even in frozen form.

A regular and varied diet promotes health and increases resistance. Feed only as much as is eaten immediately (in a maximum of 10 minutes).

Behaviour and compatibility

Juveniles can be kept with other defensible fish. Later they can only be kept with equal sized partners in the species tank. Any smaller fish, but also any fish of the same size is considered food.

Basically, only mutually compatible fish species with similar demands on water condition and water temperature may be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

There are no known external distinguishing characteristics.

Reproduction and breeding

Occasionally a breeding in the aquarium is said to have succeeded.


The tiger tetra is a dangerous, difficult-to-maintain predator, but an attractive display animal because of its conspicuous dentition.

The well-being of the fish should be checked regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels should be checked at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even if the contaminant level has not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BMELV (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); BAENSCH & RIEHL (2004): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 4, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch 

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF