February 16, 2009

Elephant Fish and Tiger Fish Swim the Congo River

A Goliath Tiger Fish, pulled from the Congo River
While elephants and tigers roam on land in Africa, elephant fish and tiger fish cruise underwater in the deep Congo River. The Goliath tiger fish (top right) is said to grow up to 150 pounds (68 kilograms) and has terrifyingly long teeth.

The Goliath Tiger Fish is one scary-looking aquatic creature, and is a member of the species of Alestiidae. The fish is only located in the Congo River, one of the largest rivers in the world. There have been unverified reports of late that Goliath Tiger Fish have been able to kill humans that cross their watery paths. Other tiger fish, which are most commonly found in the Zambezi River, are close relatives of the Goliath Tiger Fish.

Tiger Fish are the stuff that fishy legends are made of in the area that surrounds the Congo River, and have kept many people from attempting to swim in that river's high, ocean like waves. The Congo River is also the deepest river on the planet, with its deepest region stretching more than seven hundred feet to the bottom, and is still largely unexplored by scientists. It is deeper than most lakes, which gives many of the Goliath Tiger Fish ample room to hunt, swim, and grow. Most biologists have found that Goliath Tiger Fish are usually not able to survive in smaller bodies of water, and need a large hunting area. One of the reasons why the fish has become so popular lately around the world is because of the way that it looks. It has long, pointy teeth that can be up to four inches long and are used to catch prey. Must human fatalities and injuries from the Goliath Tiger Fish are reported when the fish mistakes a hand or a finger for another river dweller. No, Goliath Tiger Fish don't hunt humans. In fact, humans often catch tiger fish with poles and nets.
An Elephant Fish pulled from the Congo River


The Congo's freshwater elephant fish, on the other hand, uses it's long trunk-like snout to sift through river bottom sediments for food and is significantly less frightening in its appearance. These fish swim the tumultuous Congo River, the second longest river in Africa after the Nile and are just two examples of extreme biodiversity in the Congo.

The Congo river's diversity is currently thrilling scientists. "What we're talking about here is like a species factory--it's a species pump," team leader Melanie Stiassny told National Geographic. "If Darwin had come here, I think we would have had the theory of evolution published a lot sooner."

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7 comments:

  1. Wow. That's reason to NOT go swimming in the Congo. ;)

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  2. Don't forget to be very wary of the California Newt!

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  3. That's no joke, folks! The California newt (Taricha torosa) is also referred to as the Oregon newt or orange bellied newt. They can grow to be 8 inches (20 cm) in length and have very poisonous skin.

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  4. There are a lot of amazing fish in the Congo River!

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  5. Those are some BIG teeth!

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  6. WOW! How does the tiger fish close it's mouth with teeth like that?!

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  7. That is a very good question. Actually, the teeth of the Goliath Tiger Fish are always visible, even when its mouth is closed. Each top tooth fits between two bottom teeth. Another interesting fact is that the teeth are replaceable, much like shark teeth. When a tooth is lost, a replacement waiting just behind it shifts into place so the Goliath Tiger Fish always has a full set.

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