There are some scary fish out there. Piranhas are pretty nasty, and I could do without running into electric eels. But I think after reading this post, you can probably agree that the goliath tigerfish is one of the scariest fish around. If I ever encountered this guy, I think I’d be scared away from water for life.

Luckily, goliath tigerfish only occur in a limited area of the world — the Congo River Basin and Lake Tanganyika in Africa. So as long as you don’t go swimming in waters in the Congo, you should be safe from these terrible creatures.

This one looks pretty tame, but wait until you see the inside of its mouth… Image by Cedricguppy – Loury Cédric, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Goliath tigerfish, as their name implies, are quite large creatures. They can grow to be five feet long, and weigh more than 50 kilograms. Specimens of over 60 kg have been rumoured to exist, but have not been authenticated. They are an inconspicuous silvery colour, and don’t look too scary at first glance.

But once these giants open their mouths, it’s easy to see why they have such a fearsome reputation. Goliath tigerfish have a mouthful of huge, sharp teeth that are no doubt very good at tearing flesh apart. They can have up to 32 teeth in their mouth, each up to an inch in length. Just one look at the tigerfish’s mouth is enough to give me nightmares.

Those are some nasty teeth. Image by Tylwyth Eldar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Goliath tigerfish use these teeth to hunt pretty much anything that is smaller than them, including members of their own species. They prefer to hunt in fast-moving waters, where smaller fish have trouble swimming. The tigerfish then use their superior speed and strength to ambush their poor victim, their terrible teeth often slicing their prey in half. It’s pretty nasty stuff.

They have also been known to attack humans, probably because they thought the person was a tasty fish they could eat. Because it is large and terrifying, the goliath tigerfish is an extremely popular gamefish. It is notoriously difficult to catch, and has earned the titled of ‘greatest freshwater gamefish in the world’. I would probably give it the name ‘most nightmare-inducing horrible fish-but-mostly-just-teeth fish in the world’. And I would never, ever, try and catch one.

Cover image by Cedricguppy – Loury Cédric, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons