Impact of an Invasive Species

Impact of an Invasive Species

Nile perch (Lates niloticus) were introduced to Lake Victoria in the 1950s to boost the fishing industry. Though the introduction of Nile perch resulted in an economic boom, it almost caused cichlids, a native fish, to go extinct.


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Biology, Ecology, Geography

Nat Geo WILD

Nile perch were introduced to Lake Victoria in the 1950s to boost the fishing industry. The introduction caused an economic boom, but also drove hundreds of species of native cichlids to near-extinction. Watch this video, from the Nat Geo WILD series “Destination Wild,” to discover the role an invasive species can play in an ecosystem and social system.

Instructional Ideas

Watch the video and use our glossary to explore the discussion questions in the Questions tab. Learn more about Nile perch with our Fast Facts, and dig deeper with links to related resources. This media spotlight aligns to Next Generation Science Standards in middle school and high school life science:

Fast Fact

Although Nile perch are not indigenous to Lake Victoria, they are native to other African lakes, including Lake Albert and Lake Turkana.

Fast Fact

The Nile perch is known by many names (language in parentheses):• dzo (Adangme)• am’kal (Arabic)• cal (Dinka)• leshie (Ewe)• giwan ruwa (Hausa)• saalen (Jula)• mputa (Luo)• sangala (Swahili)• igbo (Yoruba)• iji (Turkana)

Fast Fact

Nile perch are some of the biggest freshwater fish in the world. Only these fish are consistently larger:• taimen (indigenous to rivers of Mongolia and Russia)• bull sharks (indigenous to coastlines throughout the tropics and subtropics)• arapaima (indigenous to the Amazon River)• alligator gar (indigenous to the southeastern United States)• Mekong giant catfish (indigenous to the Mekong River in Southeast Asia)• giant freshwater stingray (indigenous to Southeast Asia)• white sturgeon (indigenous to North America)• beluga sturgeon (indigenous to the Caspian, Black, and Adriatic Seas)

Fast Fact

Female Nile perch are generally larger than males.

Fast Fact

Nile perch are carnivores. As fry (juvenile fish) they consume zooplankton, shrimp, clams, snails, and insects. As adults, they prey mostly on other fish. Nile perch can sometimes be cannibals—eating members of their own species.

Fast Fact

The wild fishery for Nile perch as been steadily decreasing since 2005. However, fishermen and women still catch more Nile perch than are harvested through aquaculture. In 2012, fishers harvested 278,675 tons of Nile perch, while 15,996 tons were harvested through “fish farms.”

Media Credits

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National Geographic Society
Melissa MacPhee, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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