Nile Perch Care: Tank Setup, Food, Behavior & More

Scientific NameLates niloticus
Common Name(s)Nile perch
OriginCongo, Nile, Senegal, Volta
Temperature Range72-82°F
Water ParameterspH 7.0-8.5
Adult Size121–193cm

Nile Perch Care

It can be fun to find a rare fish as a pet, but keep in mind, that while your pet may have an exotic name, chances are it is a domesticated version of the river monster you’re trying to grow. The true Nile Perch is a behemoth that has been featured on shows like River Monsters. Native to Africa, adults can be over 6 feet long, and weigh up to 440lbs. The pet variety can be difficult to find, but makes for an active pet that is surprisingly easy to care for.

Nile perch

Tank Setup

These are hearty freshwater fish, but keep in mind when purchasing a tank for larger species of fish, you’re buying for long-term care, and so should plan for the largest community you want. A 90-gallon tank is recommended for keeping a perch, as they are large, active, and can grow to fit their surroundings. A larger starter tank will allow you to keep more fish, as well as keep your maintenance time down. The tank will need an aquarium heater to maintain temperatures between 75-77 degrees Fahrenheit. They are native to Africa and prefer warm waters.


Perch can grow to be large, but they are fairly hearty. As with any pet, you want to minimize any danger, so be sure to only use good quality fake plants or real ones. They’re predatory, but all animals like to have places to relax and hide, so be sure to create a bit of topography with rocks and logs. Often these fish can be used for small, decorative ponds as well, so things like plants, Indian almond leaves, and drift wood are all excellent ways to create a natural habitat.

Diet & Food

Perch will eat anything that can fit in their mouths, so keep that in mind when choosing their food and tank mates. Also be aware that they are hearty fish and prefer live food. You can keep a separate tank to breed feeder fish or buy cheap feeders, but to properly care for your Perch, you need to provide a varied diet, which can become expensive if not properly planned. They can eat shrimp, beef, earthworm, and anything else normally sold as live feed or bait.


If you want to add them to a community, be sure to keep them with larger, docile species. Perch will eat anything that fit in their mouths, so are not good mates for smaller species of fish. Ornamental tanks at pet stores can be a very good guide for keeping larger species together.

Perch are relatively easy to care for as long as you’re comfortable providing live food. They really will eat anything they can chew, so as long as you’re keeping their diet varied, they’re the same as caring for any other large, freshwater carnivore. If you are intent on having a mini monster in your tank, they’re a great option. Keep in touch with your favorite sellers, as they can be hard to find regularly.