Bottlenose Fish Or Mormyrus Longirostris

The Eastern Bottlenose fish (Mormyrus longirostris) is aptly named as it has a long elongated snout and a tiny mouth that requires small hooks with worms as bait.

These slow moving fish breed during the rainy season and migration is sporadic as they do not like fast flowing water and they are not strong swimmers.

They are not fierce hunters as compared to the African Tiger Fish which can clasp a live bird in motion. The bottle-nose feeds on weeds, insects, and small vertebrates.

This species lacks strong survival strategies compared to the Barbel, especially when food becomes scarce or there is a lack of water.

The Bottlenose, as opposed to the whiskered Barbel and the Vundu species, cannot survive for a long period out of water.

They are an unusual Kariba fish species and will add a little spice to your fishing experience.

Fishing Eastern Bottlenose
Eastern Bottlenose Fish

Anatomy Of The Bottlenose Fish

This unusual fish grows up to seventy-five centimeters long weighing in at up to ten kilograms. Compared to the African Tiger Fish, which can grow up to a maximum of seventy kilograms, it is a fairly small fish.

The dorsal fin is over double the length of the anal fin. The dorsal source is closer to the tip of the snout than to the caudal fin base.

Interestingly, they can give you a mild electric shock if you hold both ends of the wet fish. This is the only species in the Zambezi Waters that can do this, apart from the Electric catfish.

Where Is The Bottlenose Fish Found

The Bottlenose fish can be found in freshwater habitats in the Lower and Mid Zambezi, and Lower Sabi.

It inhabits the Ruvuma and Rufiji rivers in Tanzania and the lakes of Malawi and Tanganyika. In Zimbabwe, they are often found within the expansive Lake Kariba.

They join the local Zimbabwean species of fish such as the Vundu, Chessa, Nkupe, and Barbel, among others, which are also Lake Kariba inhabitants.

They are happiest in grottoes and murky areas with soft bases. They hide in weeds and naturally forms little shoals.


Bottlenose fish breed throughout the rainy season, moving upstream in rivers after the water has receded.

These migrations occur at irregular intervals.

Females carry 10,000 to 70,000 eggs at an interval as compared to the Tiger-fish that carry over 780,000 ova.

Fishing For Bottlenose In Lake Kariba

The best time to catch the Bottlenose is in the early evening as they are generally more active at night.

You will have the best opportunity of hooking these fish in fairly deep pools and in slow-moving water that has little or no current.

The bait usually recommended is worms since they work best.

The Abangane Houseboat based at Binga has experienced crew who can take you to the best fishing spots and give tips on best practices.

Unlike Nkupe or Tiger fish, they are not good fighters and once hooked, they are easy to reel in. Unlike the Barbel and Vundu fish, it does not need a sturdy tackle and strong fishing apparatus.

However, fishermen are cautioned when handling these fish. By holding both wet ends of the fish at the same time, a mild electric shock will be experienced.

This breed of fish face the greatest threat from poachers. They usually fish them during their spawning seasons.

However, unlike the Vundu which are on the periphery of extinction and are a catch and release species, the Bottlenose fish is far from extinction.


In a nutshell, the Bottlenose gets its distinctive name because of its body features which sport a long snout. 

They are slow swimmers as compared to the kings of the river, the Tiger fish.

They are not sturdy fighters hence less effort is needed to reel them in. making them a trouble-free sport for anglers seeking to catch them – unlike the Barbel, Vundu and Tiger fish.

The Bottlenose is unique in that it manufactures an electric shock as a self-defense mechanism.

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