Niloticus tilapia gill savaged

What creature could be savaging the gills of Tilapia at an Aquaculture facility in Southern Mozambique?

Niloticus tilapia gill savaged
Gills eaten, but the rest of the tilapia untouched

The owners of a large Tilapia Aquaculture operation in Southern Mozambique, woke up one day in February 2020, to find that some of his larger broodstock specimens had been savagely attacked by some unknown creature.

What was strange, is that many fish were killed, but only the parts around the internal gill area and some of the heads had been devoured. The rest of the fish went uneaten.

It seems that the culprit was intent on taking out as many fish to satify its preference for the gills only.

Each pond measures around 100m x 25m, and when there are dozens of these on the farm, its not easy to monitor 24/7.

So what could this creature be?

The Tilapia Farm’s owner went about doing some research and narrowed it down to one potential culprit (but of course, this is only an assumption).

water mongoos curtesy
Banded Mongoose (not Water Mongoose as per comment below) – Courtesy & Copyright

In the video below, a water mongoose or Marsh Mongoose seen stealing an egg:

We have not found much information on its predatory capabilities and whether the water mongoose is able to swim and dive for its prey. After all, its not easy to catch adult tilapia in a large body of water. Of course, it is plausible that some of these fish may have been resting on the edges of the pond when the attacks happened, but for so many to have been killed during the same period puts a question mark on that hypothesis.

Another possibility could be otters, but again, no prior evidence of these in the area.

Three months later and still no conclusion as to what it was that created such devastation.

Inside of Gills on this Niloticus Tilapia completely cleaned out

Fencing has been added around the ponds as a preventitive measure, and losses seem to have abated since.

If anyone has experienced something similar in their aquaculture tilapia fish farm anywhere in Southern Africa, and have identified the culprit, we would love to hear from you.

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