Nkolongo is the local name for several fish species in the genus Synodontis, including Synodontis victoriae, known in English as the Lake Victoria squeaker.
Nkolongo are non-scaly freshwater fish that live at the mouths of rivers. They are found in several parts of Lake Victoria, as well as smaller lakes throughout the region.
The most commonly caught nkolongo is yellowish green with brown patches all over the body. Adults typically measure 4 to 7.5 centimeters long, but some reach lengths up to 12.5 cm and are darker in color. These larger fish, which are usually found in deeper parts of the lake, must be handled with care, as the bony spines that develop at the back of their heads can pierce flesh.
Nkolongo are mainly fished for personal or family subsistence, and not for commercial sales. Today, commercial fishers on Lake Victoria use nkolongo—especially young fish from the shallow river waters—as bait for larger fish such as Nile perch (Lates niloticus).
This has driven nkolongo populations down and now they are at risk of disappearing from Uganda’s food traditions.