Fish and zooplankton populations of nine Ethiopian freshwater lakes were quantitatively sampled along a North–South gradient. Differences in altitude and latitude resulted in a temperature gradient from North to South. We tested three hypotheses: (1) the degree of zooplanktivory decreases with water temperature, i.e. from North to South; (2) the degree of zooplanktivory increases with the abundance of large-bodied zooplankton; and (3) the pattern of zooplanktivory in eutrophic Ethiopian water bodies differs from other tropical and temperate water bodies. Proportions of zooplanktivory in the fish communities did not show a geographical trend, but mainly depended on fish species, zooplankton density and the availability of large-bodied cladocerans. The degree of zooplanktivory in eutrophic Ethiopian water bodies differs from other eutrophic water bodies, both temperate and tropical. In Ethiopia, the degree of zooplanktivory can be both low and high, in contrast with other tropical water bodies where zooplanktivory is generally low and with temperate eutrophic water bodies where it is generally high. As a result, predation pressure on zooplankton by fish varies dramatically amongst Ethiopian water bodies.