Amazon Game Fishes (back The Fishes)

Apaiari - Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus)

Geographical Distribution:
South America,  Amazon River basin in Peru, Colombia and Brazil to Argentina Also known from French Guiana.

Description:
Scale fish; Body color dark with bright orange opercle margin and ventral parts of the lateral sides of the body, often a black rounded blotch with orange margin at caudal fin base.

Habitat:

Preferably inhabits quiet shallow waters. Feeds on small fish, crayfish, worms and insect larvae. Occurs in mud- and sand-bottomed canals and ponds. Quite popular with aquarists but not for aquaculturists because of its slow growth. Max. length 1.5 ft.


Equipment
:
Medium sized, fast action fishing tackles are the ones mostly recommended for a firm and precise catch. Use 10 to 12 lb lines and small hooks.

Baits:
Natural baits (small fish, whole or in pieces) without lead are recommended. As for artificial lures, medium sized and surface plugs as well as small spoons and spinners, are usually used.

Tips:
Baits should be worked right on the surface. The angler should be very alert as this species when hooked, usually jumps out of the water thus easily escaping.


Apapá - King Gold (Pellona castelnaeana)

Geographical Distribution:
Amazon and Araguaia-Tocantins basins (Pellona castelnaeana and P.flavipinnis) Plata (including Pantanal basin (P.flavipinnis)).

Description:
Scale fish. Elongated compressed, body, small head , small mouth slightly turned upward, serrated preventral region; adipose fins and lateral line, usually absent. The two species can be easily told apart from each other by the yellowish color of the yellow apapa and silver color of the white apapa, both with a dark back. The Yellow apapa can reach more than 24in length, and the white apapa is a little smaller reaching up to 19in.

Ecology:
Most species in this family are of marine or estuary origin. The fresh water fish are pelagic (surface and middle water), occurring in rivers lakes and flooded forests. Small apapa shoals also take place in water rapids. Both species can be found together, although the yellow apapa is more common.
They feed on small fish in the surface of the water during dusk hours.
The apapa is considered a 2and rate commercial fish of no significant importance in commercial fishing.

Equipment:
Medium sized, fast action fishing tackles are the ones mostly recommended for a firm and precise catch. Use 10 to 12lb resilient lines and small hook.

Baits:
Natural baits (small fish, whole or in pieces) without leads are recommended. As for artificial lures, medium sized and surface plugs as well as small spoons and spinners, are usually used.

Tips:
Baits should be worked right on the surface. The angler should be very alert as this species when hooked, usually jumps out of the water thus easily escaping.


Aruanã - Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum)

Geographical Distribution;
Amazon and Araguaia-tocantins basins.

Black Arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai) - South America: Negro River basin.

Description:
Scale fish. Very elongated and laterally compressed body; very large mouth whith a bony and rough tongue (such as the pirarucu) it is the only scale fish in Brasil that has sensorial barbels on its jaws. Its large scales, of a white color become reddish during breeding time. It can be 3.2 feet long and weigh a little over 11lb. At the Negro river, another type of a darker color called O. ferrerai can also be found.

Ecology:
The aruana lives in marginal lagoons and small tributaries of large rivers during the dry season and in the igapó (flooded forest) During the flood period. They are always on the look out for insects (especially beetles ) and spiders that might fall in the water. It is probably the largest fish in the world that feeds on insects and spiders. The aruana swims right under the surface whit its barbels facing forward. The reason for the barbels is still unknown, however when oxygen levels are very low, the barbels can be used to obtain oxygen on the surface of the water. The most peculiar aspect of the aruarana´s feeding behavior is that in can jump out of the water to get its prey on trees. And adult specimen can jump out of the water up to 3.2 ft. This species reproduces during the flood, and the male keeps the fry in its mouth to protect them from other fish (the barbels help in guinding the fry into the mouth). The yong fish have a very high commercial prince as ornamental fish.

Equipment:
Fishing tackle should be medium sized; use 12, 14 and 17lb lines.

Baits:
This fish can be caught with either natural (shrimp,fish,insects) baits or with artificial lures, such as surface and medium sized plugs and spoons.

Tips:
It is easier to capture the aruana in the margim of lakes and lagoons, with baits cast close to the shore and fallen truks. The aruana jumps wonderfully whem it has the whole bait in its mouth, and the angler should be very careful whem removing the hooks from its mouth to avoid getting hurt.


Bicuda - Spotted pike-characin (Boulengerella cuvieri)
Movie YouTube
Geographical Distribution:
Amazon and Araguaia Basin.

Ecology:
Scale fish. Pelagic (surface and middle water), found along the riverbanks, rigth at the beginning of the igarapés and lakes , in areas where there are not a lot of rapids. Large shoals are not very commom and they do not migrate during spawn. B ocellata is a especies that feeds on small fish and it extremily voracous. Its fishing is highly suitable for sportfishing considering it can jump out of the water many times before surrendering to a hook, however, it is of no commercial value.

Equipment:
Medium and medium/heavy equipment is mostly used, and the rods should be of stiff action because the rougth mouth cartilage is dificult to be of 14,17 or20 lb and hooks ranging from 3/0 to 5/0.

Baits:
Artificial lures, such as top water and midlle water plugs, spoons and spinners are the most commom for the bicuda fishing, however natural baits like small fish or pieces of fish can also be used.

Tips:
The friction should be well adjusted because the bicuda usually takes on a lot of line whem its caught. Use very sharp hooks to make the catch easier.


Cachorra - Payara (Hydrolycus scomberoides)

Geographical Distribution:
Amazon, Araguaia-Tocantis (Hydrolycus scomberoides and Raphiodon vulpinus) and La Plata basins.

Description:
Fish with tiny scales; silver colored; oblique mouth; large pectoral fins; elongated and compressed body; the H. scomberoides is bigger and more full-bodied and is has a rouns black spot bedied and it has a rouns black spot behind its operculum. Both species are known as cachorra (dog, in Portugese) because of its two very large canine teeth at the mandible. These canine teeth at the mandible. These canine teeth at the mandible. These canine teeth are so big that the top part of the head has two holes to fit them into when the mouth is closed. Specimens can be as long as 19in.

Ecology:
Fhis of middle water, can be found in river channels and beaches, lakes and flooded forests. Fish-eating species that can attack large preys, sometimes reaching 40% to 50% the length of the predator. They migrate long distances for breeding. No significant commercial value.

Equipament:
Medium and medium/heavy tackle equipment should be used; lines 14, 17, 20 and 25lb; hooks ranging from 4/0 to 6/0. The use of steel rigs of at least 20cm is recommended because of its very sharp teeth.

Baits:
They can be captured using whole fish or in pieces for bait (lambaris, tuviras, curimbatás, etc) and with artificial lures, such as middle water plugs, poppers and spinners.

Tips:
They jump a little after striking on the lures but tend to wear out quite soon. The angler should be careful when teleasing the fish because of its canine teeth. Cachorras do not have the habit of looking for snags, which makes it easier to catch them.


Pirapitinga - Red-bellied Pacu (Piaractus brachypomus)

Geographical Distribution:
South America: Amazon and Orinoco River basins

Description:
These are tall fish which give the appearance of a Red-bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri but they tend to be somewhat plumper despite the fact that the two are often confused. The most significant morphological difference between the two is the the level of protrusion of the jaw (much smaller in pacus than in piranhas). This helps to illustrate the largely vegetarian nature of the pacu and the largely carnivorous nature of the piranha.

They are either grey or silvery fish with red bellies and the pacu has red lower body fins as well. The tambaqui also grows to a size which Pygo. nattereri can never hope to achieve.

The genus to which the tambaqui formerly belonged, Colossoma was, at the time, the only genus of fish in which true molars are present. All genera which sprang from Colossoma are now among that still-somewhat-small assortment.

Though they aren't to be feared as much as piranhas, tambaquis have formidable teeth which will be used on careless keepers that anger or scare them. The name Serrasalmidae means "Salmons with a Saw" (David Schleser, "Piranhas: A Complete Owners' Manual"), and this accurately describes the dentition of the Pacus.

Ecology:
Migrating species, especially for breeding, nutritional and dispersion. During the rainy season, it invades the flooded forests in search of berries/seeds. During the dry season, the youngster stay in the lakes of low and flat lands alongside watercourses where they feed on zooplankton while the adult specimens migrate to the muddy water rivers to spawn. During this time they do not feed on anything, living off the fat they accumulated during the rainy season. One of the most commercially important species in the central Amazon region.

Equipment:
Recommended tackles of the medium/heavy and heavy kind for the large specimens. Use 17, 20, 25 and 30lb lines. Because of the tambaqui's mouth and teeth, short rigs should be used. The hooks can vary from sizes 2/0 to 8/0.

Baits:
Local fruits/berries are this species favorite baits. Minhocuçu ( giant worm ) can also be used.

Tips:
Fishing with a hook is easier when the fish is hitting. The minhocuçu bait, for instance, should be thrown right when the fish hits.

 

Matrinxã (Brycon amazonicus)

Geographical Distribution:
South America: Amazon River and its main tributaries in Brazil; Orinoco and Essequibo River basins.

Description:

Equipment:

Medium and medium/heavy equipment is mostly used, and the rods should be of stiff action because the rougth mouth cartilage is dificult to be of 14,17 or20 lb and hooks ranging from 3/0 to 5/0.

Baits:
Artificial lures, such as top water and midlle water plugs, spoons and spinners are the most commom for the bicuda fishing, however natural baits like small fish or pieces of fish can also be used.


Piranha - Black Piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus)

Geographical Distribution:
Amazon, Orinoco,  Araguaia-Tocantins, basins, and in the Northeast reservoirs where they were introduced.

Description:
Scale fish. There are many different species of piranhas, and the shape of the body and color vary from each species. In general, the body is of an oval shape, the mandible is protuberant and the teeth are very sharp. The red piranha have the most pointless nostril of the group, the strongest mandible and the sharpest teeth. It can reach 30cm in length. The black piranha can be 1.3ft long, the largest in the Amazon region.

Ecology:
The piranhas belong to very diversified group of fish, being the Amazon the place that has the most types of species at least 20. The red piranha is the most common. It can be found in lakes and lagoon as with muddy waters living in shoals of 12 or even more more than 100 individuals. The black piranha usually live in black and clear water an clear water rivers, and they are isolated individuals. In some regions the piranhas are quite appreciated as food, particularly the famous piranha broth, considered aphrodisiac.

Equipment:
Medium type equipment should be used with lines of 14, 17 and 20lb. The hooks can be of 3/0 to 6/0.

Baits:
Pieces of fish, innards and middle water artificial lures.

Tips:
The angler must be very careful when handling the piranhas, as any careless movement might end up in a serious accident. The use of pliers is recommended for removing the hook out of the piranha’s mouth.


Pirarucu (Arapaima Gigas)
Movie YouTube

Geographical Distribution:
South America: Amazon basin.


Description:
This is the largest scaled fish in the Amazon and can exceed 3 m in length. It grows fast, switching rapidly from feeding on invertebrates to fish. They nest on the margin of the forest as the water is rising: March - May. The young are protected by the male. While not endangered as a species, in many areas it is overfished and large specimens are much less frequently caught.

Ecology:
Often referred to as the largest freshwater fish. Builds a nest of about 15 cm depth and 50 cm width in sandy bottoms. Spawns in March - May and guards the eggs and the young. Obligate air breather. The fish rises to the surface of the water and inspires air in a noisy, distinctive gulp, which is reported to carry for long distances. Threatened due to over harvesting.

Equipment:
Heavy type equipment for lines 30 to 50 lb. The hooks used, range from 8/0 to 14/0


Baits:
This species is difficult to catch on rod and reel, natural baits like whole fish or in pieces, the red piranha is one of its favorite, as well as birds and turtles, it is can also be caught with most artificial lures

Special:
The arapaima is hunted and utilized in many ways by local human populations. Arapaima are harpooned or caught in large nets and the meat is said to be delicious. Since the arapaima needs to swim up to breathe air, traditional arapaima fishers often catch them by first clubbing them and then harpooning them dead. One individual can yield as much as 70 kg of meat. In addition, the arapaima's bony tongue is often used to scrape cylinders of dried guarana, an ingredient in some beverages, and the bony scales are used as nail files. This animal also appears in the pet trade, although to keep an arapaima correctly requires a large tank and can prove quite difficult.
The arapaima, pirarucu, (Arapaima gigas) is a South American tropical freshwater fish. It is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, reportedly with a maximum length in excess of 3 m (9.8 ft.) and weight up to 200 kg (440 lb.). As one of the most sought after food fish species in South America, it is often captured primarily by handheld nets for export, by spearfishing for local consumption, and, consequently, large arapaima of more than 2 m are seldom found in the wild today.
The diet of the arapaima consists of fish or even other kinds of small animals, including birds. The fish also has the ability to breathe air from the surface due to a lung-like lining of its throat, an advantage in oxygen-deprived water that is often found in the Amazon River. This fish is therefore able to survive extensive drought periods by gulping air and burrowing in the mud or sand of the swamps.
The arapaima has also been introduced for fishing in Thailand and Malaysia. It is also considered an aquarium fish, although it obviously requires a large tank and ample resources.
Fossils of arapaima or a very similar species have been found in the Miocene Villavieja Formation of Colombia.
The tongue of this fish is thought to have medicinal qualities in South America. It is dried and combined with guarana bark, which is grated and mixed into water. Doses of this are given to kill intestinal worms.


Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum)

Geographical Distribution:
Amazon basin

Description:
Scale fish. Oval-shaped body, short adipose fin with rays on the edges; molar-shaped teeth; long, fine and numerous gillrakers.
They usually have a greenish back and black belly, although the color may vary to a lighter or darker shade depending on the color of the water; the fry are gray with dark spots spread out on the lower part of the body. The tambaqui can reach about 2.9ft in length. In the past, specimens weighing up to 99lb could be caught. Nowadays, due to excessive fishing, it is practically impossible to catch one this big.

Ecology:
Migrating species, especially for breeding, nutritional and dispersion. During the rainy season, it invades the flooded forests in search of berries/seeds. During the dry season, the youngster stay in the lakes of low and flat lands alongside watercourses where they feed on zooplankton while the adult specimens migrate to the muddy water rivers to spawn. During this time they do not feed on anything, living off the fat they accumulated during the rainy season. One of the most commercially important species in the central Amazon region.

Equipment:
Recommended tackles of the medium/heavy and heavy kind for the large specimens. Use 17, 20, 25 and 30lb lines. Because of the tambaqui's mouth and teeth, short rigs should be used. The hooks can vary from sizes 2/0 to 8/0.

Baits:
Local fruits/berries are this species favorite baits. Minhocuçu ( giant worm ) can also be used.

Tips:
Fishing with a hook is easier when the fish is hitting. The minhocuçu bait, for instance, should be thrown right when the fish hits.


Trairão - Aimara - Giant trahira (Hoplias  macrophthalmus)

Geographical Distribution:
South America: Amazonas Basin, Orinoco Basin, and coastal rivers in Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

Description:
Scale fish that can be of 44lb and longer than 3.2ft, although specimens this big are harder to find. Its color is almost black on the back, gray on the sides and whitish abdomen.

Ecology:
Fish -eating species, very voracious. They live the relatively shallow areas and backwater stumps on the riverbanks and marginal lagoons, where there is vegetation and trunks.

Equipment:
Use medium/heavy equipment. The mostly used hooks are the 6/0 and 8/0 mounted with or 50 to 100 coated steel cable. Lines mostly recommended are 17, 20, 25 and 30lb.

Baits:
Natural baits such as pieces of fish ( matrinxã, cachorra, curimbatá ). Lures are also very productive, especially surface and middle water plugs, spinner baits and spoons.

Tips:
Be careful when removing the hook from the trairao's mouth because its bite is strong and its teeth are sharp.