Amazon River Fish...
Among the most feared and biggest on Earth

Amazon river big or lethal as you can get...

The Amazon river basin covers an area of 2,5 million sq. miles or about 30% of the South American continent. With an estimated total length of 6,520 km, receives approximately 15,000 tributaries before discharging into the Atlantic ocean near Belem, Brazil.

Brazil Travel: Amazon river, Pirarucu

Everything in Brazil comes super sized- Amazon rainforest is the biggest tropical rainforest on earth, otherwise called "lungs of the planet"- home to over a million different species of animals, mammals, amphibians, fish, birds, insects and spiders.

Its waters are populated by the highest diversity of fish in the world, the most important source of protein for Amazon natives since the beginning of times.

Amazon river fish are counted in the number of 2,500 on the conservative side, some experts place it around 5,000 different fish species.

More than twice the number of species known from the Atlantic ocean. Water snakes, amphibians and mammals- such as the Amazonian manatee, capybara and Amazon Pink river dolphin - are part of this amazing world of water dwellers as well, together with the Amazon stingray.

Top in the list of Amazon river fish comes the most-feared piranha.
Deeply installed in the popular psyche of western civilization due to the movies or other fantasies, not to Amazon rainforest natives, who regularly swim in piranha-infested waters.

We couldn't personally avoid a chilling sensation every time we've swam in its waters, even knowing it's more of a myth than a fact.

Amazon River Fish: Piranha

The name piranha comes from Tupí-Guaraní language: "pira", fish and "sanha", tooth.
Red-bellied piranhas are the most feared and best known of around 40 species of them.

They have powerful jaws and razor-like triangular teeth that can shred flesh from bone in a matter of seconds.

Amazon indigenous tribes use piranha's teeth for tools and knives, and to sharpen their curare-tipped darts for blowgun hunting.

They feed in large schools and can converge on animals like anacondas, manatees, caymans, birds, etc., but attacks on humans are very rare.

However, it would be unwise to swim having a wound or otherwise bleeding, as they're attracted to the scent of blood, just like sharks.
In dry season, when food becomes scarce, they can be dangerous.

For the most species, piranhas are herbivorous, feeding on fruit and seeds. Their average size goes up to 6-10 inches (15-25 cm.)

Brazil Travel: Amazon river, Piranha

Amazon River Fish: Pirarucu

Arapaima, Paiche or Pirarucu is one of the 500 species of catfish inhabiting the Amazon rainforest.
The largest scale fish in the Amazonia. World's largest freshwater fish.

An air-breathing, carnivorous fish that can grow up to 10 feet long and can weigh up to 400 pounds.
One individual can yield 70 kg of meat.

Pirarucu ranks among the most ancient fish on earth - Jurassic period, 200 million years back.
Its name comes from Tupi language which means approximately "red fish".

An adult needs to surface every 15 minutes or so to gulp oxygen.

More than fished, pirarucu is actually hunted with spears by Amazon natives, particularly in the lowest of the low season, when they're confined to lagoons.
Its diet consists mainly of other fish, small animals and birds.

But pirarucu doesn't always get that lucky. Life in the jungle is a constant struggle between different animals.
A relationship forged hundred of thousands of years ago, predator and prey...

Amazon River Fish: Tambaqui

Tambaqui or Pacu is a fruit and seed eating fish, considered to be one of the best-tasting freshwater fish in the world.
If you happen to be in Manaus for instance, check it out.
A large vegetarian member of the piranha family that can reach one meter in length and 45 kg in weight, eagerly harpooned by Amazon natives.

Tambaqui's favorite meal are the seeds of the rubber tree. Provably the most valuable commercial fish in the region.

Amazon River Fish: Electric Eel

An electric eel - actually species of fish, not an eel - can reach a length of 9 feet (around 3 meters) and a weight of 50 pounds (22 kg).
A long, cylindrical, scaleless body capable of delivering a 650 volt electric shock.

Enough to stun a man.

Air-breather that has to surface every 10 minutes or so, the electric eel (Electrophorous Electricus) dwells in the muddy bottoms and it's largely avoided by the locals, due mainly to its ability to deliver a powerful shock, even up to eight hours after its death.

As for amphibians, tropical frogs are the most abundant in the Amazon rainforest, with more than 1,000 species cataloged.
They're found mainly in the trees.
As opposed to temperate frogs, tropical frogs lay their eggs in the vegetation, or the ground.
By leaving the water, they avoid egg-predators such as fish, shrimp and insects.
Among the most well known rainforest amphibians we find...

  • blue poison dart frog
  • green and black dart poison dart frog
  • monkey frog
  • brown tree frog
  • cat-eyed frog
  • three-striped poison dart frog
  • cane toad
  • leaf toad

Amazon river fish are as spectacular as the Amazon rainforest, and certainly part of the most unique South America travel experience...

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