While things may seem relatively quiet above the water, Amazon rivers and tributaries teem with more than 3,000 species of fish, including piranha and the feared electric eels1. As for many other wildlife groups, it is safe to assume that plenty of other species remain to be discovered.
What fish populate the Amazon rivers
Of the Amazon fish described so far by science, 40% are catfish and characines2
, including the neon tetra (Hyphessobrycon innesi
), pearl headstander (Chilodus punctatus
), silver hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus levis
), bronze corydoras (Corydoras geneus
) and the oscar (Astronotus ocellatus
Many Amazon fish have adapted to frugivory
, a diet based on fruits and seeds. About 200 species of fish feed show this habit, more than in tropical Africa and Asia3
This is probably due to the presence of river galleries (river banks with low hanging trees), which make it easy for fish to eat fruit and seed that float on the surface of the water.
Some of the vegetarian fish include the giant tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum)
, a bass-like fish that can weigh up to 30 kg. Its specialized, powerful teeth allow it to crush and grind hard fruit such as palm nuts and rubber tree seeds.
The fat stored in the food allows the fish to survive during periods of low water, while seeds, which are swallowed but not digested, are dispersed through the river network.
forests, plankton – a group that includes tiny aquatic plant and animal organisms, which drift with the currents - is abundant, which make these forests ideal grounds for fish that are growing, especially after flooding when zooplankton (or animal plankton) is particularly abundant.