CYPRINIFORMES - carps and characins: Page 4

  • Family: Curimatidae
    A family of characiform fish members of which are often abundant within the floodplain where they feed on detritus. They are normally open water fish of silvery appearance rather like the familiar roach and rudd of temperate lakes. Common Amazonian species include: Eigenmannina melanopogon, Psectrogaster rutiloides, Psectrogaster amazonica, Curimatopsis cf. macrolepis, Semaprochilodus insignis, Semaprochilodus taeniurus, Curimata ciliata, Curimata vittator, Potamorhina altamazonica, Potamorhina pristogaster, Potamorhina latior, Chilodus sp, Prochilodus nigricans, Anodus, and Curimatella meyeri.
    Some authorities divide this family into the Curimatidae, Prochilodontidae and the Chilontidae.

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    A photograph of typical curimatid species. These specimens of an unknown species were caught in Lake Tefe, which is a large blackwater ria lake in the upper Amazon
    A photograph of typical curimatid species. These specimens of an unknown species were caught in Lake Tefe, which is a large blackwater ria lake in the upper Amazon


    Eigenmannina melanopogon
    E. melanopogon is an abundant open water species of white water floodplain lakes. However, like other fast swimming open water forms, it is not well adapted to low oxygen levels and they are frequently suffocated during the low water season. At this time of year large shoals of this species will leave the lakes for the oxygen rich main river channels. In live the scales have a beautiful silver-blue metallic sheen. This is a true open water fish that is quite unsuited to the aquarium.

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    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Eigenmannina melanopogon taken from Lake Mamiraua, near Tefe
    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Eigenmannina melanopogon taken from Lake Mamiraua, near Tefe

    A living specimen of Eigenmannina melanopogon taken from Lake Mamiraua, near Tefe
    A living specimen of Eigenmannina melanopogon taken from Lake Mamiraua, near Tefe


    Psectrogaster rutiloides
    P. rutiloides is a highly abundant open water fish of the Amazon river floodplain where it lives in white water lakes feeding on detritus and plants. It is an open water shoaling fish that is active by day. This species is a key member of the ecosystem and is preyed upon by many other fish and birds.

    Psectrogaster amazonica
    P. amazonica is a particularly deep-bodied curimatid. They live in small shoals and are active by day. As with other members of its family they probably feed on plants and detritus.

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    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Psectrogaster amazonica caught in a white water lake near Tefe
    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Psectrogaster amazonica caught in a white water lake near Tefe

    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Psectrogaster rutiloides caught in Lago Mamiraua near Tefe
    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Psectrogaster rutiloides caught in Lago Mamiraua near Tefe


    Curimatopsis macrolepis
    C. macrolepis is a small, but abundant species in floodplain lakes and river channels where it forms shoals in open water.

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    Lateral view of two preserved specimens of Curimatopsis macrolepis
    Lateral view of two preserved specimens of Curimatopsis macrolepis


    Semaprochilodus insignis
    Semaprochilodus taeniurus
    These are some of the commonest fishes of the Amazon basin. They are found in both floodplain lakes and the main river channels. Unlike many members of the Curimatidae they have a beautifully patterned black and yellow tail. Both species are strikingly similar in general appearance and behaviour, and are open water fish that take a wide variety of food from the surface of the water.

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    Lateral view of a recently caught specimen of Semaprochilodus insignis showing thew characteristic tail coloration
    Lateral view of a recently caught specimen of Semaprochilodus insignis showing the characteristic tail colouration

    Lateral view of preserved specimen of Semaprochilodus taeniurus which has lost the coloration on the tail
    Lateral view of preserved specimen of Semaprochilodus taeniurus which has lost the colouration on the tail

    Recently caught adult specimen of Semaprochilodus taeniurus showing the splendid coloration of the tail
    Recently caught adult specimen of Semaprochilodus taeniurus showing the splendid colouration of the tail

    Semaprochilodus insignis feeding at the surface in a white water floodplain lake
    Semaprochilodus insignis feeding at the surface in a white water floodplain lake


    Curimata ciliata
    This is one of the most abundant open water fishes of the Amazonian floodplain. It lives on plants, detritus and other debris on the bottom of lakes. Because of its size and plain silver coloration it is ignored by aquarists. With other members of the Curimatidae there can be little doubt that this species is a key member of the floodplain ecosystem.
    Curimata vittator
    A small curimatid that forms large shoals in river channels and lakes. It is an active open water fish.

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    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Curimata ciliata caught in Lago Mamiraua, a white water lake near Tefe
    Lateral view of a preserved specimen of Curimata ciliata caught in Lago Mamiraua, a white water lake near Tefe

    Curimata vittator - Lateral view of a preserved specimen
    Curimata vittator - Lateral view of a preserved specimen


    Potamorhina altamazonica
    P. altamazonica is a highly abundant open water fish of white water lakes and channels. They live in shoals and are active by day when they feed on detritus and lake sediments which they shovel into their wide mouths.

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    Lateral view of a preserved adult of Potamorhina altamazonica caught in a white water floodplain lake near Tefe. This specimen has lost the normal silver sheen during preservation
    Lateral view of a preserved adult of Potamorhina altamazonica caught in a white water floodplain lake near Tefe. This specimen has lost the normal silver sheen during preservation

    Painting of Potamorhina altamazonica made by Peter Henderson in the field from a recently caught specimen. The tail is asymetrical because of piranha damage
    Painting of Potamorhina altamazonica made by Peter Henderson in the field from a recently caught specimen. The tail is asymetrical because of piranha damage


    Chilodus
    These are small fish less than 10 cm in length. It is probable that the major constituent of their diet is derived from plants and algae. Chilodus punctatus is known to eat detritus, chironomids and ephemeroptera larvae probably picked from the roots of floating plants and the surface of the substrate.

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    A lateral view of a preserved specimen of a species of Chilodus, probably Chilodus punctatus, caught in floating vegetation in a white water flood plain lake near Tefe
    A lateral view of a preserved specimen of a species of Chilodus, probably C. punctatus, caught in floating vegetation in a white water flood plain lake near Tefe


    Prochilodus nigricans
    is a peaceful herbivore that will also eat small insects and aquatic crustaceans such as Concostraca. It can attain a maximum length of about 30 cm and is a common open water species in Amazonian floodplain lakes. Known as the spotted small mouth, it is a rather dull fish of little interest to aquarists.

    Prochilodus nigricans gut contents (P=present)
    INDIVIDUAL NUMBER 1 2 3 4
    LENGTH (cm) 17.4 16.5 19.6 19.8
    MASS (g) 108 72 196 176
    CHIRONOMIDA     P  
    CONCHOSTRACA     P  
    ISOPTERA 290      
    LEPIDOPTERA   1    
    DETRITUS       P
    PLANTS-ROOTS     P  
    PLANT-SEEDS INDET.       2
    CECROPIA LOTILOBA 160      
    RHEEDIO MACROPHYLLA 4      
    BROSIMUM LACTESCENS   1