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Return to the Amazon 2013

The first trip to Colombia in 2012 was also the first time I had been in the Amazonian jungle. This trip I knew more of what to expect having spent around 5 weeks at Steve's lodge outside Leticia, Colombia. This trip Steve was kind enough to let us stay again.
The main part of this trip was to try & expand the knowledge & distribution of Rivulus (or Anablepsoides if you prefer) in the Leticia area. One fish we needed to find again was the one we just called 'Red Rivulus'.

Location 1

Spent the day with Fred & Diana at the Finca. Fished the stream at the bottom of Steve's land - same place as last year. Collected mainly Nannostomus trifasciatus, marble hatchet, a few knife fish about 4". Shoals of Characin but not worth collecting. A couple of Hoplosternum. A young Cayman could be heard fairly close by so we were on our guard in case mum showed up.
Crossed the stream to the jungle side. Area was boggy, in coarse of drying out. Collected a few Rivulus. Typical rows of fine stripes along the body. Anal fin most striking with a yellow colour & a black marginal band. After being in captivity a day this yellow turned more orange. Pairs collected about 3.5cm + 1 baby about 1cm. Water was brown which was a bog with lots of undergrowth. Obviously a high tannin level. Very slight flow noticed. This made a spongy mass on the water. Depth only about a foot at worst. Not hard to fish. Ideal Anaconda hunting ground. We went through this into the jungle & followed some loose trails which had to be opened up a little with the machete in places. Big cat tracks in the mud & we found a place something had been lying up. Did not see any big cats thankfully although they are known in this area.
On return to the UK Fred told me about a close encounter with a big cat near his home at night. It was lucky he had his big dog with him.
Some trees had been felled & were being cut up into planks. We didn't find any water through this area although it was easy to see where streams had been. Inspected under leaves but nothing found.

Stream at the bottom of Steve's land.

Boggy area we had to cross on the other side of the stream. This is where we caught the Rivulus.

Another photo of the boggy area with one of the fish bins.

Male Rivulus collected in the boggy area. TACOL2013/1

Female Rivulus collected in the boggy area.

Location 2

Returned to the finca & collected some more of the Rivulus pictured above. Also fished further upstream. Despite fishing extensively in the mud but only caught knifefish & Apistogramma. One Rivulus was caught briefly but prooved a good jumper & got away. He was not a very colourful specimen, lots of small horizontal dots.
The water was deep brown in colour suggesting heavy tannin concentration. Certainly iron deposits in the water so the pH would have been very acidic.
Also collected in a roadside pool outside the finca. We found quite a few Rivulus with a lot of yellow in the anal fin. These sexed out pretty evenly.


A day of local fishing for commercial fish

Collected in Rio Tacana tributary end of road where we collected first last year. River level about the same. Collected the usual - Nannostomus trifasciatus, few marble hatchets, 4-5 scissortail characin with the colour in the top half of caudal. Quite a lot of red Tyttocharax, collected a few for later photography. Could have collected around 70-80 but they don't travel well. Some died on the way to the fish house. Caught 1 pike cichlid but no more could be found.
A few large crabs and 1 Hoplias were found. We collected one large predatory characin with orange tail (Hepsetus odoe type).
The shallow area upstream netted zero fish. This was where we collected Rivulus the previous year.

Small characin collected. These are very sensitive & generally put back. A lot of nice small tetras prove difficult to keep.

Pedro & I netting along the sand bottom.

What's the crazy gringo doing paddling in the mud?

Large predatory Characin caught.

sp. ?

Location 3 & 4

We had heavy rain for a few days which prevented collecting. The water levels in the tributaries & river rose to about 2 metres higher than last year.
Finally got brighter & collected about half a mile towards km 13/14 from Steve's finca. Trail going into forest on the left of the road. Good trail with trees felled to make bridges over bog areas. A short distance in the stream had overflowed forming lots of pools. Heavy tannin content but good flow. Not a lot of fish to catch. Collected some nice Copeina (few), Some Rivulus. Also what looks like an annual killie female with black ocellus in caudal peduncle & vertical black stripes on body. This turned out to be something different. Red mark in gill area. Also collected a knife fish. Laetocara also seen here.
Also collected the 'Red Rivulus' same as location 7 last year, These were near adult size. It seems this stream is connected with the previous location as suspected. All fish collected in heavy shade near the log bridge under a small overhang in mud/leaves. Really nice to find these here.
Also saw nice coloured lizards walking along the log walkways.

Collection point of the 'Red Rivulus'

Flooded area fished.

Big hairy spider found here. About 5 seen where we collected the 'Red Rivulus'

Male Rivulus caught in above bog. TACOL2013/3
Female Rivulus caught in above bog. TACOL2013/3

Pedro fishing by the log used as a walkway.

Lizard sharing the walkway. Impossible to get close enough for a decent photo.

Poecilocharax weitzmanni
collected here

Apistogramma bitaeniata
collected here

We collected these first along the trail. TACOL2013/4

Biotope Location 4.

About a mile further down the trail a small puddle of water by a log netted a few Rivulus, not very colourful.
A little further a boggy area on the trail netted quite a lot of Rivulus, some quite large about 7-8cm. Males very colourful with body green with red horizontal stripes. Unpaired fins nice lemon colour.

Location 5

We followed the trail up from the bog which was quite wide. We collected in small puddles, some by removing walkway planks. Quite large fish collected. These were R.elongatus. It was interesting to note these were caught on higher ground than R.rubrolineatus.

Then collected these a little further along. TACOL2013/5
Photo on the right shows collection point.

Location 6

Returned to this biotope but fished in a culvert on the km road. Collected more 'Red Rivulus' near the edges which extended the distribution area of this species. Unable to follow the stream upstream due to barbed wire fence going into private land. This was a fast flowing stream. Quite deep under the culvert.

Biotope, a culvert running under the km road.
The 'Red Rivulus' were collected in the shallows on the right.

Male 'Red Rivulus'. TACOL2013/6

Female 'Red Rivulus'. TACOL2013/6

Location 7

Tanimboca Reserve. This is literally over the km road when following the road from the lodge to the km road. It's a great place with trails around the reserve to various interesting points like snake pens, streams & a nice shallow sandy based river. Goran looks after this reserve & those considering collecting here should ask permission first as a matter of courtesy. Followed trail round to a small stream. Found small Rivulus. All looked to be males but some had an ocellus so collected a good bag full. Different pattern with red edges to outer margins of caudal fin. These are location TACOL2013/7. Later they were identified as R.rectocaudatus. This form was only found in this small stream. Very shallow biotope with slow flow of clear water. Only small pre sexing out fish collected. These have been grown on & bred in the UK but some problems have been encountered in hatching eggs.
Next stream along was location 8 where the fish were totally different. We did not go into some of these streams as they looked faily hostile with spider webs across them with nasty looking spiders attached to them. Streams were small & overgrown.
Goran reports a Rivulus deeper in the reserve with yellow & red stripes on the body. This is where he collects Neon Tetras for his tank.
We didn't get to this location but maybe next time. In the previous years collection we did fish deeper into the jungle & find a more yellow R.rubrolineatus form.

Location of R.rectocaudatus

This was the largest fish collected. Probably a female. The ocellus in the caudal peduncle can be misleading in this species.
Photo taken in the jungle.


Male TACOL2013/7. wild fish grown on & bred.
Photo courtesy of Gordon Temperley

Female TACOL2013/7. wild fish grown on & bred.
Photo courtesy of Gordon Temperley

Snake in reserve.

Snake in reserve.

Main river through the reserve

My kind of river - shallow with a hard sandy bottom

Frog/toad sp. seen in the reserve.

Not a lot of fish in this section of the river. Quite a few small characins, Copeina & this young catfish.

Location 8

After collecting the R.rectocaudatus we fished the next stream along the trail & caught these. No R.rectocaudatus were found anywhere except in that one stream. TACOL2013/8

Location 9

When we collected in 2012 the water levels were a lot lower & the trail was a lot easier. We got to the former damn pool & had to get over a fast, deep flowing tributary. On the other side a tree had been cut down
across the trail making it difficult to get round. We decided it was too difficult & considered that the higher water levels would have made collecting in the area impossible. So we collected what we could in the
floodplain connected to this area. Not easy to collect in but Pedro & I managed to collected some Characins, Copeina Red Point, Apistogramma bitaeniata, one large knife & a pair of Rivulus I had not seen before.
Also 1 'Red Rivulus'.

Part of the damn pool showing the stream we had to cross. This was about
4 feet deep & fast flowing. The trail continues along the stream over a hill.

The floodplain connected to the finding place of the 'Red Rivulus' in 2012. On this trip it was one big lake.

Pedro holds up his catch - a large Knife fish (carapo sp?)

One 'Red Rivulus' caught at the location in the photo to left. TACOL2013/9

Male we collected in the floodplain.

Female to the male on the left.Unfortunately the pair of Rivulus shown on theabove disappeared in the fish house. I only managed to find this pair despite a lengthy search. We did not code these.

Location 10

More rain which swelled the rivers so decided to give the jungle a rest.
I wanted to see if I could find any more 'Red Rivulus' & get a better picture on the distribution.
Went to Fred's to borrow a push bike. Rode it to Km 18 & then left onto the road/track to Nazareth for 1-2km. Riding an old bike, stuck in top gear with the brakes binding in the midday sun is crazy. Did about 14 km
there & back. Fished in a fair sized river on the right after following a track. A local escorted us armed with an ancient gun & machette. Probably big cats in the area.
No Rivulus in this river as it was too deep & fast flowing. Pedro collected a couple of Otocinclus, 1 H.plecostomus type about 4" & 2 youngsters.
Back on the road & about 50 metres further along towards Nazareth I found 2 square holes filled with water. Probably dug for power posts. First one netted nothing but the second yielded quite a few Rivulus.
Not very colourful on collecting. A long bike ride for a non colourful fish. In the aquarium they started to develop nice lemon yellow fins. Body usual striped. Suspect the yellow will turn to orange in captivity.


The biotope where we collected TACOL2013/10

The camera was just about giving out at this point. Not opening the shutter properly.

Tried a couple of trails heading in the direction of the areas we fished along the km road but didn't find any water. It's likely the drainage flows further towards Nazareth before entering into the main river.
On the road back collected in various streams passing under the road & collected various characins, some in large schoals. Some Piranha sp. seen but not possible to collect as the water was very deep with steep sides.

Trusty steed for the day

The road to Nazareth

Pedro with our 'armed escort' fishing the main river in this area.

Roadside puddle - no fish

One of the trails leading off the road towards Leticia

Frog/toad seen on the trail in the photo to the left.
The size can be gauged by the size of Pedro's finger.

Location 11

A few years ago my friend Alan Green was working in the fish house at Steves lodge when an Indian lady brought in a red fish. Alan saw it was a Killie of some sort & looked like an annual. We have been trying to find these
for the past couple of years without luck. This year a day was spent looking all around the village of Tacana to try & find them again.
The water levels were still high making trails flooded in places. Streams were swollen & deep. Not the best time to look for Killies. Yet again we failed to find them.

We found these in very shallow puddles on a trail through Tacana village. The fish were literally jumping about.
Photos taken on my camera & not the best.
Male to the right, female above.

This fish was collected in 2012 at location 8. This area was only about 100 metres from where we collected the TACOL2013/11. As can be seen it is the same species. This one grew larger than R.rubrolineatus. I found them quite aggressive & laid larger eggs.

Photo courtesy of Gordon Temperley

Another bridge along the trail

Flooded trail into the jungle

Bridge along the trail

Collecting at km 9/10

This was a morning of collecting commercial fish. The biotope was an innocent looking river, quite shallow with a sandy base. Nice & easy to collect in I thought. Until I stepped on a gas pocket & went through it, disapearring in a jacuzzi of marsh gas. Not that pleasant but we managed to collect quite a few fish - Corydoras fowleri were big. These appear to be territorial & only a few loners were collected. Glass knife fish were quite plentiful here.

Glass Knife fish

Corydoras fowleri

Some of the catch

The river

Trip to Iquitos, Peru

Last year we went to Iquitos by Rapido, a fast boat which usually does the trip from Santa Rosa to Iquitos in around 10 hours. This year for a change we decided to take the float plane which does the trip in about 1 & a half hours.

The float plane at Santa Rosa

Climbing over the river

Over the jungle

Over Iquitos

Landed at Iquitos

Jaguar in Iquitos Zoo

Other Bits & Pieces

Amazon Whipsnake. Photo taken just outside the fish house.


Stick insect on the road.


This toad was making a home in the fish house.

Damsel Fly


Some Links
Thanks to Steve for putting us up at his lodge in Tacana, Leticia.
Thanks to Debbie for taking some of the photos on this page.
If this has whetted your apetite for a trip to the Amazon to see fish in there native habitat why not visit the Albergue Tacana website & book your adventure
where you can visit Colombia, Peru & Brazil. It's not just for fish enthusiasts you can also see fantastic birds, butterflies & of course the tropical rainforest.

'Mad Mick's' Iquitos Times newspaper
Tres Fronteras Acuario