It was a hot sunny day as we parked the car on the side of the road; After getting out my fishing equipment I lugged a large green net, a 15 liter bucket, and a bag full of fish bags along with a smaller aquarium net as I crossed the highway, the wind blowing dust in my eyes and upsetting my hair.

We had stopped here because a little farther on was a river where I hoped to collect aquarium fish, and, if I was lucky, Apistogrammas.

I knew where the river was but I asked a man if there was another place where I could collect small fish, a tributary perhaps. Fortunately there was one and we headed in the direction he had pointed us to.

As we neared it the sounds of rushing water reached our ears, there was a waterfall that emptied into a little Clearwater pool, about 6 feet across and 25 feet long. It was chest deep and ended in another waterfall that in turn dumped into a rapid shallow stream heading off into the main river.  

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The stream was only ankle deep and about 4 feet wide with the water going way too fast for Apistos and most fish. The pool however immediately showed signs of life, and even Apistos.

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Apistogramma rupununi

Apistogramma rupununi


 After a couple of tries with my large clumsy net I got a fish, about an inch in length. I held it in my hand briefly, it was a juvenile Apistogramma, yes this was promising. I took pictures and put it into my bucket a fourth full of water. My immediate analysis was that I had caught a female gibbiceps and if I continued fishing I would probably get a male. I knew I was wrong when the only thing I got over and over again were females, No “males” at all! I will go on and tell you now what they were Apistogramma rupununi.

 The pool of water I was fishing in posed some serious difficulties to fish effectively, the water at the center was fairly deep and the banks were very steep, only certain areas were shallow enough for me and my large cumbersome net to work properly. Also the water was just deep enough, my net could not move as swiftly as necessary to catch the large (6 inch long) speedy tetras.

The stream
The stream

Along one of the banks, where some terrestrial grass had been flooded, I was able to catch a single small pencilfish, most likely Nannostomus marginatus. I put it in the bucket along with the Apistogramma rupununi and various aquatic plants.

Unfortunately there is only so many species of fish in a small pool and soon there wasn’t anything new coming up in the nets. I went down the stream and was able to catch a splash tetra along one of the banks. It was different from any others I had caught before (copella meinkeni).



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Time to move

When I thought I had had enough of that spot I decided to change spots. I walked a little farther on the road until I arrived at the main river to try my luck there. The river itself was about 40 feet wide.

After arriving beside it, I walked along the bank until I came to a little cove surrounded by many morichal palm trees of which some of the huge fronds had fallen off into the water, creating an ideal habitat for fish and other aquatic life.

A small inlet

A small inlet


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Morichal palms

Morichal palms


The first aquatic life were a shoal of tiny fish swimming at the surface. This species of fish have often watched me with its large eyes while collecting fish in their habitat, often swimming around me or through my legs. They usually stay in shoals of three or more but I have seen them in much larger groups not less then 50, they always stay within an inch of the surface in my experience. They have a shiny eye that is unusual and very attractive. Collecting them is easy as they are rather slow and vulnerable, once In a lake I caught hundreds of these little beauties simply by lifting the net up from underneath them. They are very sensitive however and do not do well in the aquarium (they also like to jump). As of yet I do not know what species it is.

Note the apistogramma in the net.

Note the apistogramma in the net.

My nets turned up many shrimp, and some more Apistogramma rupununi. It seems that the A. rupununi enjoy hanging out in the Morichal fronds and it was hard to get them from under them, but I succeeded in catching a few.

After the water turned from cloudy to mud from my activity in the water I figured a new spot was in order…

I was walking along the bank looking for a spot to fish when the ground started getting spongy. I didn’t think much of it until suddenly my foot sank 11 inches into the looses mud, it wasn’t any firmer then water practically! I tried to take a step out of it but only got another foot in the deep mud, I walked a ways and was ready to put up with the mud if only I could get some fish. There were no spots that I could find so I went back to dry land and was pretty happy to.

Knee deep in mud

Knee deep in mud

I wasn’t on dry land for long however, I decided to cross the river, as on the other side there was a stream running into the river (connected to the pool where I had fished earlier) and I wanted to sample there.

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In the middle of the river there was a sort of submerged sandbar, very close to the surface. I only had to wade until there, cross it and wade the remainder of the way, presto. I was in water up to my chest when I almost stumbled against the sandbar as it rose very steeply. I walked across in ankle deep water until suddenly the sand fell away under me feet, it was time to wade again. When I had got to the opposite shore I looked for a good place to begin fishing again.

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The stream was connected to the same pool as I had fished in earlier but it had broadened out and now was about 6 feet in width. The substrate was sand and there were long stringy algae growing sparsely here and there.

I walked up and down this stream looking for fish, or places that might have some. I saw a group of fish swimming into a terrestrial plant partly submerged, and I went to investigate. With my net I scooped up an adult A. rupununi about 2 inches long. I released it and continued.

I was looking around when on a clump of algae I saw a fish about an inch and a half long. It had a long thin body and a protruding snout. My adrenaline went crazy, it screamed predator all over it and I am especially fond of predators, and this one was so close I couldn’t miss it with my net, could I? I did, and it disappeared into thin… water.

I sat down realizing what I had just lost when suddenly it appeared again and this time I caught it. It came up jumping about and so afraid I would lose it again pounced and held it in my hand. Of all the things that I had thought it might be this was completely different. I had had it before, with a survival rate of about 0. would this juvi make it?
they were known to be sensitive. Oh well only one thing mattered at the moment. I was holding a juvenile peacock bass (Cichla sp.)

Peacock sp.

Peacock sp.

Once the juvenile Peacock bass was safely in its own bag I still had enough time to do some more fishing, this time, with hook and line.

I used a small bobber and some weights. The hook size was 8 and the line was 10 pound test.

The bait was live shrimp that I had caught. The first couple of tries ended in failure because of the swarms of tetras that would attack the bait and rip it off in a matter of seconds.

But finally I got the baited hook past he shoals of hungry tetras and suddenly the bobber shot down. Unfortunately I didn’t set the hook in time and the fish swam away, whatever it was.

Finally it was time to leave so I bagged up the pencilfish, Apistogramma rupununi, Peacock bass, a splash tetra and the other odds and ends I had collected.


Male apistogramma rupununi

Male apistogramma rupununi

Most of them made it home fine except for two rupununi and the peacock bass, they got fin rot and despite my efforts to save them, they parished. I still have some A. rupununi and splash tetras from the trip and I am enjoying them immensely though I still get the A. rupununi with my female A. gibbiceps in the same tank, oh well.



Male A. rupununi

Male A. rupununi

Female gibbiceps, see the similarities?

Female gibbiceps, see the similarities?


About Hudson

Fish enthusiast in the heart of the Amazon.

7 responses »

  1. Seasons says:

    Best you could change the page title Fish collecting outside of Manaus Hudson's world to more better for your content you write. I loved the blog post yet.

  2. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working ,great job!

  3. Hey Mike!

    Thanks for those ID’s, but you must admit Hudson is really in the coolest place on earth. Each time he goes on a “trip” I get green with Envy! We’ll see how widespread Apistos are when I am in Bolivia in the Summer. Good stuff as usual buddy!


  4. Mike Wise says:

    Excellent article again! BTW,your “female gibbiceps” is actually A. rupununi. The vertically striped tail is a dead giveaway that it isn’t A. gibbiceps Steindachneri-group species like rupununi show split bars on the posterior of the flanks when in threat display. It kind of makes them look somewhat like A. gibbiceps.


  5. Wow. How I envy you Hudson. Many of us at the Forum would kill to be in your shoes even for just a day! Good stuff! I can see a bright future for you my friend in the Fish World…


  6. Hudson says:

    Wow cool!!! isnt that laptop memos blog? He is a kid from the WP forums.

  7. Stef says:

    It’s interesting how you go out there and catch the fish. I used to collect fish as well, primarily betta fish.

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