Fish - More than 200 species in Tambopata

28 August 2021 (1229 visits)

The forests of southern Peru we help to conserve are uniquely diverse. Their vast river and wetland systems sustain a staggering variety of animal and plant species. Within Tambopata National Reserve, the presence has been reported of some 632 species of birds, 1200 butterfly species, 103 amphibians, 103 reptiles and 169 mammals.


As our eco-lodge guests ride our boats on the rivers and lakes of Tambopata, they are of course watching for typical Amazon rainforest animals, trees and plants. Few travelers who visit Tambopata realize that there is abundant life below the waters they are traveling on.


According to Peruvian scientists, beneath their surface the rivers, streams and lakes of Tambopata are home to an estimated 232 species of fish. The Tambopata River rises on the slopes of the eastern Andes, before flowing for an approximate length of 402 km and emptying into the Madre de Dios River, at the confluence close to the town of Puerto Maldonado. The waters of the Tambopata transport a heavy nutrient load, making it a highly productive ecosystem.


Distinctive habitats are present along the river, including pools, oxbow lakes, streams and rapids. Pools are restricted to lower lying areas along the beaches and on the floodplain. They are temporary, disappearing in the dry season, but are still often home to an abundance of aquatic fauna. Streams crisscross the forests of Tambopata. They range from large creeks with deep, meandering channels and muddy bottoms, to narrower channels, enclosed by dense forest, with black or clear water, and sand, mud or stone beds. An oxbow lake is a permanent body of water, formed from an old meander which has lost its connection to the river. Typically, oxbow lakes maintain contact with the river through a narrow channel, but evolve to exhibit a distinct morphology. These bodies of water left behind as rivers alter their course offer some of the best opportunities to spot Amazon wildlife.


This variety of aquatic ecosystems offers a range of habitats for different species of fish. Some species are distributed throughout rivers and streams, while others are exclusive to lakes. In their turn, these fish support other life higher up the food chain, including the endangered giant river otter.


The largest fish found in the waters of Tambopata –and the second largest freshwater fish in the world after the European beluga–is the paiche. This giant can grow to more than 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length and weigh in excess of two hundred and fifty kilograms (550 pounds). Piranhas also inhabit the waters of Tambopata. Although they have a fearsome reputation, piranhas are far from voracious, and some piranha species actually rely mostly on plant matter for their diet!


Other fascinating inhabitants of Tambopata’s waterways include the tiny candiru, which like the piranha is not as dangerous to humans as is often reported. The electric eel also makes its home in Tambopata. Said to be capable of producing a charge of up to 800 volts, electric eels are not actually eels at all; what we call the electric eel evolved its slithery form entirely independently of eels, and it is a member of the South American knife fish family.


At Tambopata Ecolodge, we operate our responsible ecotourism activities in the primary forests we help to protect, which is why we're located so far from Puerto Maldonado, the jungle town surrounded by secondary, disturbed forest, where we meet our guests from their flights. Through our sustainable ecotourism based conservation model, we conserve and protect our own Private Conservation Area, as well as inviting our guests to enjoy the adjacent Tambopata National Reserve. Out of respect for the natural environment we help to protect, we don't offer fishing activities or other adventure activities harmful to wildlife. We want our guests to come and appreciate nature in untouched forests where Amazon fauna lives undisturbed and in complete safety.




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Check out the itineraries we offer:

rainforest EXPERIENCE

3 days (USD 494.00)

rainforest EXPLORER

4 days (USD 677.00)

rainforest ENCOUNTER

4 days (USD 761.00)

rainforest ADVENTURE

4 days (USD 932.00)

rainforest JOURNEY

4 days (USD 1148.00)

rainforest EXPEDITION

5 days (USD 1370.00)

What your rainforest visit means

In Peru ecotourism has helped make it possible to create national reserves and save the forests of the Amazon basin from destruction. By implementing our ecotourism-based conservation model (see our video), we are ensuring the forests will be around for future generations to appreciate. Pioneering projects like Tambopata Ecolodge, which was established in 1991, serve as a conservation model, by showing how responsible ecotourism can support conservation initiatives.
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