August 27, 2016

Karma and the 100th Canadian species

Andrea wanted to catch a Trout. He asked his dad Stephano to ask me to take him Trout fishing.

Alright, Andrea, we'll see what we can do.

So I picked them up at 5am this morning and Andrea was excited like a kid who wants to catch a Trout.

But on the way, the 4am alarm puts the little dude to sleep.

He woke up just to see us pulling into our parking spot.

A little of a walk later, we were ready to fish. I showed Stephano how to rig up the rods with light lines and small floats. We started fishing.

It took a while for the fish to respond in the early morning light, but eventually a couple of Creek Chub came to bite. Little dude was pleased.

Eventually, little dude learned to cast and caught a couple of Creek Chub on his own!

But little dude wanted Trout. These aren't Trout!

The Trout were giving us a tough time. We searched high and low, fast and slow...and yet they did not reveal themselves. Finally, I hooked one and handed it off to little dude, but he was too excited and the rod was flinging everywhere while he reeled furiously. Eventually, the line tangled with some branches and the fish shook off.

We went back to searching for Trout. It took another hour before I hooked another. This time, I made sure little dude was in an open area and as soon as the Trout was within swinging range, it was swung up and onto shore. It's not getting away this time!

Little dude was very impressed with the beautiful Brown Trout. The fish gods were pleased.

After little dude caught his Trout, I changed out the float and simply cast the bait out and let it drift slowly along the bottom. I've netted some baby Sculpin last year. They were only 3/4 inch long and impossible to even target in the habitat where I found them. But knowing there were Sculpin here, I paid more attention to the rocky areas in front of me.

All of a sudden, I caught a little movement on a rock. Lo and behold, there was a little fish darting on a rock. At first, I thought it was a Darter species, perhaps a Johnny Darter. But the head looked a bit too broad, and the pectoral fins looked too wide. Hm...could this be?

Instead of catching it myself, I called my friend Kevin over to look at the fish, and suggested that he tried to catch it. He changed his rig to a tanago hook while I kept an eye on the fish. When the bait was finally presented, the fish quickly turned and gulped it up! We thought the hook was set well, but the fish came off halfway up to the surface.

Fearing that was the only chance, we frantically looked for the new location of the lost fish. Luckily, we found it again almost right on top of the same rock. When the fish saw the bait again, it gulped the fleck of nightcrawler skin greedily yet again. This time, Kevin made no mistake and we had a Sculpin in the micro photo tank!

But which species was it? Slimy or Mottled? The little fish would not cooperate and we still couldn't determine its identity after looking at it for a minute.

Well, I just have to catch another one to check. So I grabbed Kevin's rod while he started to photo document the fish. I looked carefully at every crevice, every little sandy patch, every moss covered rock, and finally found another one sitting in between two rocks. It took a little trick to get the bait to the bottom as there was a funny little current that kept pushing my bait off to the side. But when the fleck of nightcrawler skin was put close to the little fish's nose, it gulped it in!

In one smooth motion, I flicked my wrist to set the hook and then lifted it out onto the grass. Yes! I finally caught a Sculpin in Ontario!!!

This is a celebratory moment! Ever since I started species fishing, I have been searching creeks and river big and small, and lake shallows far and wide for these Sculpin. I've had zero success for years and years but I had never given up hope. I even spoke to DFO and MNR scientists who collected fish in the past for locations and habitat information...and yet came up empty-handed. A couple of years ago, I saw a flash and a glimpse of what I thought was a sculpin, but I could not identify it without doubt. Then last year, while I was fishing in this location, I was trying to net some micro minnows and dug into a muddy, weedy shallow where I found 3 juvenile Sculpin in the scoop. It gave me hope.

It is even more awesome that this is my 100th Canadian lifer species. I only know of one other person who has caught 100 species in Canada, and his name is Kazuhiro Fujiki - my fishing sensei - the person who nurtured me into a true species angler and a micro fishing aficionado.

Thank you little Mottled Sculpin. I am glad that out of all the species in Canada, you are the one that help me reach the century mark. You and I have been trying to get together for a long time, and we finally met!

Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdii) - Species #6hundred3tySomething (depends on further ID of Peru species)...but definitely 100th Canadian species!!!

The pelvic fins are NOT fused into a suction cup, indicating that this is a Sculpin species and NOT a Round Goby. There are 4 pelvic rays, indicating that this is a Mottled Sculpin and not a Slimy Sculpin (which has 3 pelvic rays).

And folks, that's instant karma for taking a child out to catch a fish he wanted to catch. Take a kid fishing!!!

August 18, 2016

Fishes of Peru

* This post is only temporary to provide access to photographs for fish identification. It will be removed later and replaced with detailed travel log. All identifications are putative until verified.

#1 - Acrobrycon ipanquianus - from Rio Urubamba between Hydroelectrica and Agua Calientes.


#2 - Serrasalmus rhombeus - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#3 - Pirapitinga (Piaractus brachypomus) - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#4 - Red Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#5 - Bloch's Catfish (Pimelodus blochii) - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#6 - Red Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#7 - Sorubim maniradii - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.

* According to a publication (http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2007f/zt01422p029.pdf), I ruled out S. cuspicaudus based on tail shape and ruled out S. elongatus based on anal fin ray count (22 for S. elongatus, I counted 19 for my fish, definitely not as high as 21-22). I ruled out Sorubim trigonocephalus as the upper jaw seems to be much longer in S. trigonocephalus from the reference pictures compared to my fish. But I cannot rule out S. lima.

Is that the premaxillary tooth path that I see that would support S. lima?


#8 - Cynodon gibbus - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#9 - Ageneiosus ucayalensis - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#10 - Serrasalmus rhombeus - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#11 - Triportheus angulatus - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#12 - Tetragonopterus argenteus - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#13 - Unknown - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.

This fish appears to have a healed injury to the dorsal fin which could confuse identification. Many have suggested Stethaprion erythrops. However, when comparing pictures online with this fish, S. erythrops has much larger scales and almost half the scale count (from the start of the dorsal fin to the lateral line in a diagonal row) than this fish. The Myleus genus has been suggested, but Myleus species has smaller scales and greater scale count.


#14 - Triportheus albus - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#15 - Flatwhiskered Catfish (Pinirampus pirinampu) - from main stem Amazon River about 1 hour from Iquitos.


#16 - Trahira (Hoplias malabaricus) - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#17 - Spotted Pike-characin (Boulengerella maculata) - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#18 - Trahira (Hoplias malabaricus) - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#19 - Spotted Pike-characin (Boulengerella maculata) - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#20 - Brycon melanopterus - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#21 - Mesonauta mirificus - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.

The 6th bar appeared divided, although the anterior 6th is much wider than usual, and the split between the two 6th bars are quite wide. The fish has 8 anal spines.


#22 - Crenicichla semicincta - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.

Pike cichlid species give me headache, especially since the photo doesn't show any helpful characteristics.


#23 - Leporinus moralesi - from a lake connected to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#24 - Blue Whale Catfish (Cetopsis coecutiens) - from main stem Amazon River about 1 hour from Iquitos.


#25 - Pterodoras granulosus - from main stem Amazon River about 1 hour from Iquitos.

This fish lacks a distinct dorsal ridge behind the dorsal fin.


#26 - Cichla monoculus - from a smaller lake connect to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#27 - Brycon cephalus - from a smaller lake connect to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#28 - Tucan Fish (Chalceus erythrurus) - from a smaller lake connect to the Amazon River through a seasonal creek.


#29 - Pterodoras granulosus - from main stem Amazon River about 1 hour from Iquitos.

This fish also lacks the dorsal ridge behind the dorsal fin. It was much darker than all other M. uranoscopus I've caught, but I suspect that it is just a colour variation between individuals.


#30 - Spotfin Hatchetfish (Thoracocharax stellatus) - from shallows of a tributary creek to the Amazon River.


#31 - Red Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) - from a medium size slow moving tributary to the Amazon River.


#32 - Serrasalmus rhombeus - from a medium size slow moving tributary to the Amazon River, around logs and floating vegetation.


#33 - Rhamdia quelen - from a medium size slow moving tributary to the Amazon River, around logs

There are several Rhamdia species in Peru but due to the lack of photos and descriptions, I cannot determine which species it was.


#34 - Hypselecara temporalis - from a medium size slow moving tributary to the Amazon River, around logs

The green back, scarlet Y shaped mark above the head and the long pelvic fins seems to be most consistent with H. temporalis among the cichlid species registered to exist in Peru on FishBase.


#35 - Unknown. - from a medium size slow moving tributary to the Amazon River, around logs

In this photo, I purposely exposed the subcutaneous predorsal spine that was evident in this specimen. Many have suggested Stethaprion erythrops. However, when comparing pictures online with this fish, S. erythrops has much larger scales and almost half the scale count (from the start of the dorsal fin to the lateral line in a diagonal row) than this fish. The Myleus genus has been suggested, but Myleus species has smaller scales and greater scale count.


#36 - Ageneiosus inermis - from a medium size slow moving tributary to the Amazon River, toward the mouth


#37 - Spotted sorubim (Pseudoplatystoma corruscans) - from a medium size slow moving tributary to the Amazon River, toward the mouth


#38 - Sorubim maniradii - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.

* According to a publication (http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2007f/zt01422p029.pdf), I ruled out S. cuspicaudus based on tail shape and ruled out S. elongatus based on anal fin ray count (22 for S. elongatus, I counted 19 for this fish although the view of the anal fin is poor and the count is at best approximated and off by +/- 1). I ruled out Sorubim trigonocephalus as the upper jaw seems to be much longer in S. trigonocephalus from the reference pictures compared to my fish. But I cannot rule out S. lima.


#39 - Pterodoras granulosus - from slow moving tributary of Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#40 - Brachyplatystoma vaillantii - from main stem Amazon River about 2 hours from Iquitos in tree debris area.


#41 - Flatwhiskered Catfish (Pinirampus pirinampu) - from main stem Amazon River about 2 hours from Iquitos in tree debris area.


#42 - Zamurito (Calophysus macropterus) - from main stem Amazon River about 2 hours from Iquitos in tree debris area.


#43 - Unknown - from main stem Amazon River about 2 hours from Iquitos in tree debris area.

I could tell it is not B. rousseauxii as the adipose fin is too long, and I could tell it is not P. pirinampu as the adipose fin is not long enough. Both species has much shorter whiskers as well. The head on this specimen also appeared too small for B. rousseauxii and P. pirinampu. However, I do not know which species it is yet...


#44 - Ctenobrycon hauxwellianus - from a small pond requiring a 30min hike from the main Amazon to reach. Pond does not appear to have an inlet or outlet. Habitat photo is provided below.


#45 - Aequidens teramerus - from a small pond requiring a 30min hike from the main Amazon to reach. Pond does not appear to have an inlet or outlet.


#46 - Cichlasoma amazonarum - from a small pond requiring a 30min hike from the main Amazon to reach. Pond does not appear to have an inlet or outlet.

I'm pretty sure of this now. It appears to have 4 anal spines and several rows of scales extending into the dorsal and anal fins rays.


#47 - Crenicichla semicincta - from a small pond requiring a 30min hike from the main Amazon to reach. Pond does not appear to have an inlet or outlet.


#48 - Brachychalcinus copei - from a small pond requiring a 30min hike from the main Amazon to reach. Pond does not appear to have an inlet or outlet.


#49 - Bujurquina syspilus - from a small tributary to the Amazon River

This specimen was caught in very shallow water with clay banks, wood debri and leaf littered bottom. There are many Bujurquina species from Peru, and B. syspilus seems most consistent with overall body shape, filaments on pelvic fins, and blue streaks on face, anal fin and caudal fins. Admittedly, photographs online are not very trustworthy.


#50 - Mylossoma aureum - from a small tributary to the Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.


#51 - Roeboides myersii - from a small tributary to the Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.

There are several similar species in Peru, but it appears R. myersii matches the best in overall body shape and length. This fish was about 9in long.


#52 - Pimelodella cristata - from a small tributary to the Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.

There are many Pimelodella species in Peru. P. cristata was the closest I've found to match the translucent fins and the crystal-like reflective body of this fish. This was a juvenile about 4in long only. It was caught among shallow wood debris from a clay bank area. The water was almost still and there was only 1ft visibility at best.


#53 - Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) - from a small tributary to the Amazon River 2 hours from Iquitos.

There is another Astronotus species in Peru, but it is found in the Madre del Dios drainage which is far from Iquitos.


#54 - Aimara (Hoplerythrinus unitaeniatus) - from a small artificial pond created by damming a small seasonal creek. Pond is replenished with fish species every few years by floods.


#55 - Erythrinus erythrinus - from a small artificial pond created by damming a small seasonal creek. Pond is replenished with fish species every few years by floods.


#56 - Bandtail Tetra (Moenkhausia dichroura) - from a small seasonal creek 2 hours from Iquitos.


#57 - Glass tetra (Moenkhausia oligolepis) - from a small seasonal creek 2 hours from Iquitos.


#58 - Moenkhausia chrysargyrea - from a small seasonal creek 2 hours from Iquitos.

Caught among M. oligolepis, but has a very faint humeral spot and lacks the dark blotch on caudal peduncle. Scales appears slightly smaller and less defined than M. oligolepis. Has slight yellow coloration on dorsal fin and anal fin.


#59 - Mesonauta mirificus - from a small seasonal creek 2 hours from Iquitos.

The 6th bar is split vertically and there are 8 anal spines.


#60 - Astyanax sp. - from a small seasonal creek 2 hours from Iquitos.

According to this publication (http://www.iiap.org.pe/Upload/Publicacion/PUBL286.pdf), this is an Astyanax sp. I'm still trying to determine which one.


#61 - Crenicichla lucius - from a small seasonal creek 2 hours from Iquitos.

This Pike Cichlid was the largest I've caught. It was about 9in in length. All the Pike Cichlid from this creek displayed very pale coloration.


#62 - Aequidens teramerus - from a small blackwater creek just outside of Iquitos city limits.


#63 - Leporinus moralesi - from a small blackwater creek just outside of Iquitos city limits.


#64 - Twospot Astyanax (Astyanax bimaculatus) - from a small blackwater creek just outside of Iquitos city limits.


#65 - Moenkhausia colletti - from a small blackwater creek just outside of Iquitos city limits.

This small Tetra species was a swift swimming in moderate current and competes favourably with larger Tetra species for food (or bait). They readily strike bait close to the surface and comfortable take a #26 hook.


#66 - Pimelodella sp. - from a small blackwater creek just outside of Iquitos city limits.

There are many Pimelodella species in Peru. All of them seems to share the same long whiskers and the black lateral band. However, this species seems to have a round dorsal fin that is tipped in white. We caught 6-7 species that all appeared the same. These were found at the tail portion of a small plunge pool, on a sandy/silty substrate out in the open. They can maintain their position in moderate current, and appeared unafraid by our presence. Other Pimelodella species appears to favour rocky areas and hide under rocks most of the time.


#67 - Moenkhausia lepidura - from a small blackwater creek just outside of Iquitos city limits.

These Tetra appear in schools near moderate to swift current. Individual photographed here was about 3in long. The body appeared to be a bit too skinny for M. lepidura, but it was the closest I can find based on coloration and pattern.