Dourada (Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii) 6-7cm
Found in a number of habitat-types, though rarely in smaller tributaries, generally preferring deeper, flowing channels through which it travels for considerable distances at certain times of the year. Like other large, migratory pimelodids these movements are typically associated with nutrient-rich, white water drainages rather than nutrient-poor black waters.
When the Amazon begins to rise at the start of the wet season, freshwater is pushed into its delta and the normally brackish waters recede, allowing juveniles and sexually-immature adults of several migratory catfish species, including B. rousseauxii, to enter the area and feed on polychaetes, bivalves, crustaceans, and other fishes.
This rich feeding ground is exploited until the seawater returns, at which point the catfishes begin to migrate upstream in massive numbers, moving up the Amazon and its tributaries. Sexually mature individuals are not normally recorded during these events so they’re thought related to feeding and dispersal rather than spawning. The fish are subject to intensive capture by commercial and artisanal fishing operations during this upstream movement.
Spawning occurs in often-distant headwaters and the fry are washed downstream to the delta, a process estimated to take 13-20 days. Juveniles then remain in the estuary region for around three years, entering the delta to feed when conditions permit. They then move into the lower and middle Amazon where they may remain for a further year as they continue to feed and grow.
Following this period of growth schools of adults begin to form and make their way into headwaters in order to spawn. There is no single spawning ground for a given species, rather there appear to exist distinct populations in different watersheds, and there exists evidence to suggest that individuals may return to the particular tributary in which they were born to spawn.
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