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January 19, 2012

There are so many tributaries in Brazil that it is hard to distinguish the source for one of the major rivers in the country, the Rio Araguaia. The Araras mountain range, in the state of Mato Grosso, and the Divisões, in Goiás, are both believed to be the start of the 3000-mile journey through the Amazon. Other sources, however, state that the “river of macaws” actually comes from the Caiapó range at the borders of Goiás and Mato Grosso. Somewhere near the middle of the great river, the Araguaia splits into two forks and creates the Rio Javaés, which takes an eastern path; the western fork keeps the name of Araguaia. These two bodies of water will reunite later to create the world’s largest river island, the 217 mile long IIha do Bananal. Where the two waters meet, they create a 100,000-hectare of igapó (swamp forests), Cantão (oxbow lakes), and blackwater rivers. From there the mighty flow of the river moves northeast where it eventually comes to a junction with the Rio Tocantins.

The area where the Araguaia meets with the Javaés is one of the richest in biodiversity with over 700 species of birds and 300 species of fish. Among all of these lives this rarely imported cichlid, Laetacara araguaiae “Buckelkopf”. The German word “buckelkopf” translates into “humphead”, given for the male’s small little hump they grow as they mature to their 3” size. Females reach to a little over 2.5” and typically have smaller fins. Here, in the Araguaia, the dwarf cichlids spend their time searching for food, but now in your tank it will be a little easier for them to find food such as frozen bloodworms and flakes to keep that purple and yellow coloration on the body. Like most Laetacara types they are rather peaceful for a cichlid and can live with smaller fish like…

Laetacara araguaiae

Hyphessobrycon amandae “Ember Tetra”, a relatively new characin that was discovered in the Rio Araguaia over 15 years ago for the aquarium trade. It was named in honor of the explorer Heiko Bleher’s mother, Amanda Bleher. Here, in the peaceful tributaries, the bright orange tetras gather under floating aquatic plants in the blackwaters. Ember Tetras are one of the smallest in their family, not even growing to an inch in length. These tiny creatures will accept just about anything for food, but be sure to give higher protein foods like brine shrimp to keep their color glowing in your tank.

Hyphessobrycon amandae

Underneath these marvelous animals you’ll find the lovely little armored catfish known as Aspidoras spilotus. Aspidoras are closely related to relatives of the family Corydoras and the name derives from Greek for “shield skin”. These interesting specimens, however, take on a different nature by trying to shoal with their tank-mates. Aspidoras like to feed on frozen worms or pellets but will accept dried flakes, if any happen to make it past the Ember Tetras! All of these foods along with regular water changes will help to keep the bottom dwellers happy, and will also let them grow to their 1.5” size. Be sure to keep a group of them for your 20 long!

Aspidoras spilotus

That concludes our rafting adventure down the majestic “River of Macaws”, the Rio Araguaia! Until next week everyone!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager