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April 05, 2013

¡Hola! Amigo, y bienvenidos a Peru! Yes, welcome to the country of Peru! We really need to teach you some Spanish. We’re going to be visiting here a lot after all. There are many fish here and with several exporters based in Iquitos it’s simply easy to export fish back to us in good old Portland, Oregon. The trip from one end of the world to the other was quite exhausting, but we are adventurers, we can sleep later. I promise that maybe you can go home after this trip. Maybe… I have a little surprise for us when we get passed the city of Honda on highway 50. This journey is going to define the word “epic”. Here’s our driver now. Let’s go!

We have a few hour boat rides towards the village of Tamshiyacu, which means we’ll be arriving as the sun settles in the east. Plenty of time to suit up for a night dive. Yes, amigo, you heard me correctly. Tonight we will be getting a little dangerous with a night dive in the Río Amazonás. Now I know this is going to sound crazy, but come on, this is going to be awesome! No, you’re right. This is crazy. I have a huge suspicion that we’ll run into one of my favorite freshwater fish, well stingray really, Potamotrygon motoro “Ocelatte River Ray”. The Motoro ray is one of 17 species of freshwater stingrays that have evolved from their saltwater cousins, but spend their entire lives completely in freshwater. The name Potamotrygon derives from the two Latin words - ‘Potamos’ meaning ‘river’, and ‘trygon’ meaning ‘three angles’ which is a reference to the body shape.

Potamotrygon motoro

These fish have a very large natural range of several countries in South America including - Venezeula, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and the southern countries Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. Depending on the region they can grow to nearly 3 feet across. This, of course, usually only typical of wild fish and most aquarium specimens usually do not exceed 24”. That’s still nothing to take lightly though. If you are planning to keep these exceptional animals, then I suggest you have the tank space to house them.  To allow proper movement of the fish, the footprint of the aquarium should be at least three feet on the shortest side.

For those of you who were wondering, it is possible to sex them. Males have a pair of appendages known as “claspers” located right behind the pectoral fins. When the animals become three years of age (nearly impossible to know for wild caught individuals) they become sexually mature. Male Motoros are known to be very aggressive during the courtship. He will chase the potential female, often nipping at the edge of her disc, in an attempt to get under her. If he’s successful the pair’s bellies will be touching and he’ll use his claspers to inject his “milt”. Once he has impregnated a female she will give live birth to 1-8 “pups” about 3 months later. The pair will usually leave the pups alone, but it may be wise to remove them to ensure they grow up to be as big as their parents. If spawning does not take place fairly soon I would suggest separating the two to avoid injury to the female. You should know that this has only been accomplished in aquaria by experienced aquarists. I would not advice taking on this task unless you have the tank space and knowledge to attempt such a task.

Potamotrygon motoro

We will need to be extremely careful during this dive. Stingrays are the cause of more than 2000 injuries a year in Colombia. The locals of these countries fear these animals more than they do other potential predators in the water – including Piranhas. The river rays are among the top predators in these ecosystems, and usually hunt at night while the other fish are “sleeping”. I think I’ve all but exhausted my speech for now, and this looks like a great place to dive. This boat has several spot lights on it. We should be more than okay at this depth. The fish finder shows it’s only 8-9 meters deep here. The lights should be able to penetrate deep enough down for us. After a double check of our equipment I’d say it’s green for go time. Are you ready for this? Ese es el espíritu, amigo! Nos vemos en el fondo!

Now THAT was incredible! Did you see the size of that Piraíba (Brachyplatystoma filamentosum)? That thing must have been over 6’ long! But I think the best part was when you nearly landed on a Black Caiman. The look on both of your faces was priceless. I got a feeling that how quickly he got out of there meant you scared him more than he scared you. Hahaha. Oh man. I’m sorry to laugh about it, but it was kind of priceless. This trip was great, and not to mention how successful we were in collecting 4 perfect specimens of Motoros. This is going to be great when we get them back home! I think that was the best idea I’ve had yet. It’s got to be sometime after midnight by now. Let’s get them back to base for shipping home. We need to get some rest. I have a feeling we’re not quite done here yet.

Adiós,

y nos vemos en la próxima inmersión!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager