Tag Archive: AM11

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines (turtles)
Family: Pelomedusidae (Afro-American Side-necked Turtles)

Genus/species: Podocnemis expansa

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The side-necked turtles have a long neck which can be withdrawn horizontally within the shell, leaving it partly exposed.  P. expansa is the largest river turtle in South America. Its Carapace is broad, flat; wider in the back than the front and olive-green to brown in color. Males smaller than females, which can weigh up to 90 kg (200 lbs). 

Carpace length up to: 80 cm (32 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern South America: Amazon, Negro and Orinoco River basins. Found in freshwater; large rivers and their tributaries, lagoons and forest ponds. Restricted to calm waters of large rivers during the dry season, but move into the flooded forest where food is plentiful during the high-water season.

DIET IN THE WILD: Aquatic vegetation and fruit, insects and slow-moving prey and carrion. Mutual cleaning behaviour between individuals of this species has been observed. One turtle will position itself at right angles to a second turtle and use its jaws to pull algae from its shell. The turtles will then switch position

REPRODUCTION: During the dry season the Arrau River turtle migrates to nesting sites on beaches. Females dig a nest in which they lay 75-125 spherical eggs, and then cover them with sand. After about 45 days, hatchlings emerge, usually at night or early morning to avoid midday heat and predators, and head directly to water. Colonial nesting and simultaneous hatching helps maximize survival numbers of this perilous journey.

MORTALITY: Can live up to 50 years.

CONSERVATION:  IUCN: Lower Risk/conservation dependent. CITES Appendix II. P. expansa eggs and adults have been over-collected for food. These turtles are considered rare throughout the Amazon. Middle Orinoco River has included the protection of nesting beaches, a nursery program for the care and release of hatchlings, and an environmental education program for the public.

REMARKS: A fossil Pelomdusid is thought to be the largest freshwater turtle to have ever lived (carapace length: 230 cm). Even today, the Arrau is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. As a side-necked turtle it has a long neck which can be withdrawn horizontally within the shell, leaving it partly exposed a vertical ‘S’ bend , rather than retracting it as in most other turtles (all North American turtles are not side-necked). 

“Art,” as we call our senior turtle (Weight: 20 kg or 44 lbs. Age: unknown.) was confiscated in Miami and came to the SF Zoo via the Miami Metro Zoo in 1997 by government import authorities . The turtle is on loan to us until the zoo has an appropriate location for it.  Several younger turtles ha subsequently joined our senior turtle.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

Ron’s flickr link  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449490716/

eol Encyclopedia of Life  http://eol.org/pages/6868408/details

IUCN Red List and CITES Appendix II  http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/17822/0

Archive http://www.arkive.org/giant-south-american-turtle/podocnemis-expansa/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-au

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Cichlidae (Cichlids)
Subfamily: Cichlasomatinae

Genus/species: Hypselecara temporalis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Chocolate Cichlid is an egg-shaped fish with a small mouth. The eye iris may range in color from amber-gold to bright red. Body color is a mustard-yellow with a large, characteristic black blotch at the mid-section of the body and often a horizontal stripe. On the caudal peduncle are some similar, but smaller markings. The belly and throat regions are bright red as is the area near the gill covering and the surrounding parts of the eye. The fins are red with some mustard-yellow areas.  

Length up to 15 cm, (5-8 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in South America: Amazon River basin In slow flowing, turbid waters.

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds on insects at or above the surface.

REPRODUCTION: H. temporalis sexes are separate. Adult males grow larger and have a hump on their head. Fertilization external. Eggs are deposited upon vertical substrates and guarded by both parents. 


CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List and CITES: Not Evaluated


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/12323

 eol Encyclopedia of life http://eol.org/pages/212750/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink:  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-b0

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15442981620/in/set-72157620568438047/

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes),
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Cichlidae (Cichlids).

Genus/species: Heros appendiculatus aka Heros efasciatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The compressed body is silvery; five black vertical bars punctuate the lower half of its flanks, a sixth extends to its dorsal fin. (Wild type: wild-type olive-green)

Length up to 14 cm (5.5 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Native to the Amazon River basin to Upper Orinoco River drainage in Colombia and Venezuela. Green Severum are found in lakes, standing water, or slow-moving water with copious vegetation. Look for young around tree roots.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed on fruits, seeds, green algae and detritus.

REPRODUCTION: H. appendiculatus are guarders, clutch tenders. Up to 1000 eggs are depoited on flat stones or on roots; both parents participate in caring for eggs and larvae.

Green Severum (juvenile) below




California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

Ron’s WordPress shortlink: http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-9x

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/8358691491/in/set-72157620568438047/

 fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/52199

 Encyclopedia of life  eol.org/pages/203885/details



Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Characiformes (Characins)
Family: Anostomidae (Headstanders)

Genus/species: Leporinus fasciatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Black-Banded Leporinus has alternating colored bands of black and yellow. This striking pattern also suggests the age of a fish. Until about a year old, the juvenile has only five black bands, but about every six months later a band will split in two. At three years, the leporinus will have 10 bands, and the yellow will have a more orange cast. Females are larger than males.

Length up to 30 cm (12 in); 15 cm (6 in) is more common

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Widely distributed in South America, from Guiana and the Orinoco region to the La Plata basin. Its natural habitat is rocky areas of fast-flowing streams and rivers, though it often migrates into flooded forest areas during the rainy season.

L.fasciatus has been introduced into the US states of Florida and Hawaii.


DIET IN THE WILD: Small invertebrates such as worms, insects, and crustaceans as well as other fish and plant matter. Like all members of its family, L. fasciatus very often positions itself had down (headstanders) to feed in rocky crevices or nibble on algae and green plants.

REPRODUCTION: The species is reported to build nests where the female lays eggs, which are guarded by the male. (fishbase)

MORTALITY and LONGEVITY: Life span: 5 years or more.


CONSERVATION: IUCN Redlist and CITES; Not Evaluated 

REMARKS: Leporinus (”rabbit”) relates to this fish’s two prominent front teeth The species is also known to leap out of the water, so perhaps its name has more than one reference point!


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Leporinus-fasciatus.html

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink   http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-9j

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/2973195125/in/set-72157620568438047/

EOL www.eol.org/pages/220772/details

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Osteoglossidae (Bonytongues)

Genus/species: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum

 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The silvery body is covered with very big scales, and the dorsal and anal fins are almost fused with the caudal fin. They have a bony tongue with a huge oblique mouth and oral bones bearing teeth, including the jaw, palate, tongue and pharynx. Two barbels are found at the end of the lower jaw.

The Silver Arawana is a large fish with a length up to 1.2 m (4 ft) and weight up to 4.6 kg (10 lbs).

Silver ArawansIMG_1974

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: This fish is found in tropical freshwater, and is especially prevalent in flooded areas and swamps in the Amazon River system. It is capable of adapting to environments with low oxygen levels.

DIET IN THE WILD: O. bicirrhosum feed mainly on crustaceans, insects, smaller fishes, and other animals that float on the water; its upturned mouth is an adaptation for surface feeding. Sometimes called the “water monkey” for its jumping abilities, Silver Arawana have been known to leap some 2 m (6.5 ft) out of the water to pluck a surprised and often doomed insect or bird from overhanging branches. Bats and snakes have also been occasionally found as stomach contents.

REPRODUCTION: Interestingly, the Arawana male is a mouth brooder carrying eggs, larvae, and young juveniles in his mouth for about 2 months.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List; Not Evaluated
CITES: No special status

REMARKS: Arawana provide the largest source of protein in comparison to other Amazon fish. Also, because of its low-fat content, they are considered the most digestible and least likely to bring about sickness.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15007803584/in/album-72157620568438047/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink   http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-a0

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Osteoglossum-bicirrhosum.html

 Animal Diversity web animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Osteoglossum_bici…

 “It’s Easy Being Green” Docent Course. California Academy of Sciences 2014




Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Characiformes (Characins)
Family: Serrasalmidae

Genus/species: Metynnis hypsauchen

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Almost circular in profile; juveniles may be spotted or striped; adults solidly silver with anal and caudal fins edged in red or orange. Length : 15.0 cm (6 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical South America primarily Amazon and Orinoco basins. Found in calm river reaches overhung by foliage.

DIET IN THE WILD: Generally herbivorous, eating leaves of river plants; occasionally eats worms and small insects.

REPRODUCTION: Group spawners. Eggs hatch in 3 days.


REMARKS: A schooling species related to piranhas.
Possesses powerful dentition that can cause serious bites.

Amazon Flooded Tunnel AM11


Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/6343628168/in/set-72157620568438047/

fishbase  fishbase.org/summary/Metynnis-hypsauchen.html

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/217649/details

Ron’sWordpress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-cl


Cichla ocellaris (Cichlidae)  Cichlid

Female below.

DISTRIBUTION: Amazon, Orinoco, and La Plata basins in South America. Currently established in southern Florida.

HABITAT: Warm freshwater.

APPEARANCE: Elongate body with deeply notched dorsal fin, large mouth with projecting lower jaw. Color: olive-green fading ventrally to yellow-white, with three dark vertical bars on sides and series of dark spots in between. A large black spot encircled by silver adorns the caudal fin. Max. length: 60 cm. Male has a lump no top of the skull.

DIET: Diurnal feeders on other fishes. High speed pursuit predators.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: Substrate spawner. Both parents guard their clutch for about 9 weeks. Like most cichlids, breeding pairs are highly territorial and aggressive.

REMARKS: Legally introduced to Florida. Are considered a prized sport and food fish.

LOCATION: Flooded amazon tunnel, AM11

WORDPRESS SHORTLINK  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-b9

Male below; note lump on top of the skull.

Apistogramma eunotus       Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes),Perciformes (Perch-likes) , Cichlidae (Cichlids)

DISTRIBUTION: Native to the western Amazon basin in the area around the Peruvian/Brazilian border. It’s found in the tributary systems of several rivers, including the Rio Ucayali, Rio Yavarí, Rio Japurá and the Amazon itself.

HABITAT: Slow-moving streams, creeks and tributaries, as well as smaller rivers.

APPEARANCE: Maximum length 3.5″ (male) 3″ (female).  The male is the larger fish and has much more prominent coloring, especially the blue markings around the gill area that give this fish its common name. The male also has elongated dorsal and anal fins.

DIET: A. eunotus is a micropredator. Their main prey items consist of insect larvae, fry of other fishes and other invertebrates

REMARKS:  Apistogramma is a genus of approximately a hundred species of fish from the family Cichlidae found in tropical areas of the Amazon basin and Venezuela. Apistogramma literally means “irregular lateral line” referring to a common trait of the species under this taxon. Most species are strongly sexually dimorphic.

Location: Flooded Amazon Tunnel, AM11

WORDPRESS SHORTLINK:  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-ad

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