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Collecting in Pebas, Río Orosa and Río Shishita 2008

In October 2008, I visited the Peruvian Amazon again, exploring
dwarf cichlid habitats and collecting fish ( among other things ).
This time I had the pleasure of having Mike Wise accompanying me.

From the jungle capital Iquitos, we carried out several expeditions to examine
different biotopes, fish and their habitats.

On one of these expeditions we went to Pebas, east of Iquitos. 
Our trip to Pebas this time, was motivated by the rumors of a fish the local people called Apistogramma "Negra", and pictures of an Apistogramma, with A. sp. Pebas-colors, and strange formed split bars (reminding of Apistogramma cf. eunotus) that we had seen.

In Iquitos, Peru

In October 2008, I was in Iquitos, Peru, again.

This map shows where it's located, in the Peruvian Amazon:

A closer look at the eastern surroundings of Iquitos: 

In order to save a lot of time (but not money!), we this time booked seats in a "rapido"
(a small, very fast boat) from Iquitos to Pebas.

In Pebas

After only 4 hours after leaving Iquitos, we reached the Río Ampíyacu,
which enter the Amazon river at the town of Pebas.

Río Ampíyacu, and the town of Pebas at the right:

The tower-house is the atelier and house of the famous painter Francisco Grippa:

We installed ourselves in the only hotel in Pebas.:

It had been painted outside since my last visit in 2006.
The same hotel in 2006:

The rooms are very luxurious :-)








We immediately left this overwhelming luxury, and went out of the town.

We crossed some fields with water buffaloes, and looked at this:









We tried the net, and .........



Apistogramma sp. "Pebas" ("Morado")
was shining in blue colors
in the net. What a catch !

The water:
pH: 5,91 
Conductivity: 30 µSiemens/cm
T: 32,5 °C
(at the end of the dry season)

This is fish I collected in the same waters in 2006







Not at all showing the same amounts of blue colors........

On our way back to Pebas, we collected some nice, blue tetras in this small stream.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of them.....







Back at the hotel, we were served dinner.


The owner of the hotel said we would have
Paiche (Arapaima gigas), but it looked and
tasted like Black Caiman ;-).

As usual served with fried bananas, rice
and vegetables.



We were planning the next expedition the next morning, so we had some time to spend this afternoon.


We went to the tower-house of the famous
painter Francisco Grippa

The people there allowed us to enter the tower





Through the windows I could see some
of his paintings






From the top of the tower, we could see the Río Ampíyacu entering the huge Río Amazonas

More photos taken from the tower















The artist himself was not at home, but amazingly the people looking after his house,
allowed us to enter inside the house




























We didn't stay up late, as we were going on an expedition quite early the next morning. 


Apistogramma "Negra" in Río Orosa  ("Negra" means "black") 

We (our fisherman) knew that a fish called "Apistogramma Negra" were living in the Río Orosa drainage,
not so far from the town Huanta, at the mouth of Río Orosa.
We just "had to" collect this fish, to see what it was like.

We would have to cross over the Río Amazonas, and enter the jungle
somewhere upstreams the town of Huanta.

We hired a local fisherman with a "pequi-pequi" (small boat with a small outboard engine) to take us there.

Next morning we were up at 06:00, had breakfast, and at 07:00: off we went.

The driver and owner of the boat                                                 Crossing the Río Amazonas









After three hours we could
see the Isla Huanta 








The erosion is constantly
breaking down the banks
of Rio Amazonas






Getting closer


















We passed the small town
of Huanta









After a while we found a place where we
could leave our boat, found a boy who
could look after it.....



and walked into the very hot and very humid jungle



























with the bugs






with the trees you wouldn't like to lean on











with the young palms 












and with the vet ground covered with
humid, dead, leaves  







These ferns are usually seen where the
ground and water are quite acid







The Philodendron spp. we often keep as
house plants, lives here







The same is the case with this
Dieffenbachia sp.



We also found some small streams where we tried the nets, without very interesting results.... 









until we came to this


and we got these in the net













The dark appearance and the blackish color on the gill cover have given this fish its local name;
Apistogramma "Negra (black)".
According to Mike (Wise), it looks to be the A. sp. Albertini form of
A. cf. eunotus "Schwanzstreifen/Tail-stripes"


Strange enough, not all the males showed a distinct pattern of rows of spots in the caudal fin:

The water:
pH: 5,03 
Conductivity: 13 µSiemens/cm
T: 30,1 °C

(at the end of the dry season)

The walk back was very, very hot, and after a while we were very warm, very thirsty and very tired. We found a wild pineapple, and our local guide prepared it for us, with his machete, on a leaf...... that h
elped a lot










On our way back, we stopped for a (not very)
cold coke in Huanta





Huge Pistia stratiotes are floating in the
Rio Amazonas



Then we sat in the boat for three and a half hours before we again were in Pebas.



Back in Pebas, we found that some of
the nice tetras we collected in Rio Orosa,
didn't make it....but the apistos were fine.




Fortunately, we arrived in Pebas just before a veritable tropical storm swept over the area 

         It was raining outside the hotel......                                              ....... and inside













We had supper outside, under a canopy;
jungle soup with chicken.

Again we planned to start early the next
day, so no night clubs for these guys......



Río Shishita



The yellow spots show where we were heading
to Río Shishita. 






We had seen pictures of an Apistogramma
with strange split bars and A. sp. "Pebas" -
like colors.

We wanted to find it, collect it and see it alive....




At 07:00 we were at Pebas "harbor", ready to leave, in the same boat as the day before.















After more than one hour from Pebas, south-east down-streams the Río Amazonas, we reached
the mouth of Río Shishita








and we entered the Río Shishita, and went upstreams 







Going upstreams the Río Shishita:





















....and going upstreams the Río Shishita......


















....and going upstreams on the Río Shishita......for several hours.....



































.... bend ..... after bend ..... after bend ......



































Nesting caves for swallows in the
low water season, for catfish
when the water is high







We passed the mouth of
Río Pavayacu, entering
the Río Shishita.

15 minutes upstreams this river one can find Río Curutu, with it's
recognizable Apistogramma
bitaeniata "Curutu"



As the water was extremely low, it became more and more difficult to manoeuvre the boat between all the trees and branches in the river 





















At last we could see the house where
we were going to spend the night







and we could eat with the family
living there

Rice, beans and bananas



and then: out in the jungle






After a while, in heavy rain, we were
looking at this  







The first catch didn't look very promising,
a couple of Laetacara thayeri (?)





but under the leaves in
the net:




Apistogramma bitaeniata
with yellow chest and
shining blue color on the
gill cover and in the face:
a color morph usually
collected in Río Curutu.
(A. bitaeniata "Curutu")

(To locate the Río Curutu:
see above). 




There were also some
Apistogramma agassizii






With its reddish caudal fin
and overall blue color, it
is quite similar to the
color form locally called
Apistogramma agassizii "Red-blue",
which I
collected in Río Nanay
in 2005





Amazingly, there were also
a third Apistogramma - species in the net.
Some A. cf - eunotus - like

Could we find males ? 





Yes, we could!

Look at the strange split





This is a new member of
the A.- eunotus-complex
and the A.-eunotus-subcomplex within this complex.

Apistogramma cf. eunotus


It shows body colors very similar to Apistogramma
sp. "Pebas".

Could this be the "missing link"
connecting the
and the
A. -sp. Pebas-subcomplex ?

The water:

pH: 5,64 
Conductivity: 37 µSiemens/cm
T: 26,1 °C

(after heavy rain,
at the end of the dry season)

Not all the animals in the
area are exotic....







Everywhere there are
trees with flowers or fruits







These beautiful birds are
seen in small numbers all over the area.

Latin name:
Myiozetetes similis

English name:
Social Flycatcher 





These very lively birds
make nests resembling
the nests of the weaver
birds in Africa.

Latin name:
Casicus cela

English name: 
Yellow-rumped cacique















In the house, our hosts kept a skull of the South American Tapir, Tapirus terrestris.
The South American Tapir can attain a body length of 1.8 to 2.5 m (6 to 8 ft) and 270 kg (595 lbs) in weight. It stands somewhere between 77 to 108 cm (2.5 to 3.5 feet) at the shoulder..







For a while, it stopped raining.










but soon the sky darkened again






Huge epiphytic plants high up in
the trees where waiting for their
daily shower 

The rain was coming back, and it darkened........






A lot of rain during the night, but next morning was beautiful ! 




Río Shishita at 05:50 a.m.




At breakfast we had company of a parrot kept as a pet






Flowering trees and bushes everywhere







We used our boat and went further up the river, and entered the jungle at the other side of the river




to this biotope











The surroundings











and we found what we
were after:
The tiny Characin locally called "Picaflor" or "Colibri Red"







The water:
pH: 5,32 
Conductivity: 21 µSiemens/cm
T: 24,0 °C
(after heavy rain,
at the end of the dry season)





Some of them showed
more red colors than
others: Males ?






They were collected together with some
Nannostomus (cf.)




Quite dense vegetation in
this biotope







Ground living plants
flower too 






and unknown species of
butterflies everywhere






This fruit, Achiote (Bixa orellana),
is well known to the locals:
It is used by the local Indians, to paint their faces or bodies





It gives an intense red
color to the skin......
and it was not easily
removed when first applied 




These reminds me of some kind of Strelitza spp.









and some other creatures.....













Wild lime (Citrus latifolia) tastes good when in the jungle 







This overgrown fallen tree
is a bridge over a small
We climbed down to where
the water (and hopefully
some fish) was....




It was difficult to use
the net here






but we found fish







Apistogramma bitaeniata "Shishita"








and females  

The water:
pH: 5,01 
Conductivity: 27 µSiemens/cm
T: 25,7 °C
(after heavy rain,
at the end of the dry season)




and as usual, when collecting in very small streams with shallow
water: knifefish 








Then we left our hosts,
and went downstream
the Río Shishita 


After all the rain, the water was much higher, and we had no problems with trees and branches in the river

After some hours, we were out in the Río Amazonas again. 


During the low-water season, local
people grow rice at the shores.

When the water rise, these shores are
overflooded, and at the same time
fertilized with new mud.

Some places they can harvest the rice
twice, before the water rises




At this time, at the end of
the low-water season,
people are busy harvesting
the rice.  

One or two more high-water seasons, and the erosion will probably mean the end of these trees




Everywhere in the Río Amazonas, we see Water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, floating by.









Sometimes several of them
float together, on their long
journey towards the
Atlantic ocean 






Unfortunately, this habitat
of the Water hyacinth
looks more and more like
this; filled with garbage






and the same is the case
with the habitat of
Pistia stratiotes floating
in the Río Amazonas






Finally, we were back at
"our" hotel in Pebas 









and I noticed that I had got a "new" blanket on my bed  :-)










Early the next day we went back to Iquitos again, with a "rapido".

And after resting a bit, we where preparing for the next expedition..........


Thanks to my very good friends, Francisco and Sergio,
who helped us with everything !