We went exploring by car on the afternoon of our first day in Puerto Inirida and traveled out to the village at the crossing of Can Vitina, a blackwater stream that flows into the Rio Atabapo. There was a party going on when we got there, so we could not collect fish at the main pool under the bridge. We were led to a trail upstream from the village to get to another section of the stream, but we never got to the main channel. The trail and the forest around it was flooded, and there were fish everywhere. After an hour of netting, the sun started to set and we had to leave.
Our boats were not ready the next morning, so we decided to go back to the same village now that the party was (hopefully) over. We had the stream to ourselves and the help of several kids from the village. I have never seen black water like this before! The light could only penetrate a few feet. I was able to shoot video near the banks, but not out in the deeper water. We found a lot of fish, including dwarf pike cichlids and cardinal tetras, but when the stream in is flood stage like this the actual catching of fish is hard to do.
Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Gomes resported to hook and line to find larger pike cichlids. The local boys got into the action and were a lot better at catching fish than we were. We made a deal with them to catch pike cichlids for us all week, and we would buy them when we came back to the city at the end of the week.
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I’m back!!! I just returned from a couple weeks of traveling, first to Mexico for a little touring and aquarium-related fun (videos will be forthcoming), and then some family R&R for the holiday. But now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Episode 10 of the Colombia 2016 picks up the trip as we arrive in Puerto Inirida for our first look at the blackwater rivers of eastern Colombia. Puerto Inirida is a nice little city with a lot of friendly people. It is the gateway to the rivers of the confluence region, and where all of the fish from the area come to before being shipped to Bogota exporters. This is the place we want to be!
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Episode 8 features my last day out exploring the waters of the Llanos region of Colombia. We had already seen a lot of really cools fish on the trip, but almost no catfish. I had really hoped to see some Corydoras sp. while in the Llanos, because there are so many species from that area in the hobby. Most notably, Corydoras metae. So I asked Hernando and Allesandro to take me to a place we would find them… Enjoy.
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This episode of Colombia 2016 revisits the ditch habitat from Episode 6, which has inspired me to aquascape an aquarium to give the impression of that ditch. Trying to recreate a specific ‘biotope’ in an aquarium is very hard to do… I actually think it is impossible, but there will always be someone willing to make it happen. A ‘biotope’ aquarium, in my opinion, is an impression of a habitat that looks as close as possible, but is also manageable. For example, trying to maintain an aquarium with several inches of organic mud on the bottom is not a good idea. Sometimes getting the actual species of plants or fish is also impossible, so another species that is similar is used to fill that niche. The idea is to have an aquarium that gives the impression of the biotope. When I look at this aquarium, I am reminded of the Llanos ditch. That is the effect I am after.
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This episode takes us to a very small blackwater stream that is really more of a flooded ditch just off the main flow of a larger river. The creek is choked with plants, and finding a place with enough open water to film is difficult. There are a lot of really cool little fish in this stream, including an undescribed tetra that looks like a dusky-bodied silver tip tetra. There are also a lot more Apistogramma alacrina at this location, including many females with fry.
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This episode of Colombia 2016 takes us back onto the Llanos to search for Apistogramma alacrina. Our plan was to spend most of the morning on the Rio Guejar, a larger river with a lot of cool fish, but the water was too high and muddy after overnight rains. We then retraced our steps and visited a few streams on the way back to Villavicencio. The first stop was a stream near the town of San Juan des Arama, a place close to the type locality of A. alacrina. That stream is the focus of this video… Enjoy.
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Two of my goals while visiting Colombia were to see how a fish shipment is packed for export out of the country and to follow the path of altum angelfish from the river to the export, in hopes of learning something that will help us be more successful with this amazing angelfish species. This video will show an afternoon spent in an exporter, Colombia Aquarium, and also investigate the water parameters in which altum angels are held and shipped.
I was very surprised to see the pH with the altum angels under 4.0. That is really low! Especially since I have been told by several people that the water in Bogota, where the fish are shipped from, is harder and more alkaline. I do not know any importer, wholesaler or store in the USA that is maintaining tanks with pH that low for these fish. Not many hobbyists can manage it either. I do not believe altum angels need the pH that low long-term, but they may need the acidity while acclimating to life in an aquarium. Enjoy the video…
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My adventures in Colombia really got rolling on my first full day in Villavicencio. The plan was to hit the road at 5:30 AM and drive straight out to Hernando’s fish farm about 2 hours away, and then stop at a few places to look for fish on the way back. The weather was crappy, with rain all night and a slight drizzle at dawn that lasted most of the morning. But a big delay was caused by someone parking Hernando into his garage, so we were not able to leave until the owner of the offending vehicle was found and the car moved. This is something that we chalk up to ‘COWA’… Colombia Wins Again… which means that annoying things will happen, there is nothing we can do about them, so just move on and do not get upset. COWA was a BIGLY part of this trip.
The late start meant that we had to deal with more traffic on the roads, so we were slower getting out of town. We hit the countryside about 8:30 in the morning, a time when we had intended to already be at the fish farm. The plan changed to trying to find filming locations while we had good light and work our way to the fish farm later in the day. We can return to the city in the evening. There is no sense driving when the conditions are good for filming.
But… COWA… the conditions are not all that good for filming. The rain stopped mid-morning, but the skies remained overcast. All the rain had blown out the streams, and each creek we passed was flooded and muddy. Hernando and Allesandro (a fish collector along to help out) were concerned that we were not going to find any place to film at all.
I, on the other hand, was having a great time. Yes, I wanted to collect fish and get some good video, but this day was also my first real foray into the countryside of the Llanos. Everything that I saw was new to me. I think that my bird watching was annoying Hernando and Allesandro a bit (after spending two weeks with Hernando, I think he became at least a closet birder), but I added 32 species to my life list that day.
The aquarium gods were watching and took pity on us, because the stream that would be our best chance at finding Apistogramma veijita, the Cano Potosi, was running low and clear, even while streams a kilometer away were blown out and muddy. I have no explanation, but I am thankful that this stream turning out to be such a great place to see fish.
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Enjoy the video…
Colombia has been a dream destination for me for many years, ever since I started importing fish from there in the late 1980’s. But traveling to Colombia back in those days, especially from the USA, was not a good idea. Times have changed. Colombia is a much safer place to travel and is poised to become one of the biggest destinations in the world for ecotourism. I fulfilled my dream in December 2016, and I have promised myself to go again… many times!
I was in Colombia for two weeks and visited to areas of the country. The llanos region in the headwaters of the Rio Meta and Rio Guaviare, near the city of Villavicencio one the edge of the easter slope of the Andes mountains. And the confluence region near the city of Puerto Inirida, where the Rio Inirida, Rio Guaviare and Rio Atabapo come together and join the mighty Rio Orinoco as it leaves the interior of Venezuela. I will present this trip is a series of videos, of which the first episode is presented here. I am not sure how many videos the whole trip will require, but I shot a LOT of footage.
The trip was sponsored by three companies that have been instrumental in the advancement of the aquarium hobby, and their contributions to this project are greatly appreciated:
Episode 1 will set the stage for the entire trip. My goal is to publish a new episode each week, probably on a Sunday. Each episode will be previewed here on the vlog site telling you some more detail about the episode, so here is a great place to view the series. But I also appreciate the sharing of this video on FaceBook and subscribing to the Ted Judy YouTube Channel. Enjoy…