Fishes are the most diverse and species-rich group of vertebrate animals. The waters of Guyana are home to over 700 species of fishes, most of which are known from the Essequibo River basin, although the Upper Essequibo, including the Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area (COCA), has been little studied. During the RAP survey, over 110 species of fishes were recorded in the COCA (including several species new to science), but this number most likely represents only a small portion of the actual fish diversity of this area.
Fishes are exceedingly important members of aquatic communities, both as predators and herbivores, and as a source of food for other organisms, including reptiles, birds, and mammals. For the community living within the Konashen COCA, fishes are probably the most important source of animal protein. Their abundance and the ease with which they can be caught makes them a reliable and renewable staple, and at least 50 species are regularly harvested by the Wai Wai.
The Bearded catfish (Pseudancistrus barbatus
) is a small fish (up to 20 cm long), common among rocks of river rapids within the Essequibo River basin. Populations of this fish have a hierarchical structure, where the status of males is determined by the length of their snout bristles.
This species is fished in shallow waters using harpoons and bows.IN DEPTH: See all of the fish team's findings from the Konashen COCA expedition
The Armored catfish (Ancistrus lithurgicus
) is a small fish (13 cm long) with little value as a commercial species. It is a bottom feeder, but very little is known about its biology.
This species is known only from the Essequibo River basin in Guyana. Learn more about this discovery >>
Haimara (Hoplias aimara), also known as Aymara, are large, predaceous fish, which can reach 100 cm (over 3 feet) in length and weigh up to 40 kg. They feed mostly on other fish, but are known to attack any small animal that falls into the water. Haimara are active mostly at dusk and at night.
This fish species is one of the species most frequently caught by the Wai Wai community. Haimara populations within the COCA appear to be healthy, but a noticeable decline in haimara abundance has already occurred near Masakenari village.
Lukanani (Cichla ocellaris), also known as Parana, is a large cichlid fish. Cichlids are known for well developed parental care over eggs and newly hatched fry. Individuals of this species can grow to a length of over 70 cm (2.3 feet) and a weight of nearly 7 kg. Lukanani often form schools in quiet waters with medium depth and rocky substrates.
This species has been introduced from its native northern South America to Central America, the United States, and Africa, where it sometimes becomes a pest.