Fun Tambaqui Fish Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Tambaqui Fish Facts For Kids

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Our oceans are filled with wonderful and exotic marine creatures that surprise us with their appearance and habits. One such interesting aquatic species is the tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) which is a large freshwater fish that is native to South America. This fish species is one of the most important food sources for natives of the Amazon as it has a good taste and can grow up to 66 lb (29.9 kg) in weight. As a result, this Amazonian fish can be found in most Amazonian seafood restaurants and food stands in markets. When there are flooded forests, tambaqui species (colossoma macropomum) makes use of its keen sense of smell to locate their favorite fruits, nuts and seeds to feed on in the flooded forest. This wild fish loves nuts, which are incredibly good for them. They seize the opportunity in a flood to find their favorite nuts, fruits and seeds, how clever!

Tambaqui is one of the most popular commercial fish species in the flooded forest. Read on for some more interesting facts about the tambaqui fish species that can be found in Orinoco and Amazon basins. Afterwards, do check our other articles on danio facts and pearl danio facts as well.

Fun Tambaqui Fish Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Insects and snails

What do they eat?

Omnivores (insects, snail, zooplankton, fruits, plants and seeds)

Average litter size?

2-7 eggs

How much do they weigh?

60-66 lb (27-29 kg)

How long are they?

3.6-11.8 ft (1.09-3.5 m)

How tall are they?

Large size

What do they look like?

Black and gray body color

Skin Type

Wet and slimy scales

What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Extinct

Where you'll find them?



South America









Tambaqui Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a tambaqui?

Tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) is freshwater fish of the Serrasalmidae family. The tambaqui is the Amazon's largest fruit and seed eating characin. When the water level drops fast, adult colossoma macropomum fish leave the floodplains and spend the low water period in river channels. This is an omnivorous fish species that feasts on microscopic plants, fruits, snails, insects and seeds.

What class of animal does a tambaqui belong to?

Tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) belongs to the fish class of animals. They are cold-blooded animals. Gills are used to breathing for these creatures. Because they do not have eyelids, the surface of the eye must be moist at all times. Colossoma macropomum are also referred to as a dark pacu, black-finned pacu, huge pacu, cachama, gamitana and black pacu.

How many tambaqui are there in the world?

Overfishing has reduced the population size of the colossoma macropomum species by up to 90% in some regions of its range over the last several decades. But, at present, the conservation status of this species is that of not extinct. Efforts for their conservation are ongoing wherein the sale of young tambaqui fish is prohibited in urban markets.

Where does a tambaqui live?

Tambaqui fish (colossoma macropomum) natural habitat is located in tropical South America's Amazon and Orinoco basins, where it lives in Brazilian freshwater environments. Black pacu may be found all the way up to the headwaters of nutrient-rich whitewater rivers like the Madeira, Juruá, Putumayo and the Purus. When the water level falls rapidly, the adult fish moves to the flood plains and then spends most of their low water period in river channels. At the start of rising water, schools of tambaqui start to move upstream until spawning in the river channels at the start of the floods, thereafter they tend to migrate to flooded forests of all river types.

What is a tambaqui's habitat?

Tambaqui fish stays in the flooded Varzea woodlands of the white, clear and blackwater river igapo during the non-breeding season. During the flood season, they stay for four to seven months. The specific site of black pacu spawning in rivers is unknown, however, it appears to be along the banks of woody and grassy mounds. They can be found living in the Brazilian floodplain waters where the nurseries are located.

Who do tambaqui live with?

Colossoma macropomum is generally a solitary fish species, but during migration, several fish of this species migrate in big groups.

How long does a tambaqui live?

Tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) is one of the longest living fish species that lives for around 40 years but sometimes may live up to 65 years.

How do they reproduce?

Spawning of tambaqui takes place in whitewater rivers at the beginning of the high water season. Like most fishes, the tambaqui reproduces heterosexually, with separate male and female parents. Female tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) are egg-layers, and the male parent externally fertilizes the eggs. The female parent builds nests when the eggs are fertilized and cares for the babies before hatching. The female parent is also in charge of the freshly hatched offspring. Young fish feeds on zooplankton till the attain maturity but during the high water season, the young fish starts feeding on seeds and fruits. Though, after attaining adulthood, the adult fishes feed primarily on fruits and seeds.

What is their conservation status?

Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum) is currently not an extinct species as per the IUCN Red List. Overfishing, which is the primary cause of their population decline, is being addressed in various countries of South America. Unsustainable fishing practices have resulted in reduced population of this species. Efforts for their conservation are ongoing wherein the sale of young tambaqui fish is prohibited in urban markets.

Tambaqui Fun Facts

What do tambaqui look like?

Tambaqui look like piranhas; they have a plate-like appearance, with enormous eyes and an arched snout. Their upper back is speckled green, with a black lower and a grey belly. They have small pectoral fins, like trout and salmon, as well as an adipose fin.  They have an impressive dental armament and even though their human-kind enamel is razor-sharp, they might shatter your hands if you put them, hands in their mouth.

Tambaqui's upper back is a mottled green with black lower flanks leading to a grey belly.

How cute are they?

Colossoma macropomum are average-looking but are more appealing to look at them when they are in  freshwaters flapping their tiny fins.

How do they communicate?

There is no proper research on the communication techniques of tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) in particular. But in general, fish communicate by gesture and motion, as seen by the highly regulated synchronized swimming of fish. Some fish also emit compounds that can be detected by smell or taste.

How big is a tambaqui?

Tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) may grow to be ten times the size of an average fish. Their size range is between 3.6-11.8 ft (1.09-3.5 m) . Tambaqui is one of the largest fruit and seed eating fish species that is native to the Amazon.

How fast can a tambaqui swim?

Tambaqui speed range can swim at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 kph). Some tambaqui may swim hundreds of kilometers in a matter of days.

How much does a tambaqui weigh?

The tambaqui is America's biggest characin (the lighter Salminus can grow longer) and South America's second-largest scaled freshwater fish (after the arapaima). Tambaqui may weigh up to 97 lb (44 kg), thanks to its healthy diet of fruit, seeds, snails and insects.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for tambaqui based on sex. Gamitana are known as male tambaqui and female tambaqui respectively. Both the males and females play a crucial role in seed dispersal.

What would you call a baby tambaqui?

There is no specific name for baby tambaqui either. It’s simply called a baby tambaqui.

What do they eat?

Tambaqui are big eaters of water snails, which are the greatest protein-rich natural diet for them (Ampullariidae family – apple snails Pomacea and Planorbidae) and the gamitana also love eating  fruits and seeds whereas young fish eat a lot of zooplankton as part of their diet.

Are they poisonous?

No, gamitana are not poisonous. Tambaqui is a highly consumed fish in Brazil and in other parts of the world. Rather, they are widely used in aquaculture because of their ability to survive in mineral poor water.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the conditions of the tank that you might have at home might not be ideal for such a large ocean fish. Though, anglers like fishing for this species but restrictions are in place at various countries to maintain their population.

Did you know...

According to Dr. Goulding, the tambaqui is America's heaviest characin and South America's second-heaviest scaled is freshwater fish (after the arapaima).

To help it scent fruit, the tambaqui (colossoma macropomum) has formed nasal flaps on the upper part of its snout.

What do tambaqui need to survive?

Tambaqui requires freshwater to survive. When salinity is steadily increased, juveniles have the ability to withstand brackish waters. According to Dr. Goulding, water where salinity level exceeds the limit of 20 g per litre, is fatal for young tambaqui.

What eats tambaqui in the rainforest?

Humans are the main predators of gamitana. Large aquatic predators such as freshwater dolphins, huge otters and caimans are also present as predators for tambaqui fish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these pangasius fish facts and Nile perch facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our tambaqui coloring pages.

Written By
Kidadl Team

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