Venezuela's geography includes a wide range of habitats for its numerous species of native fish. It is one of the most fishing diverse countries in South America. The popular fishing grounds in Venezuela include the Los Roques Archipelago, Rio Chico, and La Guaira Banks. The El Placer Bank holds an important species of fish including the billfish. Venezuela has a total of 1711 species of fish including 929 freshwater species. About ten species of fish have been introduced into the country while 68 species are endemic to Venezuela. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 37 species are threatened and might be extinct if measures are not taken to preserve them. Some of the native fish of Venezuela are detailed below.
The Venezuelan Herring, Jenkinsia parvula, is a fish species in the Family Clupeidae. Herrings are also classified under the ray-finned fishes which also include shads, hilsa, and sardines. Venezuelan Herring is endemic to Venezuela and are marine forage fish with no scales on the head. It can grow up to 45 centimeters in length and weigh 1.1 kilograms. It has a short lateral line and gill rakers in the mouth which assist in filtering incoming water. Venezuelan Herring spawn a huge number of eggs near the water surface. The larvae live among the plankton until they transform into adults and can to swim. Venezuelan Herring feed on small planktonic animals including krill and small fish.
The rainbow fish, also known as the guppy or Poecilia reticulata, is a widely distributed tropical fish and a popular freshwater aquarium fish species belonging to the Poeciliidae Family. The guppy is a highly adaptable fish which thrives in different ecological and environmental condition. It ranges in size, with the male being smaller in size at 1.5 to 3.5 centimeters in length, as compared to the female at 3 to 6 centimeters. The male has an ornamental caudal and dorsal fin while the female is characterized by dull colors. The guppies have 23 pairs of chromosomes with the Y-chromosomes responsible for the ornamentation in the male. They have a mating system known as polyandry with the female mating with several males. Guppies feed on plant fragments, algal remains, invertebrates, and aquatic insects.
Anduzi's Pencilfish, Nannostomus anduzei, is a freshwater fish species belonging to the Family Charasin. The species is native to Venezuela and Brazil ad it is mainly restricted to the Amazon region. Anduzi's Pencilfish is a small fish with a maximum length of 16 millimeters. It is strikingly colored with a golden brown skin and a gold stripe along the lateral line. It has a pair of red patches on the caudal and anal fin. The male is slimmer and has longer anal fin compared to the female. Anduzi's Pencilfish is an omnivore and feeds on small invertebrates, dried natural food, and algae. It has also been bred in captivity with the species thriving in a modest-sized aquarium.
Threats to the Fish of Venezuela
Water pollution due to oil reserve development, fertilizer runoffs from farms, and untreated waste are all major environmental concerns in Venezuela. The population of fish in these polluted water bodies is highly threatened. Pollution destroys the habitat for fish while some of the water pollutants contain some chemicals that are harmful the fish species. The periodic spills have also damaged some of the plants which are vital for the survival of some fish species. Captive breeding of some fish species including the guppies is also considered a threat to the survival of these species in their natural habitat. Overfishing and uncontrolled fishing have also affected the population of fish in Venezuela.