Native Fish Of Colombia

A talking catfish (Acanthodoras spinosissimus).
A talking catfish (Acanthodoras spinosissimus).

Colombia has a variety of fish species, and most of them are native to the country, some even being endemic. The species vary in size, appearance, and behavior. Some of the fish found in Colombia include the toxic Talking catfish, the electric Cuchillo, and the beautiful Cardinal Tetra.

Talking Catfish

The Talking catfish (Acanthodoras spinosissimus) is a freshwater fish. The species is a thorny catfish found in the Amazon and Essequibo River basins, occurring in Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, and Peru. The species grows to 13.7 centimeters (5.4 in) and can be found in the aquarium trade. This species is reported to produce toxic fluids. It is a nocturnal feeder. Talking catfish feeds on frozen and live aquatic foods, earthworms, and dried food (pellets).

Gilded Catfish

The Gilded catfish (Zungaro zungaro) is a freshwater fish. It is a South American catfish found in the bed of big tributaries with muddy bottoms and it is an aggressive fish species. The fish is native to Amazon River basin, Orinoco, and Colombia. Gilded catfish can reach 140 centimeters (55 inches) in length and weigh 10 kilograms at the time of maturity. Gilded catfish weighing up to 50 kilograms is not rare. It hunts at night and mainly feed on smaller fish. Gilded catfish may go to flood-prone areas of rivers. The species nursery ground is at the mouths of rivers.

Cardial Tetra

The Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi) is a freshwater fish and it is native to Colombia, the Orinoco, and Negro River Basins in South America. The Cardinal Tetra is closely related to the neon tetra species. The fish grows to a length of 3 centimeters (1.2 inches). The fish has a striking blue line and the body below a vivid red. The species is a popular aquarium fish. The cardinal tetra feeds in areas of shallow and slow-moving waters. It is mainly predator and feeds on tiny animals such as small crustaceans, worms, fly larvae, and insect eggs. The fish is not aggressive and school in groups of six. The fish is delicate and requires slightly acidic water and warm temperature of between 26 and 28 degrees Celsius.

Banjo Catfish

The Banjo Catfish ( Xyliphius lepturus) is a South American species found in the Upper Amazon, Colombia, Ecuador and Orinoco River Basins. Its overall appearance is that of a piece of wood. It grows to a length of 13.2 centimeters. The fish is hardly visible and hides most of the day. It is one of the rarest fish and is also kept in aquariums.


The Cuchillo (Gymnotus choco) is an electric knife fish found in the Baudó River on the Pacific Slopes of Colombia, as well as in other rivers of the Atrato Basin. It grows to a length of 26 centimeters. The fish can generate electric fields. The scales of the fish are circular or oval in shape, and its lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw

Green Dwarf Tetra

The Green Dwarf Tetra (Odontocharacidium aphanes) is a South American fish species found in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. It is a freshwater fish species that grows to a maximum length of 1.6 centimeters.

Colombia provides an ideal environment for multiple fish species to survive. The fish provide an important livelihood for fishermen in the area. Some of the fish species are very delicate and do not thrive outside their natural environment. Some of the threats to the fish are fishermen, aggressive fish species, and water pollution.

The Native Fish Of Colombia

Notable Native Fish Species of ColombiaScientific Name
Talking CatfishAcanthodoras spinosissimus
Gilded CatfishZungaro zungaro
Cardinal TetraParacheirodon axelrodi
Banjo CatfishXyliphius lepturus
Atrato Armored CatfishDasyloricaria latiura
Tayrona BlennyEmblemariopsis tayrona
CuchilloGymnotus choco
Green Dwarf TetraOdontocharacidium aphanes
Lake Maracaibo Armored CatfishLasiancistrus guacharote
Masked HamletHypoplectrus providencianus

More in Environment