Creatures of the Amazon
The Rock Bacu

By Mike Collis

Lithodoras dorsalis = skin of stone
By Anthony Giardineli

The author with a 35 lbs Rock Bacu



The unusual scale formation of the Rock Bacu


This spectacular specimen of Rock Bacu or as it known here on the Amazon river of Peru, “Cawara Ladrillo” have a very interesting natural history. There is no match for any other fish in Amazonia when considering tough armor and spines. This Bacu is one of the largest armored catfish that can reach up to, and most likely exceed 20k and lengths of over 3 feet.

There is very little known of this particular catfish. It was known only through dried specimens to science less than 30 years ago. It turns out that locals have been eating them for thousands of years catching them in wire traps that close off sections of flooded forest where they primarily feed. The Bacu feeds heavily on seeds and fruits in the seasonally flooded forests throughout the Amazon basin. In this season of falling water levels, the majority of these fish will migrate further downstream as the “Igapó” * forests dry out. In this period they are omnivorous eating fish or aquatic vegetation as the fruits are no longer available.

This fish among other catfish are important seed dispersers of palms and other trees of the flooded forest. Some seeds are heavy and will not float off with a slight current it would get trapped close to the trunk, settling into the thick leaf litter. These fish are wired to respond to the sound of fruits falling, and they instantly investigate, consume any seeds they can find and swim off to “disperse” them later in a different location.

This particular specimen weighed in at 35 lbs. and was caught with live bait, rod and reel close to Otorongo Expeditions Jungle Lodge on the main channel of the Amazon River. I will not divulge the secret of how to catch these fish, but if you would like more information on trips to catch river fish like these Contact: otorongoexpeditions@gmail.com ... (They know the secret!)

Igapo* = Igapó is a word used in Brazil for blackwater-flooded Amazonian forests.
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