Native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of South America, the tambaqui has also been reported in Florida, Hawaii, California and Texas, where all introductions were probably from aquarium releases.
Tambaqui are oval-shaped fishes with distinctive counter-shading, being black ventrally and golden to olive or moss green dorsally. The pattern varies with the water type, with darker colors in dark rivers and lighter, duller hues in turbid water. Tambaqui look like their sharp-tooth cousins, the piranhas, but they possess a unique dentition. The teeth are multicusped molariform and incisive teeth. Tambaqui posses no maxillary teeth in contrast to the pirapitinga (Colossoma bidens) and all Brycon species. There are two rows of teeth in the upper jaw and pair of conical teeth behind the row of teeth in the lower jaw. The strong jaws and teeth enable them to crush large and often quite hard fruits and seeds of rubber trees and palm trees upon which they feed. A secondary feeding adaptation found in the mouth of the tambaqui is long and fine gillrakers that are used, especially in young fish in feeding on zooplankton.
At flood times, tambaqui are found in the flooded forests. During the dry season, they stay in rivers and fishing becomes more productive. Anglers locate tambaqui by finding a tree with ripe fruit or seeds; there fish can be found waiting to devour the fruit as it falls into the water. Fruits and seeds or imitations of them are used as bait and the most suitable tackle is medium to heavy, for tambaqui are fish of brutal force and endurance that can grow to 50 kg (110 lb).
Subsistence fishermen often wait beneath the trees where they harpoon the giant characins when they surface to take the floating seeds. This fish is the largest characin in the region and is an important food fish as well as an angling target. There's a high demand for this species for aquaculture because it can live in mineral poor waters and is very resistant to diseases
Current All Tackle Record
71 lbs 7oz ( 32.4 kg)
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