On Sunday 26 November 2000, my wife and I headed down to collect the Rio Tarma. The collecting location was a few miles west of the town of Mendoza near the village of Nueva Cua (so small it is not on the map). The exact location was under the bridge that crosses the Rio Tarma on the road between Ocumare Del Tuy and Cua.
This was a beautiul collecting location. The river, actually more of a stream, meanders down from the north side of The Serrania Del Interior into the Rio Tuy. The river is a series of riffles with a fair amount of current and wider sections with a gentle current. The banks were heavily vegetated which provided great shade to collect in. The main vegetation along the banks was large thickets of bamboo. The water was about 75F with a neutral pH and was tested at 70 ppm GH.
The substrate in the riffles was composed of well-rounded stones while the substrate of the slower sections consisted of small gravel and sand. The banks of the slower section had stands of anacharis growing about a foot out into the stream. Acara, diamond tetras, and various other teras were collected from these patches of vegetation as well as guppies. Kick seining the riffles was the most productive method of collecting loricariids. This was the first time my wife had handled a large (ten foot) seine and in about 30 minutes we were operating like a professional team. The following loricariids were collected from the riffles over the course of two hours:
- Ancistrus brevifilis (about 40 total) ranging from one to five inches SL
- Lasiancistrus sp. L92 from two to three inches. Very similar to L. brevispinis from Guyana
- Chaetostoma sp. (1)
- Hemiloricaria sp. (1)
The Ancistrus were collected from the riffles, along the banks, and among downed trees and driftwood. We also collected a few Hoplias and two small Pimelodella. The Rineloricaria, Acara, and Pimelodella appear to be the same or very similar spp. collected in the Rio Guarico and the Ancistrus brevifilis are exactly the same as the specimen collected from Cano Canoa. I still have to compare the Chaetostoma to those I have from the Rio Zuata to see if it is different. The headwaters of the Rio Tarma are only a mile or so from the headwaters of the Rio Zuata. The Rio Tarma takes the drainage from the northside of the Serrania Del Interior and runs north while the Zuata drains from the other side of the same mountain and runs south.
The highlight of the day was the largest male Ancistrus (5 inches SL). We were watching some locals catch Hypostomus (see part 7) and one of the guys saw that we were collecting Ancistrus (Barbon). He walked over to the bank and told me to follow. A piece of dead bamboo was hanging over the bank into the water. The guy placed his hand over the open end in the water and broke the piece off about two feet up. He then cracked the bamboo open to reveal the large male Ancistrus guarding 60-70 fry. Since their home was ruined, I collected the male and placed the fry in a quiet section of the stream. All I could think was that I had not brought a camera to capture this!
Also, a note of warning. While carrying this large Ancistrus to the collecting bucket he flexed his cheek odontodes. They were large enough that when he flexed, the odontodes punctured my thumb. It did not hurt very much but did draw blood.
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