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Xingú 2014

Xingú 2014

The Belo Monte corporation, in conjunction with the Brazilian Government, is in the process of building the world's third largest hydroelectric dam on a major tributary of the Amazon; the Xingú River - one of the most biologically diverse waterways on the planet and home to many well-known aquarium fish. Known as the Belo Monte Dam Complex, this project will divert 80% of the Xingú's current water flow, in effect flooding over 1,500 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest, not to mention the aquatic and other wildlife that inhabit that area. An estimated 50,000 people will also be displaced as a result of the project, including 1,000 indigenous inhabitants from culturally-significant communities that have lived along this waterway for many generations.

As responsible fish keepers, Fluval wanted to educate aquatic consumers about the profound affects the dam will have on the local environment and ultimately, our hobby, as certain fish species (i.e. Zebra pleco, Hypancistrus zebra) are estimated to perish from the dramatic changes in water chemistry that will come about from the flooding (i.e. pH, water type, temperature, introduction of organic matter such as rotting trees, etc.).

We invite you to follow Fluval brand ambassador Oliver Lucanus as he travels to Brazil, alongside top scientists in ichthyology and other fields from Brazil, Canada and the U.S., to assess and document the Rió Xingú before this rich ecosystem is altered forever.

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This island is the only known habitat for Pituna Xingúensis, and will be flooded by the dam
Aquarium fish exports among few employment opportunities for locals
The Xingú River is also famous for black stingrays
Local homesteaders, known as “caboclos,” live in very basic conditions along the river
This island is the only known habitat for Pituna Xingúensis, and will be flooded by the dam
The gigantic powerhouse of the dam project at Belo Monte is nearing completion
Billboard advertising the Belo Monte dam
Six carts full of food feed 20 hungry scientists for one week!
Loading endless amounts of gear and luggage into the boats can be a challenge
Finally on the river, just upstream of the city where the rapids begin
In danger of extinction, the Pituna Xingúensis
Tarps shield the tents and hammocks from rain and humidity
Drs. Mark Sabaj Perez and Nathan Lujan examine and tag a recent catch
Zippers and tents must be kept closed at all times to avoid unwanted nighttime visitors
Students from INPA (Manaus) and University of Para help to process the fish
Falls at the end of the Rio Iriri
With one of the coolest mega-fish of Brazil, the Trairao wolfish (Hoplias Aimara)
Gnathodolus Bidens live only in the lower rapids
Leporellus Vittatus is widespread in the Amazon, but difficult to keep
A cast net used by skilled fishermen to collect Leporinus
Crenicichla marmorata in slower moving water is found in the lower Xingú near Altamira
Crenicichla spec., the orange pike, is one of the nicest looking fish in the river
Crenicichla spec. is specialized in eating plecos
Teleocichla cindarella, one of many species of this dwarf cichlid, in the shallow water
Hookah diving systems allow divers to catch L 34 in 7-15 m depth
Odontodes on the gills of an adult male Ancistrus ranunculus
Hypancistrus zebra is unique to the area impacted by the dam - will it survive?
Spotted crabs are found in the deeper waters of the rapids and grow to a very large size
Shoreline shrimp are common in the slow moving water
A seine net from the shoreline often captures different species
Diversity and variance between Hypancistrus collected at the same location
My tent, right next to a school of Corydoras species
Ossubtus xinguense in the rapids of the Xingú river - now on the IUCN Red List
Collecting gold nuggets in the rapids of the Xingú
Between 5-15cm (2-6”), this pleco species is a beauty
Fish from below the rapids near Belo Monte show no spotting at all, or only very little
A beautiful aquarium fish that requires much more attention than it is often afforded
Oligancistrus species
One of rarest species, Scobiancistrus spec. L 82
Panaque armbrusteri, the Royal pleco, L 27
The Pseudacanthicus spec. “L 25”, the red demon pleco
Hyacinth McCaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthicus) return to their night roost
Vulture again trying to get to the buffet before opening hours
Geophagus altifrons in an aquarium
The last rapids that lead to the lowlands
Someone has to clean all the wood and roots, leave this to the Hypotopoma spec.
Xingú team photo at the banks of the Xingú
Vandellia, the infamous Candiru… not a pleasant thought
Acanthicus hystrix is commonly found in the Amazon lowland
Hypancistrus spec. (L 333) is one of few endemic Xingú fish

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