If you’ve eaten fish from the jungle it’s likely you’ve tried Doncella. You’ll frequently find it on the menu at restaurants in areas such as Pucallpa, Tarapoto (San Martin), and in Iquitos. But have you ever wanted to know more about this popular fish?
This is one of the larger species of catfish that exist in South America. The Doncella, or Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, reaches sizes up to 1.3 meters in length and 15 kilos in weight. It has a long rounded body, and a compressed and flattened head, with a deep horizontal groove in its central region. The upper jaw projects slightly over the lower jaw. It has long whiskers that are longer than its head. The fish’s back is gray and its belly is white. Along its side you’ll notice that it has a series of stripes, and the fins are dotted with numerous small, dark spots.
The Doncella lives in river channels, lakes, lagoons, and flooded forests. It’s preferred environments are in areas that are protected by submerged trunks and branches or aquatic vegetation. It completes two types of annual migration: one at the end of winter going upstream, and another at the beginning of the rainy season when it travels downstream. The fish’s mating season extends from November to April, with a peak in February. It is a species of bottom predator that feeds on fish such as palometas, yahuarachis, boquichicos, bujurqui, and others.
Range of distribution
In Peru, it is commonly found in the main rivers of the lower jungle, such as the Ucayali, Maran on, Amazonas, Napo, Putumayo, Madre de Dios and lagoons attached. It can also be found in La Plata Basin, Suriname, and British Guiana. In Colombia, it can be found in the Magdalena, San Jorge, and Cuaca basins; in Brazil, the Tocantins River, the Santarem region.
Source: Field Guide for Flora and Fauna of Peru (Walter H. Wust)
Cover photo: Wikimedia