THE BIG BAD WOLF
A BRUTAL FISH
As I was about to write this article, I turned on the TV and tuned in to Animal Planet, where by coincidence, River Monster was coming on. In this episode host Jeremy Wade traveled to Brokopondo Reservoir in the remote jungles of Suriname where he interviewed a diver who was brutally attacked by a fish. The victim claimed the fish was the much-feared “Anjumara,” a little-known fish that is even more vicious and aggressive than the supposed flesh-eating piranha.
The Anjumara is the wolf fish. It is one of the more popular fishes that monster fish collectors all over the world aspire to own. Wolf fish are South American freshwater fishes belonging to the genus Hoplias (H).
Q: WHY ARE THEY CALLED WOLF FISH?
A: Because of the formidable teeth that are set in their massive jaws. And just like wolves, wolf fish are natural born killers. Forget piranhas; the wolf fish has acquired the monikers “Piranha Killer” and “Piranha Destroyer” among fishkeeping circles because of its reputation.
Currently, there are eleven species of wolf fish: H. aimara, H. australis, H. brasiliensis, H. curupira, H. intermedius, H. lacerdae, H. malabaricus, H. microcephalus, H. microlepis, H. patana, and H. teres.
The most popular among them is the H. malabaricus since it is the most commonly available in the market. But the biggest and baddest among them all is H. aimara. When the natives refer to the “Anjumara,” which evokes fear in them, without a doubt, they are referring to H. aimara. The H. aimara is more commonly called the Giant Wolf fish or Giant Trahira (as Trahira is another local name for Wolf Fish). The word “Giant” is emphasized since H aimaras are known to reach over a meter in length with the largest ever captured at 1.2 meters long and weighing 40 kilograms. First described by French zoologist Achille Valenciennes in 1847 from specimens collected in French Guiana, the H. aimara is present across most of the northern parts of South America, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname, including Rio Tocantins, Rio Xingu, Rio Tapajos, Rio Jar, and Rio Trombetas, and is also found in coastal drainages in the Guyanas, Suriname, and state of Amapa, Brazil. H. aimara lives in habitats that range from large rivers, rapids, waterfalls, and flooded forest floor environments.