Carachama

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Carachama (Psendorinelepis genibarbis) is a type of freshwater species that belongs to the Siluriformes group, commonly called ""catfish"". This fish is native to the Amazon basin, and can therefore be found from Brazil up until Peru.
The unusual shape of the carachama, along with its remarkable adaptability, have allowed this species to survive up until this day.
In Peru, this fish is highly diffused in the Peruvian Selva region, in the Loreto, Ucayali and San Martin Departments. During the wet season, it lives in the marshlands and in canals that form along the main waterways of the Peruvian Amazon rivers, such as the Madre de Dios which originates from the Cordillera Tres Cruces, approximately 4000 metres above sea level.

The carachama fish prefers swampy, shallow areas that are rich in vegetation and organic, decomposing residue. It is a night fish defined as xylophagous, or rather which mainly feeds off woody substances and insects that it finds inside wood. This characteristic makes it a particularly important fish from an ecological point of view, insofar as it performs a critical role in the decomposition of organic matter.

Another peculiar feature is the way it looks, which is rather unique: the body of the carachama, except for the head, is covered by a type of armour formed by a series of grey and black scales. Thanks to this armour, which serves as a protective shield, the carachama is able to resist against attacks by various predators populating the waters of the Amazon rivers. Just like other Siluriformi, this species is able to breathe and move towards better areas during the dry season. Local fishermen exploit this characteristic, positioning nets along the foreshore to capture the fish.

In Loreto, this fish is used as an ingredient to prepare fish soups such as ""chilcano de pescado""; this fish soup is also very popular in other areas, and is called ""timbuche"" in the Peruvian Selva, where it is prepared using freshwater fish found in the lakes of the Amazon basin. Moreover, additional ingredients are added to add flavour to the fish and soup tied to the Amazon tradition, such as ""long coriander"", also known as sacha culantro (Eryngium foetidum).

The carachama fish can also be prepared following the ""patarascha"" method: the whole fish is wrapped in a bijao leaf (Calathea lutea) flavoured with various aromas and cooked on the grill.
In recent decades, this fish has been at risk of extinction due to a number of factors: one of these is illegal fishing, but above all the pollution in the water basin, causing the death of several species, including this one.

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Territory

StatePeru
Region

Loreto

Madre de Dios

Ucayali

Other info

Categories

Fish, sea food and fish products

Nominated by:Dauro Mattia Zocchi, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino