Argentina is a beautiful country in South America. It is the eighth largest country in the world based on land area. It is one of the most biodiverse countries on the entire globe. So, it only makes sense that Argentina would have some spectacular fish species that you’d love to learn about!
1. Argentine Hake
While this fish is called the Argentine hake, it is actually found off the coast of both Argentina and neighboring Uruguay. They can grow up to 37 inches long but are most commonly closer to 25 inches long. These fish spend most of their time at ocean depths between 300 and 650 feet and eat other fish, including others of their own species, as well as crustaceans and squid. They have a migration pattern of going south in the spring and north in the fall.
Argentine hake is popular for commercial fishing and is one of the top fish exports of Argentina. It is similar to cod in that it is a white, flaky fish when cooked, and it is slightly sweeter than cod. It is also low in harmful HDL cholesterol and high in healthier LDL cholesterol. Hake is often used in an Argentinean fish stew dish called chupín de pescado.
2. Patagonian Toothfish
The Patagonian toothfish is a carnivorous fish with teeth that can grow up to 220 pounds. However, the average fish caught for commercial purposes is closer to 20 pounds. These fish can live for up to 50 years and grow up to 7.5 feet long.
They are mainly found in the ocean around the southern coast of South America, an area known as Patagonia which is part of both Chile and Argentina. They have also been found near Macquarie Island, which is just off the coast of New Zealand, and one stray Patagonian toothfish was found near Greenland.
Young Patagonian toothfish live at shallower depths between 500 and 1300 feet for about six or seven years while they mature. When they get older, they migrate down to around 3,000 feet where they spawn and live the rest of their lives.
This fish is also popular for eating. When it is exported to the United States and Canada it is often marketed as “Chilean sea bass,” along with its cousin the Antarctic toothfish. However, in the UK it has been given the name icefish, which is confusing because there is another fish species with that name.
Greenpeace has placed the Patagonian toothfish on their “red” list. This means that the fish is more likely than others to come from fisheries with unsustainable practices. However, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List has specific fisheries with good practices from which it is safe to source Patagonian toothfish, aka Chilean sea bass.
3. Buenos Aires Tetra
The Buenos Aires tetra is a popular fish to keep as a pet, as are other tetra species. They are small fish that grow up to three inches. They are well known for their reddish fins and silvery, iridescent bodies. In the wild, they are found in lakes, streams, and ponds in Argentina, Paraguay, and parts of Brazil. They live in groups called schools and they eat worms, insects, and plants.
Tetras have become popular pet fish because they are easy to care for. They can live in water temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees, so you can have them in a heated or unheated tank. They will eat pretty much any fish food as fish flakes, live food, or fresh fish food. According to experts, feeding them colorful foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp will help them to maintain their red coloring. The only special consideration for the Buenos Aires tetra as a pet is that you need to have a good cover for the tank. They are great jumpers and may jump out of the tank if it is not properly covered. Additionally, they love to munch on plants, so it’s recommended that owners use fake plants in the tank. However, you can provide them with fresh spinach and lettuce to snack on.
4. White Dotted Skate
The white-dotted skate is a ray found in the oceans off the coast of Argentina, Uruguay, and the Falkland Islands, as well as sometimes off the coast of Chile. They can grow up to around 15 inches long. They have a limited diet of only 14 species of invertebrates, mainly feeding on worms. Their limited food sources, along with other environmental factors may be a reason why their population is declining. They are listed as a species that is vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
5. Argentinean Sand Perch
The Argentinean sand perch is a fish that likes to live in rocky and sandy areas near the bottom of the sea. These fish grow up to 3.3 feet long and weigh up to 22 pounds, but not much more information is known about this species. They are considered vulnerable in the wild because they have a low rate of reproduction. They are sometimes sold for their meat in markets, but it is not a popular fish for cooking due to its rarity.
6. South American Lungfish
The South American lungfish is also known by the names American mud-fish and scaly salamanderfish. It is found in swamps and slower-moving areas of three South American rivers: the Amazon, the Paraguay, and the Parana. Both the Paraguay and Parana rivers run through Argentina, meaning you can find lungfish there.
Young South American lungfish are black with golden spots. The young eat snails and insect larvae. As they age and become mature, the body becomes fully grey or brown. The adults eat snails, insect larvae, algae, and shrimp. Their body is shaped more like an eel than what you might think of as fish. They can grow up to four feet long.
The most unique thing about this fish species is that they must breathe air through their lungs from time to time to supplement the oxygen they obtain from the water. The fact that they can surface to breathe air allows them to survive droughts in water with very low oxygen content or even in mud. However, if they fully dry out, they will not be able to survive.
7. Parana River Argentine Banjo Catfish
The Parana River Argentine banjo catfish is a species of catfish that grows to be about 3.5 inches long. It is found in the Parana River and is native to this area. It is one of 43 species of banjo catfish in South America. Other names for these fish include guitarra catfish and burrowing catfish. They are named for the shape of their body because it is shaped like a banjo. These fish move slowly and live in slower-moving water. They eat anything they can catch. These small fish can easily be mistaken for a piece of driftwood due to their dark coloring and frequent position on the sandy bottom of the water.
The banjo catfish is nocturnal, so it is not easy to catch, but it does have a few predators including other larger fish and birds. Banjo catfish are not popular for eating because they are so small and hard to catch, but they are popular to put in aquariums because they are easy to care for.
8. Argentine Driftwood Catfish
The Argentine driftwood catfish is one of 125 species of driftwood catfish found in South America. This species lives in Argentinean rivers. These fish are nocturnal, like many catfish species. They hide in logs and other crevices during the day and emerge at night to feed. They eat insects, shrimp, fruit, and algae.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Mirko_Rosenau
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- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_hake
- Fishbase, Available here: https://www.fishbase.se/summary/50136
- Wiley Online Library, Available here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1439-0426.2008.01081.x
- World Atlas, Available here: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/native-fish-of-argentina.html#:~:text=Some%20of%20the%20native%20fish,Aires%20Tetra%2C%20and%20Patagonian%20Toothfish.