Aquafacts / Amazon

The Amazon

We've compiled our most popular questions about the Amazon, answered by our biologists and other reputable sources.

Quick info

3,000

Fish species

50,000

Higher plant species

1/5 

Of the world's bird species

Up to 1,000 centimetres

Annual rainfall in the Amazon

1,100

Tributaries flow into the Amazon

Where do we get the animals that we display in the Graham Amazon Gallery?

The Aquarium buys captive-bred fishes from tropical fish dealers in Vancouver and wild-caught fishes from sustainable fisheries. Animals not available through the pet dealers or sustainable fisheries are traded between AZA accredited zoos and aquariums. Some animals are bred here at the Aquarium or at other aquariums and zoos.

What do we feed the piranhas?

The piranhas at the Aquarium are carnivores and eat fishes. Other piranhas eat the scales and fins of other fishes, and still others eat fruits and nuts. To discover the feeding strategy of a particular piranha species, look at the shape of its teeth. The shape of their teeth varies for tearing, grinding or crushing foods.

Besides piranhas, what other dangerous fishes inhabit the Amazon?

Freshwater stingrays are very dangerous. They do not attack people, but their venomous spines can cause injury to anyone who steps on them in the often opaque waters of the Amazon. Look for stingrays beside the piranha exhibit. The electric eel is another potentially dangerous fish. Long electric eels can kill by discharging between 400 and 600 volts of electricity. The longer they are, the more power they have.

What happens to the land once the forest is cleared?

To illustrate the effect this has on the ecosystem, a one hectare tract of rainforest may support 750 tree species, 125 mammal species, 400 bird species, 150 butterfly species and 100 reptile species. These animals are lost or must move when the forest is cleared.

How has the Aquarium increased realism in the Graham Amazon Gallery?

The temperature is maintained at 27°C during the day and 22°C at night. Spray misters keep the humidity near 75 percent. Lights in the habitat turn on and off gradually, simulating dawn and dusk in the Amazon.

How do we make sure the animals stay within the rainforest habitat?

The birds and sloths are much more comfortable in the forested areas away from visitors. In the evening the doors are closed at the entrance and exit of the rainforest habitat. This prevents the birds and other animals from wandering away from the gallery overnight.