Golden Dorado

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Golden dorado
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Characidae
Genus: Salminus
Species: S. brasiliensis
Binomial name
Salminus brasiliensis
(G. Cuvier, 1816)

Salminus cuvieri Valenciennes, 1850
Salminus maxillosus Valenciennes, 1850
Salminus orbignyanus Valenciennes, 1850

The golden dorado (Salminus brasiliensis) is a large river fish found in central and east-central South America. Despite having Salminus in its name, the dorado is not related to any species of salmon, nor to the saltwater fish also called dorado. It is very popular among recreational anglers and supports large commercial fisheries. "Dorado", both in the name of the fish and other uses such as the El Dorado legend, originates from the Latin word for gold, auratus (later modified into dauratus in Vulgar Latin, and subsequently oro in Spanish and ouro in Portuguese). This renders its common name a redundancy, as it translates to "Golden Golden".


The golden dorado has a large head, with powerful jaws filled with sharp teeth. It reaches maturity around 37 cm (15 in) long, and is golden colored. The average size of the golden dorado is about 3–10 kg (6.6–22.0 lb). The largest recorded size is 100 cm (39 in) length and 31.4 kg (69 lb).1

Distribution and habitat

The golden dorado lives in warm freshwater habitats in southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, and northern Argentina, in the river basins of the Paraguay, Uruguay, Chapare, and Mamoré Rivers, and the drainage of the Lagoa dos Patos.1 The dorado is considered an endangered species in Paraguay, so a five-year fishing ban was put into effect there.2 Other South American river basins hold relatives of this species: S. franciscanus in the São Francisco Basin, S. hilarii in the upper Paraná, Amazon and Orinoco basins, and S. affinis in the Santiago and Magdalena basins in Ecuador and Colombia.


Golden dorados are piscivores, eating a wide variety of prey fish. One of the dorado's favorite prey is the sabalo, a type of schooling fish typically 1–4 kg (2–9 lb) in weight. They also actively prey for several species of Astyanax, also known as lambari, within these especially A. altiparanae, A. bimaculatus, and A. fasciatus, as well as fishes from the Gymnotidae family, genus Gymnotus and known in Brazil as tuvira or sarapó. Its preference for the two mentioned groups dictate generally the shapes and colors of lures and flies made for dorado.


The golden dorado is highly sought-after by anglers, both for its delicious taste and fighting ability. The aggressive nature of the dorado, its high jumps, and great fighting strength and stamina have created a great competitive market among anglers from all corners of the world, traversing South American waters in hopes of hooking a dorado.

Dorado caught with fly tackle - São Paulo state, Brazil

Ultimately, the dorado has been more and more recognized as a fly-fishing targeted species. Its aggressive behavior, fast runs, impressive strength, and brave fighting - frequently going airborne in the attempt to loosen itself from the hook, make this species a must-fish for fly fishermen.


  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2011). "Salminus brasiliensis" in FishBase. October 2011 version.
  2. ^ Law Number 3191/07, Which prohibits the fishing, extraction, collecting and stocking for ulterior commercialization of the species Salminus maxillosus, of common name Dorado fish. (MS Word Document) (In Spanish). Retrieved on 20 November 2010.

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