The Arapaima (Arapaima gigas) is a large freshwater fish in the Arapaimidae family of bonytongue fish. It is also known as Pirarcu.
The Arapaima has mainly grey to grey-green scales, with red flecks near its tail. It has an elongated body. It is an air-breather, so it has lungs, but it also has gills to breathe underwater. It surfaces for air about every 5-15 minutes.
It can grow to 200 centimetres (79 inches) in length. It is one of the world’s largest freshwater fish.
It is native to the basin of the Amazon River in South America, in countries such as Brazil, Guyana, and Peru. It does not migrate – it is residential.
The Arapaima feeds on fish, and sometimes crabs and insects.
The female Arapaima lays eggs in a nest in the muddy bottom of shallow rivers and lakes. Both the male and the female make the nest. The male looks after the eggs for about three months. The eggs hatch after about 90 days into young fish.
It is a mouthbreeder, and the father looks after its young, called fry, by putting them in his mouth. The mother keeps guard.
It lives, on average, for 15-20 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
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