colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Arapaima
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colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Scientific classification
colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Binomial name
Arapaima gigas
(Cuvier, 1829)
File:Arapaima Gigante.jpg

Arapaima showing its full length.

File:Arapaima shedd.jpg

Arapaima at the Shedd Aquarium.

The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche (Arapaima gigas) is a South American tropical freshwater fish. It is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. It can reach lengths of more than 2 m (6.6 ft), in some exceptional cases even more than 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and over 100 kg (220 lbs). The often cited maximum length of 4.5 m (14.8 ft) comes from a single second-hand-report from the first half of the ninteenth century, and is not an actual fact. The maximum-cited weight for the species is 200 kg (440 lbs). The Arapaima the largest freshwater fish in South America. As one of the most sought after food fish species in South America, it is often captured primarily by handheld nets for export, by spearfishing for local consumption, and, consequently, large arapaima of more than 2 m are seldom found in the wild today. In the Camden aquarium in Camden, New Jersey, arapaimas are on exhibit along with the Arowanas and other species.

The diet of the arapaima consists of fish and other small animals, including birds. The fish is an air-breather, using its swim bladder, which is rich in blood vessels and opens into the fish's mouth[1], an advantage in oxygen-deprived water that is often found in the Amazon River. This fish is therefore able to survive extensive drought periods by gulping air and burrowing in the mud or sand of the swamps.

The arapaima has also been introduced for fishing in Thailand and Malaysia. It is also considered an aquarium fish, although it obviously requires a large tank and ample resources.

Fossils of arapaima or a very similar species have been found in the Miocene Villavieja Formation of Colombia.[2]

The tongue of this fish is thought to have medicinal qualities in South America. It is dried and combined with guarana bark, which is grated and mixed into water. Doses of this are given to kill intestinal worms.

Reproduction[edit | edit source]

Due to the geographic range that arapaima inhabit, the animal's life cycle is greatly affected by the seasonal flooding that occurs. The arapaima lays its eggs during the months of February, March, and April when the water levels are low. They build a nest approximately 50 cm wide and 15 cm deep, usually in sandy bottomed areas. As the water rises the eggs hatch and the offspring have the flood season to prosper, during the months of May to August. Therefore, the yearly spawning is regulated seasonally. The arapaima is a mouthbrooder, meaning it keeps its young in its mouth until they are older.

Economic Importance for Humans[edit | edit source]

File:Stamp British Guiana 1954 72c.jpg

Arapaima depicted on a 1954 postage stamp of British Guiana.

The arapaima is hunted and utilized in many ways by local human populations. Arapaima are harpooned or caught in large nets and the meat is said to be delicious. Since the arapaima needs to swim up to breathe air, traditional arapaima fishers often catch them by first clubbing them and then harpooning them dead. One individual can yield as much as 70 kg of meat. In addition, the arapaima's bony tongue is often used to scrape cylinders of dried guarana, an ingredient in some beverages, and the bony scales are used as nail files. This animal also appears in the pet trade, although to keep an arapaima correctly requires a large tank and can prove quite difficult.

See also[edit | edit source]

Appearances in popular culture[edit | edit source]

  • In the PC game The Amazon Trail II the Arapaima (called Pirarucu in the game)sometimes appears while spearfishing it is one of the largest fish in the game, and only appears once in any one fishing session.
  • The Arapaima can also be found in the Nokia NGage title Hooked On: Creatures of the Deep at the games Thailand resort Top Cats
  • In the Street Fighter II games, a large Arapaima is seen hanging in the background of Blanka's stage in Brazil, along with an anaconda and the Amazon River.
  • In the Petz games on Wii & PS2 Catz & Dogz 2, the Arapaima is found in Gongoro Peak.There is also a Golden Arapaima, which is one of the rarest catches.

References[edit | edit source]

(Lowe-McConnell 1987; Smith 1981, Luna and Froese, 2002)

gn:Piraruku bg:Пираруко cs:Arapaima velká de:Arapaima el:Αραπαΐμα es:Arapaima gigas fr:Arapaima gigas id:Arapaima it:Arapaima gigas he:פיררוקו ka:არაპაიმა la:Arapaima lt:Arapaima nl:Arapaima ja:ピラルクー no:Arapaima gigas pl:Arapaima pt:Pirarucu qu:Paychi ru:Арапайма fi:Arapaima sv:Arapaima th:ปลาอะราไพม่า tr:Arapaima gigas zh:巨骨舌鱼

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