TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Osteoglossiformes (Bony tongues)
Family: Arapaimidae (Bonytongues)

Genus/species: Arapaima gigas

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Usually grey in color with an orange speckling near its posterior end. There are also two symmetrical fins on either side of the body at the posterior end. Length to 450cm  (14 feet in the 1800’s) Common length. 200 cm (6.75 feet(. Weight to 133 kg. (292 lbs)  In the 1800s specimens to 200 kg (440 lbs) were reported. Heavy, elongate body has very large scales.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical. Amazon River and its tributaries in freshwater flooded areas dense with aquatic vegetation and shore plants. Much of the water that comprises the pirarucu’s habitat is also oxygen deficient, as it is located in swampy areas of the rainforest.

DIET IN THE WILD: Specialized for surface feeding with their up turned mouths. Adults prey on fish at the surface; suck smaller fish into the mouth, then crush pre against the roof of its mouth using its tooth-covered bony tongue. Like its close relative the arawana, it can leap from the water to snatch a bird or even a monkey from an overhanging branch.

ArapaimaGigasIMG_2727

REPRODUCTION: Sexually mature at the age of five years old. Builds a nest of about 15 cm (6 inches) depth and 50 cm (20 inches) width in sandy bottoms. Guards the eggs and the young. Adults have the ability to exude a pheromone from their head to attract offspring and keep them in close proximity.

 

MORTALITY and LONGEVITY: Preyed upon by humans. Life spans of 15 to 20 years in captivity .

CONSERVATION: IUCV Red List Data deficient. CITES Appendix II. Heavily exploited as a commercial fish throughout the Amazon. Populations have been greatly reduced during the past 200 years.

REMARKS: Indigenous people utilize the scales and bones. The bony or toothed tongue was once used as a seed grater to make drink powders. Scales were used as scrappers.

In addition to gills, it has a modified and enlarged swim bladder, composed of lung-like tissue, which enables it to extract oxygen from the air. It is an obligate air breather, well adapted to oxygen-deficient waters gulping air every 10–15 minutes when oxygen levels are low.

Often referred to as the largest freshwater fish; some freshwater catfishes and sturgeon may challenge this “record.”

One of the arapaimas is the largest fish in the Steinhart by length.

LOCATION AM11

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  wp.me/p1DZ4b-a7

Ron’s flickr  www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3258200203/in/set-72157…

 fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/Arapaima-gigas.html

 U. of Michigan Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Arapaima_gigas/

 Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/204868/details