Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Osteoglossidae (Bonytongues)

Genus/species: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum

 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The silvery body is covered with very big scales, and the dorsal and anal fins are almost fused with the caudal fin. They have a bony tongue with a huge oblique mouth and oral bones bearing teeth, including the jaw, palate, tongue and pharynx. Two barbels are found at the end of the lower jaw.

The Silver Arawana is a large fish with a length up to 1.2 m (4 ft) and weight up to 4.6 kg (10 lbs).

Silver ArawansIMG_1974

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: This fish is found in tropical freshwater, and is especially prevalent in flooded areas and swamps in the Amazon River system. It is capable of adapting to environments with low oxygen levels.

DIET IN THE WILD: O. bicirrhosum feed mainly on crustaceans, insects, smaller fishes, and other animals that float on the water; its upturned mouth is an adaptation for surface feeding. Sometimes called the “water monkey” for its jumping abilities, Silver Arawana have been known to leap some 2 m (6.5 ft) out of the water to pluck a surprised and often doomed insect or bird from overhanging branches. Bats and snakes have also been occasionally found as stomach contents.

REPRODUCTION: Interestingly, the Arawana male is a mouth brooder carrying eggs, larvae, and young juveniles in his mouth for about 2 months.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List; Not Evaluated
CITES: No special status

REMARKS: Arawana provide the largest source of protein in comparison to other Amazon fish. Also, because of its low-fat content, they are considered the most digestible and least likely to bring about sickness.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

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