(Arapaima gigas)




Facts about this animal

The Arapaima can grow up to a length of about 2 m or even more, with a weight of 90-200 kg. It has an elongated body, a depressed head and a wide mouth. The lower jaw is prominent and it has no barbels. There are more than 50 scales in the lateral line. The scales in the posterior half of the body to the caudal fin are more and more edged in red. The paired fins are rounded and without elongated rays.

The Arapaima is an air breather, coming regularly to the water surface for respiration (approx. every 10 minutes). In adults the back is black to steel-blue, the sides are silvery grey and the lower surface is greyish to yellowish.

Spawning occurs in shallow lakes, chiefly during the months of October and November. "Mouth incubation" is thought to take place. The father guarding the eggs is known to take them in his mouth and move them to another location. The young are led by the male in a group once they are able to swim.

Did you know?
that the arapaima is the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world? Arapaimas may reach lengths of up to 3 metres and a body-weight of up to 200 kg.


Name (Scientific) Arapaima gigas
Name (English) Arapaima
Name (French) Arapaïma
Name (German) Arapaima
Name (Spanish) Arapaima
Local names Perú: Paiche
Brasil: Bodeco, Pirarucu
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka



Range Brazil, Guyana, Peru
Habitat In ponds, lakes, rivers, flooded forests and swamps
Wild population Unknown, but declining due to overfishing
Zoo population 54 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Juvenile arapaimas may be transported in strong polyethylene bags like ornamental fish. For adults stable waterproof containers are required.

For air transport, Container Note 51 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.

Arapaimas must be unpacked carefully and under low illumination.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka

Why do zoos keep this animal

The arapaima is a large attractive fish with an interesting habits and therefore of educational value and a good ambassador species for the conservation of freshwater habitats and neotropical forests.