Where in the world?
Slow-moving rivers of the Amazon River basin floodplain in Northern South America.
The arapaima is torpedo-shaped with large blackish-green scales and red markings. This is the largest fish found strictly in fresh water, normally reaching up to 7-8 feet long and 200 pounds – with the largest being recorded at 15 feet!
The Arapaima is very unique among fish – it can breathe air! They have a very primitive lung. They can take up oxygen through their gills also, but they typically live in oxygen- poor waterways and supplement with air breathing.
The diet of the arapaima consists of fish, crustaceans and small land animals that walk near the shore. These fish are fierce predators, sometimes leaping out of the water to grab birds, lizards and even small primates from low-hanging branches.
Did you know?
Arapaimas are listed as endangered fishes. They are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because of their size and because they must surface periodically to breathe.