Arapaima gigas

Identity card

Arapaima gigas

Scientific name:
Arapaima gigas
Osteoglossidae /Arapaimidae
Year of description:
Schinz, 1822
IUCN Status:
Data Deficient

The arapaima gigas lives in the Amazon River basin in South America.


The arapaima gigas lives in fresh water, in the Amazon River and its large tributaries.


The arapaima gigas measures 2.5 metres in length on average and weighs 200 kg.


It feeds on fish, but sometimes varies its menu by catching birds. It grabs them as it leaps out of the water.

Conservation program:

It has protection and control measures in place for its trade.

Arapaima gigas

The arapaima gigas at NAUSICAA come from an aquaculture farm in Peru

And they relish spraying water at the carers as they pass within their range.

did you know?

Arapaima gigas reproduce during periods of high water but it is when the water recedes that they dig their nests on a sandy bed. A female lays an average of 47,000 eggs. After hatching, the tiny fish, attracted by a pheromone, remain around the heads of the parents.

Where is the animal to be found?

The arapaima gigas lives in fresh water, in the Amazon River and its large tributaries.

How can it be recognised?

It is often quoted as the largest freshwater fish. It can grow to a maximum size of 5m.

What is distinctive about it?

This fish is also known for its many primitive features such as its bony scales that protect it from being attacked by piranhas. Even though it has gills, the arapaima gigas can breathe air at the surface. This allows it to survive in oxygen-starved, dead water.

Threat and protective measure

The flesh of the arapaima gigas is a source of food and is highly prized by the local population. Its teeth are also used to make jewellery and tools.

Where can I find it at Nausicaá?

mankind and shores

Arapaima gigas

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