Arapaima ( Sudis gigas )

Arapaima ( Sudis gigas )

Type species
Sudis gigas

The arapaimapirarucu, or paiche are any large species of bonytongue in the genus Arapaima native to the Amazon and Essequibobasins of South America. Genus Arapaima is the type genus of the family Arapaimidae. They are among the world's largest freshwater fish, reaching as much as 3 m (9.8 ft). They are an important food fish. They have declined in the native range due to overfishing and habitat loss. In contrast, arapaima have been introduced to several tropical regions outside the native range (within South America and elsewhere) where they are sometimes considered invasive species. Its local name, pirarucu, derives from the indigenous words for "pira" meaning "fish" and "urucum" meaning "red".

Life history/behavior


Due to its geographic ranges, arapaima's life cycle is greatly affected by seasonal flooding. Various pictures show slightly different coloring owing to colour changes when they reproduce. The arapaima lays its eggs during the months when water levels are low or beginning to rise. They build a nest about 50 centimetres (20 in) wide and 15 centimetres (5.9 in) deep, usually in muddy-bottomed areas. As the water rises, the eggs hatch and the offspring have the flood season during May to August to prosper such that yearly spawning is regulated seasonally.


The arapaima male is a mouthbrooder, like his relative, the Osteoglossum, meaning the young are protected in his mouth until they are older. The female arapaima helps to protect the male and the young by circling them and fending off potential predators.
In his book Three Singles to Adventure, naturalist Gerald Durrell reported that in British Guiana, female arapaima had been seen secreting a white substance from a gland in the head and that their young were seemingly feeding on the substance.

Skull from side and above
Scales closeup


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