The Arapaima Gigas is a true terror, capable of delivering a death blow without even using teeth. They can leap from the water and smash into you when threatened. Jeremy Wade was injured by one when working with a group of breeding Arapaima in South America. It jumped over the net and crashed into his chest with hundreds of pound of force. They can reach some truly incredible sizes as well, some claim they can reach up to 15′ long. I don’t doubt that is possible but I have never seen definitive proof. There are also another subspecies or two of Arapaima that science is still figuring out, although they are all pretty similar from what I have seen.
They gulp air from the surface, which gives them the ability to thrive even in drought conditions when small pools are lacking oxygen. Some claim the Arapaima to be the largest freshwater fish in the world. I am not sure what form of measurement they use, a scale or a tape measure. It could certainly be the longest if a 15′ specimen was found but there have been some 500-600lb Catfish & Stingrays caught. So I don’t think it could be heaviest but you never know, the largest Arapaima I’ve read about is a bit over 400lbs.
Jeremy Wade has a test done on an Arapaima scale he caught in Guyana and it different than the Arapaima Gigas. You can read a quote from our episode recap below.
He finally lands his monster, and as I suspected it’s an Arapaima Gigas. He takes a scale from the fish to test against the DNA of the Arapaima caught in the Amazon, to see if they are the same species or just cousins. Some say there are a few species of Arapaima as opposed to the single species designation of Arapaima Gigas, other names exist such as Arapaima Arapaima. (Preliminary tests show the Arapaima he caught could be a new species to Science) The season ends with Jeremy standing at the top of an amazing waterfall, one 5 times higher than Niagara Falls.
Jeremy Wade with the different species of Arapaima from Guyana. It is not the same as the Amazonian Arapaima Gigas, it could possibly be called Arapaima Arapaima.
—– Arapaima Profile / Care Sheet ——
Scientific Name – Arapaima Gigas, Arapaima Arapaima, Arapaima Sp.
Common Name – Pirarucu, Paiche, Arapaima, A. Gigas, Arapaima Gigas, Arapaima Arapaima
Regions of Origin – South America – Amazon River Basins, Guyana
Temperament – These guys are 100% predators but peaceful most of the time. They do reach MASSIVE sizes, you need a pond to keep them or a custom tank with 5 digits or more capacity. Meaning 10,000 gallons minimum and that could eventually seem tiny to a 10′ fish.
Maximum Size – Up to 12′+ in the wild, although rarely seen. Most specimens in captivity are smaller, rarely making it over the 8-10′ mark. They can reach over 300lbs as well. Truly a TankTerror, really meant for ponds only.
Diet – Smaller Fish, Anything a predator with a huge mouth can eat really. They will take almost anything, including small mammals that may fall into the water.
Water – 78-84 degrees
Arapaima in an aquarium.
Arapaima about to take a gulp of air in the wild.
Arapaima Gigas freaking out some much smaller Oscars. It could easily eat them.