Arapaima gigas

Endangered giant in the Amazon

Due to the high fat content, there is a great demand for Arapaima meat that is sold on the market salted and dried. The excessive exploitation has already led to local extinction in many areas, particularly in the main river of the Amazon. But even the extensive destruction of the tropical rain forest and the consequent presence of pesticides and pollutants such as mercury or oil, which are flushed into the waters, threaten the habitat of the giant fish.


  • Origin

    Northern South America, in the Amazon and its lower reaches among other places

  • Habitat

    In flat areas, in waters that are densely overgrown with aquatic and waterside plants and periodically flooded areas.

  • Diet

    Fish, frogs, birds, small mammals

  • Status

    least concern

  • Size

    above 2 m

  • Weight

    above 100 kg

  • Breeding period

    Several months of brooding care. Parents guide juveniles up to a size of 25 cm.

  • Achievable age

    up to 20 years

Threat Categories of IUCN

What you should know about Arapaimas

Arapaimas live in the waters of Brazil, Guyana and Peru that are densely overgrown with aquatic and waterside plants, this predominantly concerns the Amazon and Orinoco rivers and their tributaries. They do, however, avoid the strongly acidic, so-called black waters that are low in fish and fast-flowing waters.

Practical scale armour

The Arapaima has a strong scaly body, which provides it with protection against, for example, piranha bites. The secret of the Arapaima armour: it's hard enough to prevent penetration by teeth and flexible enough to withstand the pressure of a bite without it breaking or tearing.

Is it true, that ...?

... an arapaima can also breathe 'normal' air? Yes, the arapaimas are able to gasp for air as a particular adaptation characteristic to the extreme habitats in South America. If, for example, the oxygen content decreases in the water, then the arapaimas rise to the surface and breathe using their lung-like air sacs – but this does not make them lungfish!

Adopt an animal

Lend your support to the Aquarium’s modern, high-quality animal keeping and care by becoming an animal sponsor.


Opening hours

Today, 15. June
9:00 - 18:00
Last admission: 17:00
All opening hours

Feedings & Trainings

  • Our animals are full up. No more feeding sessions today.
All feedings


Zoo map