The Arapaima, which belongs to a very old family of fish phylogenetically, is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, reaching a size of over two meters. The giant fish is one of audience's favourite at the Aquarium Berlin.
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.
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.
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!
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