Arapaima Fish Care “Arapaima Gigas”

arapaima fish

Last updated on September 4th, 2022 at 08:50 pm

The arapaima fish is a large, freshwater fish that lives in South America. It can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh more than 400 pounds! These predators are a key part of the food chain for many aquatic organisms. They have a few natural enemies, but they are not bothered by humans or other animals when they live in their natural habitat.

The arapaima is a fish that inhabits the Amazon River and its tributaries. It is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, reaching up to six feet in length and weighing up to 200 pounds. The arapaima is a predatory fish, feeding on other fish, amphibians, and small mammals.

It has a long, cylindrical body and is covered in scales that are olive-green or brown on the dorsal side and silver on the ventral side. The arapaima has two pairs of barbels near its mouth that it uses to sense prey underwater.

It is an important fish in South American culture. It is the subject of several legends and is considered a delicacy in Brazil.

Origin and description

arapaima fish

Arapaima fish are a native species to South America and a formidable predator in their natural habitat. They can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh as much as 440 pounds! Arapaima Fish have a very interesting life cycle, which is why they are such a popular topic of study among biologists.

The Arapaima Fish lives off the coast of South America where it is one of the most important predators. It can grow up to six feet long and weigh more than 400 pounds! These predators are a key part of the ecosystem, helping to keep other fish populations in check.

Arapaima Fish have a unique life cycle that begins with them living in small schools near the surface of the water. When they reach about two years old, they will move into deeper waters where they will live for the rest of their lives. They reproduce by laying several thousand eggs at a time.

The Arapaima Fish can grow up to ten feet long and weigh as much as 440 pounds! They are one of the most important predators in their natural environment, where they help control fish populations by eating them.

Species profile

arapaima fish

The arapaima fish (Arapaima gigas) is a large, predatory fish found in the Amazon River basin. It is the largest freshwater fish in the world and can reach up to six feet in length, and weigh more than 200 pounds. The arapaima has a long, slender body with olive green scales and large, red fins. The head is particularly large and features a pair of fleshy barbels on the underside near its mouth.

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It’s closely related to the Asian fish known as air-breathing catfish or walking fish (Clarias batrachus), which has more than 400 species in total. It can breathe air through a modified swim bladder that allows it to “walk” across the surface of the water and can survive for up to four days out of the water by breathing air.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the arapaima fish, Arapaima gigas, is derived from the indigenous Tupi language and means “big fish of the water.”

Color and appearance

According to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), it is one of the heaviest bony fish in the world. It has a bulbous forehead and large, crescent-shaped mouth containing rows of thick, conical teeth; these are used for catching prey such as other fish or birds that venture too close to its territory.

The arapaima’s body is a deep olive green dorsally and silvery-white ventrally. There are three dark, wide bands that run the length of its body; the first extends from the gills to the tail, while the second and third start just behind the dorsal and anal fins, respectively. Juveniles have less well-defined bands.

Range and habitat

The arapaima fish is found in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins of South America. It inhabits slow-moving, murky waters where it can conceal itself among submerged tree roots and vegetation.

Arapaima is a freshwater fish and has no tolerance for high salt concentrations. It can be found in parts of the Amazon River with soft, acidic water; it inhabits muddy shallows or deep pools where submerged tree roots form natural retreats.

They prefer slow-moving to almost stagnant waters such as swamps, backwaters, and oxbows. Arapaima fish are generally found in shallow waters with a depth from 0 to 20 m (0–66 ft), but may sometimes be found up to 40 m deep (130 feet).

Arapaima fish size

An arapaima weighing 200 kg (440 lb) is common, with the larger specimens reaching 300 to 400 kilograms or more.

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The adult fish can reach lengths of up to 15 feet and weigh over 440 pounds. A sexually mature female caught in 2011 near the mouth of the Xingu River weighed 86 kilograms (190 lbs). More commonly, specimens weighing 50 to 100 kilograms (110–220 lbs) are caught.

The arapaima is the largest living species of bony fish, reaching lengths up to 15 feet and weighing over 440 pounds. The IGFA has a world record for an arapaima at 298 pounds.

A mature female caught in 2011 near the mouth of the Xingu River weighed 86 kilograms (190 lbs). More commonly, specimens weighing 50 to 100 kilograms (110–220 lbs) are caught.

Tank size

An arapaima fish needs a large tank with plenty of swimming space. The minimum size for an aquarium is 400 gallons, but it’s recommended to have at least 1000 gallons to house an adult fish.

Life cycle

Arapaima fish are long-lived fish, with a lifespan of up to 20 years in the wild. They reach sexual maturity at around four or five years old. Spawning takes place from April to May, when males and females congregate in shallow water and release their eggs and sperm into the current. The eggs hatch within two days after fertilization, and the larvae drift with the current until they reach a suitable habitat.

The arapaima is an air-breathing fish and can stay submerged for up to five minutes at a time. It has a well-developed swim bladder, which it uses to control its buoyancy; in shallower water, the bladder is expanded to make it heavier. They can also use their swim bladder for sound production and makes grunting sounds when out of water.

This is believed to be part of the courtship process; in captivity, males will produce mating calls similar to those heard in the wild if they are introduced into an aquarium containing a female that has not yet been mated.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Arapaima fish are usually considered to be quite docile, but they can become aggressive if they feel threatened. They have been known to attack humans who get too close, and have even been known to break through aquarium glass.

Arapaima fish care

arapaima fish

Arapaima are easy to care for in captivity and can be kept in a large aquarium with other fish. They require a tank that is at least 120 gallons (454 liters) and should be provided with plenty of hiding places.

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They will eat most types of food but should have a diet that is high in protein.

What does arapaima eat?

Arapaima fish is carnivorous and will eat a variety of food. In the wild, they feed mostly on smaller fish by ambushing them from beneath, but in captivity, they can be fed anything suitable for large tropical fish.

They have been documented as being able to eat small mammals that enter their habitats, such as rodents or even chicks, and may eat smaller fish in the aquarium.

In a home aquarium, it is not advised to keep them with other large predators such as Oscars or cichlids, because they will probably end up eating each other if there isn’t enough room for both.

They can be fed live food when young, but should later receive high-protein food such as pellets, frozen food, or fish.

Tank mates

Arapaima fish are best kept alone in a large tank. They can be aggressive towards smaller fish and sometimes even predators such as cichlids, so they don’t make good tank mates for other species of large fish.

They will often eat any small animals that enter their habitat, which makes them unsuitable to be housed.

They can also be aggressive to other large predatory fish, and may even eat their tank mates if they are smaller than them or not fast enough to escape when threatened.

Water conditions for arapaima

Arapaimas can live in fresh, brackish water or saltwater conditions. They need large tanks and the temperature should be between 73-82°F (23-28°C). The pH balance of the water needs to be acidic rather than alkaline.

They prefer slow-moving waters with floating plants, and will not do well in tanks with strong currents.

Arapaimas can be difficult to find in the wild and they are considered an endangered species, so it is important to research how to care for them before purchasing one.


arapaima fish

Arapaima fish are bred in large, man-made ponds. They can be difficult to breed because the male and female fish must be in close proximity for spawning to occur. Once a pair of fish have spawned, the parents will often eat their offspring. As a result, many eggs and fry do not survive.

The eggs of an arapaima are large and buoyant. They are released into the water and will hatch in about 36 hours. The newly hatched fry are very small, and they must eat quickly to survive.

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Arapaima juveniles can be difficult to keep in captivity because they require a lot of food and space. Some aquarists have had success keeping young arapaima in home aquariums.


Arapaima fish can live for up to 20 years in the wild. In captivity, they have been known to live for more than 30 years.

The oldest arapaima ever recorded was 43 years old.

Parasites and diseases

Arapaima fish are susceptible to a variety of parasites and diseases. These include nematodes, tapeworms, flukes, bacteria, and fungi.

Many of these parasites and diseases can be deadly to the fish. As a result, it is important to maintain good water quality and to provide the fish with a healthy diet.


Arapaima are predators in their ecosystem. They eat other fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, and even small land mammals called capybara. The giant arapaima is the top predator of its habitat.

Do they make good pets?

Arapaima fish are not good pets for most people. They are large, solitary fish that require a lot of special care to survive in captivity.

They will eat almost any type of food you give them, but they may also eat other aquarium inhabitants if given the opportunity.

Arapaima teeth

Adult arapaima fish has sharp teeth that can be used to defend against predators. They also use their teeth during feeding and when tearing apart large prey items such as other fish, and capybara.

As young arapaima grows into adults, they lose the numerous tiny teeth found in juvenile fish.


Arapaima are giant fish that can grow to more than 12 feet long and weigh as much as 300 pounds.

They use their sharp teeth for hunting, feeding, and defense against predators. Adult arapaima can compete with other large animals such as crocodiles for food sources.