The Piracucu: A Large Freshwater Fish
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The Piracucu: A Large Freshwater Fish

The Piracucu: A Large Freshwater Fish, The Arapaima Gigas: A Large Freshwater Fish

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Also called arapaima or paiche, the piracucu (Arapaima gigas) is a freshwater fish dominant in South America particularly in the Amazon River basin. Considered one of the largest extant freshwater fish in the world, the piracucu had been known to reach a maximum length of 3 meters (10 feet) and weights averaging 220 kg (485 lbs).

Belonging to the Osteoglossidae family of fishes, piracucus are often referred as living fossils with the similarity of its bone structures to fossils unearthed believed to belong to similar fish species living during the Miocene period (some 5.3 million years ago). Its population has radically decreased for decades owing to its boneless flesh which makes for excellent boneless fish steaks making it one of the most sought after delicacy in South American countries near the Amazon River like Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil.

A carnivorous fish characterized by a bony tongue typical of fish species in the Osteoglossidae family, a piracucu feeds on smaller fishes which it crushes through its tongue studded with teeth. The tongue had been such a strong structure in this creature that natives of the Amazon utilize it to be dried and used as seed-graters afterwards. A long, narrow body with bony scales, pectoral and anal fins situated far aft near the tail fin enables the creature to swim with snake-like grace.

Piracucu is considered one of seven freshwater fish species under the Osteoglossidae family believed related to each other and once living on Gondwana supercontinent before it broke up in the early Jurassic period. This accounts for the similarity of the present species as we separately knew them, the piracucu (South America), Silver arowana (South America), Black arowana (South America), Asian arowana (Asian countries), Northern barramundi (Australia), Spotted barramundi (Australia) and the African arowana (Senegal, Nigeria, Nile Rivers, Congo).

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At present piracucu fishing is banned by the Brazilian government owing to its decreasing population except on certain areas of the Amazon River basin. Thriving tourism like the Amazon River budget tours allow rare experience of fishing exotic Amazon freshwater fishes including the piracucu in a catch-and-release scheme for picture taking and video footage purposes. Some numbers have found their way in the pet trade and could be bought at a price but require larger tanks and careful feeding in order to be successfully bred as an aquarium fish.


piracucu(Arapaima gigas). (2011) Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite

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Comments (14)

Interesting article about this threatened breed of fish.

WOW! Awesome article on the piracucu.

what an interesting fish

Oh my word, it's huge! Good to read that it is protected by the government if numbers are declining. Very interesting post,

Now that is one big fish. I have spent some time on the Amazon but I never laid eyes on one of these beauties. As always, Deep Blue, your article has left me inspired to research the subject further.

Very informative and interesting article my friend. As always Will, excellent work!

You have given lots of information for a truly educational piece. I am out of votes so will award you tweet and buzz along with thank you.

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Nice work again on wildlife Will.

Wow, really big. Interesting facts here, FB liked :)

Wow very interesting and informative article......thanks deep for sharing...voted up

Great to have this fish in my aquarium. :-)

Nicely done! Fun facts! Some really awesome pictures. Thanks for the share. Voted up!

3M? Wow that's some fish... I hope I don't come across him.