Arapaima

Arapaima gigas

About This Animal

SIZE: Up to 15 feet in the wild

RANGE: Northern South America: Amazon and Essequibo river systems

HABITAT: Freshwater; demersal

DIET: These fish are fierce predators, sometimes leaping out of the water to grab birds, lizards and even small primates from low-hang

ON EXHIBIT: River Giants exhibit in River Journey

This is the largest fish found strictly in fresh water. The arapaima is very unique among fish— it can breathe air! They have a very primitive lung. They can take up oxygen through their gills also but they typically live in oxygen-poor waterways and supplement with air breathing. 

Arapaima are listed as endangered fishes according to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES.  This means that their trade is strictly regulated.  All arapaima on display at the Tennessee Aquarium have been acquired through confiscations by US Fish and Wildlife Service.