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Arapiama: The Largest Freshwater Fish printer.gif

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The Arapaima fish, also know as paiche, is thought to be the largest freshwater fish on earth. It is an ancient monster! They can grow to be well over 10 feet long and weigh 450 lbs. Fossil records show that the arapaima fish is related to some of the oldest fish species on earth.

The Arapaima is grey and has a reddish orange color along its belly and underside. They mostly eat other fish, but arapaima will also eat birds and any other animal that it can catch. Part of what makes an arapaima so unusual, besides its size, is that it needs oxygen from the air to survive.

Arapaima fish have built in sacks, or air bladders, that can fill with air as the fish takes a gulp of air from the water's surface. The sacks help the arapaima float well, or create buoyancy. The lung-like bladders are an advantage in the Amazon River because the river's water does not have much oxygen. This fish is able to survive extensive drought periods by gulping air and burrowing into the mud or sand of the swamps.

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Arapaima scales are used as tools in the rainforest.

Giant arapaima fish are pretty rare these days. Most of the fish caught today are between 7 and 8 feet long with a weight of 200 pounds, but even this is a colossal size for a freshwater fish.

Arapaima are smaller today than they were in the past is because of over-fishing. Over half of the giant fish is made up of meat, which makes it a very popular fish for people to eat.

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Scales can be used as nail files.

More than 50 percent of the total body weight of this fish is made up by meat, and the meat is boneless, a fact which makes it even more popular as food. Arapiama fish scales are also useful tools in the rainforest. People use the hard scales like sandpaper for scraping, smoothing, and even filing their nails.

For further exploration, check out the following web site.

The Aquatic Community's Arapiama Page

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