Pirarucu (Arapaima)

The Pirarucu or Arapaima (Arapaima gigas) is a South American tropical freshwater fish. It is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world. The Pirarucu can reach lengths of more than 2 m, and over 100 kg .  As one of the most sought after food fish species in South America, it is often captured primarily by handheld nets for export, by spearfishing for local consumption, and, consequently, large Arapaima of more than 2 m are seldom found in the wild today. The diet of the Pirarucu consists of fish, crustaceans, and other small animals. The fish is an air-breather, using its swim bladder, which is rich in blood vessels and opens into the fish’s mouth, an advantage in oxygen-deprived water that is often found in the Amazon River. Due to the geographic range that Pirarucu inhabit, the animal’s life cycle is greatly affected by the seasonal flooding that occurs. The Pirarucu lays its eggs during the months of February, March, and April when the water levels are low or beginning to rise. The Pirarucu is hunted and utilized in many ways by local human populations. Pirarucu are harpooned or caught in large nets and the meat is said to be delicious. Since the Pirarucu needs to swim up to breathe air, traditional Pirarucu fishers often catch them by first harpooning them and then clubbing them dead.