Arapaima (Arapaima gigas)

It is the largest of the Gar family and is native to North America where it can grow to over 100kg.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Osteoglossiformes
  • Family: Osteoglossidae
  • Sub Family: Heterotidinae
  • Genus: Arapaima
  • Species: Arapaima gigas
Common names: Arapaima, Pirarucu, Wararapaima, Giant bony tounge Latin name: Arapaima gigas Thai name: Plah Chon Amizon (ปลาช่อนอะเมซอน) Thailand status: Introduced Max size: 200kg (440lb) Diet: carnivorous - Fish, Frogs, Small water mammals and Birds Habitat: Freshwater.

The Arapaima can be found cruising around the upper levels of its territory hunting for food as well as lurking deep down around weed beds and snags where it will ambush prey fish.

Although big and strong looking the Arapaima are actually very delicate and can easily die if not properly landed in good time. They need to be given time to recover before a quick photo and being released.

The Arapaima is a tropical fish of the Amazon basin. It is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Arapaima reach sizes of up to 4.5m (15ft) in length and are one of the rarest large freshwater predatory fish left on this planet, these fish can be fussy feeders but for an exciting fishing experience are well worth the effort for any angler who wants to catch a large specimen of the world's ultimate freshwater predator.

The Arapaima is a bony tongue fish and has large sales which range from Olive green to Silver Grey and slowly turn blood red/pink with bright red edges towards it posterior and tail. The scales on a large Arapaima can reach 6cm (2 1/2") in length. Its long body is broad and creates amazing speed and power which it uses when catching prey. It has a long sloping forehead and its  lower jaw is slightly overshot. The current (at time of writing page) IGFA world  record catch for this hard and dirty fighting fish is 130kg (286lb) and was caught by Jakub Vagner in Amazonia Brazil on August 17th 2008.

The Arapaima has been successfully introduced into a few countries outside of its native South America. Its a true Predator of gigantic proportions. A beautifull fish that is very strong and athletic, it eats fish aswell as leaping out of the water to grab birds from hanging tree branches.

The Pirarucu as the Arapaima is also known reaches gigantic proportions in its native South America (Arapaima's have been recorded at 200kg (450lbs). They have been successfully introduced in Thailand to an increasing number of fishing lakes and fishing parks.  There are specimens of Arapaima that are known to be well over the world record weight for this fish. Fishing in Thailand for Arapaima is by no means easy, they can be fussy eaters and can be seen at many fishing lakes surfacing (Arapaima have to surface occasionally for oxygen and make a loud gulping noise when they do ) and rolling their massive and beautiful blood red tails as if to taunt you.

Although the Arapaima gigas is not the hardest fighting and mostly built for ambush attack they are very mobile for their size and will head for any snag which is near to them. Older fishing venues in Thailand that stock the Arapaiama such as Bungsamran lake in Bangkok have many posts and underwater construction of fishing pontoons and lakeside bungalows. The Arapaima (especially the biggest ones) will head straight for these sorts of places as soon as it gets the chance to try and get unhooked.

In the wild at one time, there were many Arapaima specimens over 3m (9.8ft) in length that weighed more than 150kg (330lb). Sadly now they are pretty much all gone. This is due to over fishing, water pollution and loss of its habitat.