What in the world is an arapaima?
A big fish story
The answer to this question may be found at the Amazonia Exhibit at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Arapaima are among the largest freshwater fish in the world and several may be seen in the 55,000 gallon aquarium in the Amazonia Exhibit.
Individual arapaima are typically six to seven feet long but can reach eight feet or more. The scales are large and the mouth is turned up because they feed at the surface of the water. These fish are found in the Amazon in South America. The arapaima is a predator and they eat chopped fish along with a prepared diet at the National Zoo.
Arapaima are very unfishlike in that they are air breathers that stay submerged for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. This tendency to stay at the surface makes them vulnerable to hunters with harpoons.
Arapaima, Amazonia, National Zoo IMG_9609
Canon PowerShot G11 Camera
Photograph by Roy Kelley
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs