Arapayma - A real giant of the underwater kingdom, which has survived to our days since ancient times. It is hard to imagine a fish that weighs as much as two centners. Let us try to understand what kind of life this unusual creature leads in the freshwater depths, to characterize the main external features, to find out everything about habits and disposition, to describe places of permanent residence. The question involuntarily arises in my head: "Can Arapaim be called a peer of dinosaurs and a real living fossil?"
Origin of view and description
Arapaima is a fish living in fresh tropical waters, which belongs to the Aravan family and the Araranoid order. This squad of radiant freshwater fish can be called primitive. Aravanoid fish are distinguished by bone outgrowths similar to teeth located on the tongue. Regarding the stomach and pharynx, the intestines of these fish are on the left side, although in the rest of the fish it passes on the right side.
The most ancient remains of the Aracoids were found in sediments of the Jurassic or Early Cretaceous periods, the age of these fossils is from 145 to 140 million years. They were found in the northwest of the African continent, in the territory of Morocco. In general, scientists believe that arapaima lived in those days when dinosaurs inhabited our planet. There is an opinion that for 135 million years, outwardly, it has remained unchanged, which is simply surprising. Arapaim can rightly be called not only a living fossil, but also a real huge monster of freshwater depths.
Interesting fact: Arapaima is one of the largest fish on the whole Earth, which lives in fresh waters, in its dimensions it is slightly inferior to individual varieties of belugas.
This amazing huge fish has many more names, arapaim is called:
- giant arapayma;
- Brazilian arapayma;
The Brazilian Indians nicknamed the fish "pyrarucu", which means "red fish", this name is fixed to it thanks to the red-orange color scheme of fish meat and saturated red spots on the scales, which are located in the tail. The Indians from Guiana call this fish arapaima, and its scientific name "Arapaima gigas" just comes from the Guiana name with the addition of the adjective "giant".
The dimensions of the arapaimes are truly amazing. The length of her powerful body reaches two meters in length, and rarely, but there were specimens that grew up to three meters. There are eyewitnesses claiming that they came across arapaimes with a length of 4.6 meters, but this data is not supported by anything.
Interesting fact: The mass of the largest arapaima caught was two centners, this information is officially registered.
Appearance and features
Photo: What arapime looks like
The body of the arapaim is elongated, the whole figure is elongated and slightly flattened on the sides. A noticeable narrowing is closer to the area of the head, which is also elongated. The arapaim skull in the upper part is slightly flattened, and the eyes are closer to the lower part of the head. The mouth of the fish, compared with its size, is small and is located quite high.
The tail section of the arapaim has incredible strength and power, with its help the ancient fish carries out lightning attacks and throws, jumps out of the water column when it pursues the victim. On the head of the fish, like a knight's helmet, are bone plates. Arapaimea scales are strong, like a bulletproof vest, it is multi-layered, has relief and large dimensions.
An interesting fact: Arapaima has strong scales, which are 10 times stronger than bone, so the gluttonous and bloodthirsty piranhas of giant fish are not scary, they themselves have long understood that this giantess is too tough for them, so they stay away from her.
Almost near the belly of the arapaima there are pectoral fins. Anal and dorsal fins are very long and shifted closer to the tail. Because of this structure, the back part of the fish resembles an oar; it helps the arapaime to accelerate at the right moment and quickly attack its victim.
Ahead, the fish has an olive-brownish color scheme, on which a certain bluish tint is noticeable. Where unpaired fins are located, the olive tone is replaced by a reddish one, and when moving closer to the tail, it turns red more and more saturated, becoming more saturated. Red blotches may also be observed on the gill covers. The tail is framed by a wide border of dark color. The differences between the sexes in Arapaima are very noticeable: males are more slender and miniature, their color is much juicier and brighter. And young fish has a faded color, which is the same for both female and male young individuals.
Now you know what arapime looks like. Let’s see where the giant fish is found.
Where does arapaime live?
Photo: Arapaim Fish
Arapaima is a thermophilic, gigantic, exotic person.
She fell in love with Amazonia, living in the vast expanses of water:
- French Guiana;
Also, this huge fish was artificially brought into the waters of Malaysia and Thailand, where it successfully took root. In the natural environment, fish prefers river plants and lakes, where aquatic vegetation abounds, but it can also be found in other floodplain water bodies. One of the main factors of its successful life activity is the optimal temperature regime of water, which should vary from 25 to 29 degrees, of course, with a plus sign.
Interesting fact: When the rainy season comes, arapaima often migrates to floodplain forests, which are flooded with water. When the drought returns, the fish swims back to the lakes and rivers.
It also happens that a fish cannot return to its lake or river, then it has to wait time in the small lakes that remain after the waste water. In a strong arid period, arapime can bury itself in silt or cool sandy soil, it is also able to live in marshy lands. If luck will be on the side of the pyraruka and it will withstand the period of drought, the fish will return to its habitable pond during the next rainy season.
It is worth noting that arapaim is bred in artificial conditions, but this activity is very troublesome. It is practiced in Europe, Asia and in Latin America. Of course, in captivity arapaimes do not have such huge dimensions, not exceeding a meter long. Such fish are inhabited by oceanariums, zoos, and artificial reservoirs specializing in fish farming.
What does arapaime eat?
Photo: Arapaima, she is a pyraruku
It is not surprising that with such a huge size, arapaima is a very strong, dangerous and rapid predator. Basically, the arapaims menu is fish, consisting of both small fish and more weighty fish specimens. If any small mammals and birds are in the reach zone of the predator, then the fish will certainly take the chance to catch such an infrequent snack. Therefore, animals that came to drink water, and birds sitting on branches inclined to water, may well become a meal of giant fish.
If mature arapaemes are more selective in food, then the young growth of these fish has simply an irrepressible appetite and grabs everything that moves nearby, snacking:
- small fish;
- all kinds of insects and their larvae;
- small snakes;
- medium-sized birds and mammals;
An interesting fact: One of the most beloved arapaima dishes is its relative, aravan fish, which belongs to the same aravaniformes.
Arapaim, living in artificial conditions, is fed with protein-rich foods: a variety of fish, poultry, beef offal, shellfish and amphibians. Since in the wild arapaima pursues its prey for a long time, they often let live small fish into its aquarium. Mature fish need only one feeding per day, and young animals need three meals a day, otherwise they can start hunting for neighbors living in their own aquarium.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Giant Arapaima
Despite the fact that arapaimea is very bulky, it is a very active fish, constantly in motion. She constantly seeks food for herself, so she can freeze for some time so as not to frighten off the discovered prey or stop for a short rest. The fish tries to stay closer to the bottom, but during the hunt constantly rises to the surface.
With the help of its powerful tail, the arapime can jump out of the water column to its entire impressive length. Apparently, this spectacle is simply shocking and discouraging, because this ancient creature reaches three meters in length. Arapaima does this all the time when he chases after prey, trying to sneak along the tree branches hanging over the water.
An interesting fact: on the surface of the swim bladder and pharynx, the arapaim has a dense network of blood vessels, which are similar in structure to the lung tissue, therefore these organs are used by fish as an additional breathing apparatus, with the help of which it breathes in atmospheric air in order to survive in the dry season.
When the water bodies become completely shallow, the pyraruku is immersed in moist mud or sandy soil, but every 10 to 15 minutes it is selected to the surface to take a breath. Thus, the arapime is breathing very loudly, so her sighs and breaths are heard throughout the district. In general, this whopper can be called with confidence not only a dexterous and agile hunter, but also a very hardy special one.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Arapaim in the Amazon
Female arapaims become sexually mature closer to the age of five, when they grow up to a meter and a half. Fish spawn in late February or early spring. The female begins to prepare her nesting in advance. She equips it in a warm sluggish pond or where the water is completely still, the main thing is that the bottom is sandy. The fish digs a hole, the width of which ranges from half a meter to 80 cm, and the depth - from 15 to 20 cm. Later, the female returns to this place already with her partner and starts throwing eggs, which are large in size.
After a couple of days, the eggs begin to burst, and fry appear from them. Throughout the whole time (from the beginning of spawning and until the fry become independent), a caring father is nearby, protecting, patronizing and feeding her offspring, the mother also does not swim away from the nest further than 15 meters.
Interesting fact: The first days of the life of the little Arapaims arrive next to their father, he feeds them with a special white secret, secreted by the glands located near the fish eyes. This substance has a certain aroma, which helps fry to keep up with their father and not get lost in the underwater kingdom.
The babies grow up rapidly, gaining about 100 grams in weight and adding about 5 cm in length over a month. Small fish begin to eat like predators at a weekly age, and then they gain their independence. First, their diet consists of plankton and small invertebrates, and a little later small fish and other prey appear in it.
Parents still for about three months still observe the life of their offspring and help them in every possible way, which is not very characteristic of fish behavior. Scientists attribute this to the fact that children do not immediately have the ability to breathe with the help of atmospheric air, and caring parents teach them later. It is not known for certain how many arapayms live in the wild. Scientists suggest that their life expectancy in the natural environment is from 8 to 10 years, they are based on the fact that in captivity fish live from 10 to 12 years.
Natural enemies arapime
Photo: Arapayma River
It is not surprising that such a colossus as arapaima, in natural conditions, has practically no enemies. The size of the fish, indeed, is enormous, and its armor is simply impenetrable, even piranhas bypass this hulk, because they are not able to cope with its thick scales. Eyewitnesses claim that sometimes alligators hunt for arapime, but they do it infrequently, although the data regarding this information is not confirmed.
The most insidious enemy of arapaima can be considered a person who has been hunting for giantess-fish for many centuries. The Indians living in Amazonia considered and still consider this fish to be the main foodstuff. They developed a tactic for her capture long ago: people discovered arapaima by her noisy breath, after which they were caught using the net or harpooned.
Fish meat is very tasty and nutritious, in South America it is very expensive. Even the ban on arapaime fishing does not stop many local fishermen. Indians use fish bones for medical purposes, as well as make dishes from them. From fish scales, excellent nail files are obtained, which are incredibly popular among tourists. In our time, too large specimens of arapaims are considered a rarity, all due to the fact that for many centuries the Indians uncheckedly caught the largest and most weighty individuals.
Population and species status
Photo: What arapime looks like
The population of arapaime has recently declined significantly. The systematic and uncontrolled catch of fish, for the most part, with the help of nets, has led to the fact that over the past century the number of fish has gradually decreased. The most bulky specimens, which were considered an enviable trophy and mined with great greed, were especially affected.
Now in the Amazon region to meet fish exceeding two meters in length is a rarity. In some regions, a ban on catching arapimes has been introduced, but this does not stop poachers who seek to sell fish meat, which is not cheap. Local fishing Indians continue hunting for big fish, as From time immemorial used to eat its meat for food.
The huge and ancient arapaime fish is still poorly studied, and there is no specific and accurate information on the number of its livestock. Even the fact that the number of fish has decreased, the assumption is based only on the number of large specimens, which began to come across very rarely. IUCN is still not able to classify this fish in any protected category.
To date, arapime has been given the ambiguous status of "insufficient data." Many environmental organizations claim that this relict fish needs special protective measures, which are taken by the authorities of some states.
Photo: Arapaima from the Red Book
As already mentioned, large specimens of arapaimes became extremely rare, which is why even closer to the end of the sixties of the last century the authorities of individual Latin American states included this fish in the Red Books in their territories and took special protective measures to preserve this unique, prehistoric, fish person.
Arapaima is not only a gastronomic interest, but it is very valuable for biologists and zoologists, as an ancient, relict species that has survived to our days from the time of the dinosaurs. Moreover, fish is still very little studied. So, in some countries there is a strict ban on catching arapaimes, and in those places where the number of fish is quite large, fishing is allowed, but with a certain license, special permission and in limited quantities.
Some Brazilian farmers breed arapaima in captivity using a special technique. They do this with the permission of the authorities and in order to increase the number of fish stock. Such methods are successful, and in the future it is planned to grow more fish in captivity so that the market is filled with its meat, and arapaime living in the wild did not suffer from this and continued its prosperous life for many millions more years.
Summing up, I want to add that mother nature does not get tired of surprising us, preserving such amazing and ancient creatures as arapaima. Amazingly, this fossil fish lived next door to dinosaurs. Looking at arapaima, evaluating its impressive size, you can not help imagine what huge giant animals inhabited our planet many millions of years ago!