Largest freshwater fish
Since the end of July, arapaima have inhabited aquariums at three zoos in the Netherlands: Dierenpark Emmen, Artis and Diergaarde Blijdorp. The fish were confiscated from a Dutch importer who didn’t have the right documents.
The Arapaima is the world’s largest freshwater fish. Though the confiscated specimens are now about 30 centimetres long, they could eventually reach two to three metres in length and weigh approximately 200 kilos. Their size and their tasty flesh make these natives to South America’s Amazon region a popular catch, so the arapaima has become critically endangered and is listed as a protected species.
In the Amazon, the arapaima lives in small lakes formed when a river loop is cut off and separated from fresh, oxygen-rich water. The arapaima can thrive in these lakes due to its ability to use the oxygen in a mouthful of air. Fish of other species, weakened in the deoxygenated water, become easy prey.
The photo shows an arapaima in the Berlin Zoo Aquarium.