Also known as the Arapaima, the Pirarucu is one of the largest, if not the largest, freshwater fish in the world. It is indigenous to the Amazonian rainforest and it lurks in its river, lakes, and swamps. In these conditions, adult Pirarucu fish can reach up to 3m in length and can weigh over 200kg.
This interesting looking fish is torpedo-shaped from the profile, with the long and narrow front and the flat and wide rear. The hard outer layer of their scales with the tough internal collagen layers give their skin great both great strength and flexibility. This is one of the reasons why their leather is in such demand.
The Pirarucu is an air-breather, which means it comes to the surface to inhale air with its mouth. Thanks to this ability, it can lurk in oxygen-poor waters preying on slow fish there. However, the fact that they often come to the surface also makes Pirarucu vulnerable to fishermen who can’t wait to take the opportunity.
Pirarucu fish diet
When it comes to the diet, the Pirarucu are carnivorous and their diet consists of other fish and small animals that that find themselves near the surface. They have bony tongues studded with teeth that allow them to crush prey. The tongue of the Pirarucu also carries some sort of a mystery with it. Locals in South America consider it to have medical effects, especially with intestinal worms.
The species was becoming endangered due to its taste and strong and beautiful leather. However Brazil implemented regulations to manage the fishing for this fish. With the system of community-based schemes, the population increased up to 50% annually. By doing this, the Pirarucu remains preserved and there’s still room to profit from fishing it under regulations.
The Pirarucu is also an inhabitant of many aquariums. It’s amazing to see the fish of this scale even out of its natural habitat.