They are among the largest freshwater fish, and they can weigh up to 440 pounds (200 kg). These Amazon River basin fish are called pirarucus (Arapaima gigas).

Pirarucus have gills, but they need to supplement their oxygen by coming to the surface every 5 to 15 minutes to gulp air. For that reason, they spend most of their time in warm, shallow waters. Although they are native to Brazil, Guyana, and Peru, they have been introduced to areas of East Asia for fishing. The fact that they surface for air every few minutes has made them vulnerable to over-fishing. Their population is probably declining, but it’s extremely difficult to get an accurate count, so Brazil has banned fishing for them.

Although it is difficult to tell how long these fish live in the wild, their average life-span in captivity is 15-20 years. They lay their eggs in a nest constructed by both parents in a lake or river. The male protects the eggs for about three months.

Pirarucus are another part of the vast variety of wildlife in the Amazon basin, an important part of the global ecology that God has created.
© Roland Earnst

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