Beauty Of Animals | Arapaima | The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche (Arapaima gigas) is a South American tropical freshwater fish. It is a living fossil and one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world. Arapaima can reach lengths of more than 2 m (6.6 ft), in some exceptional cases even more than 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and over 100 kg (220 lbs).
The often cited maximum length of 4.5 m (14.8 ft) comes from a single second-hand-report from the first half of the nineteenth century, and is not confirmed. The maximum-cited weight for the species is 200 kg (440 lbs). As one of the most sought after food fish species in South America, it is often captured primarily by handheld nets for export, by spearfishing for local consumption, and, consequently, large arapaima of more than 2 m are seldom found in the wild today.
Commercial fishing of the arapaima has been banned by the Brazilian government due to its commercial extinction. Fishing is allowed only in certain remote areas of the Amazon basin, and must be catch-and-release, or harvesting by native peoples for consumption. Because the arapaima produces "large, boneless fish steaks", it is considered a delicacy; some 7000 tons per year were taken from 1918 to 1924, the height of its commercial fishing. The demand for the arapaima has led to farming of the fish by the "ribeirinhos" (as Brazilians call those living on the riverbanks).
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