The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche are any large species of bonytongue in the genus Arapaima native to the Amazon and Essequibo basins of South America. Genus Arapaima is the type genus of the family Arapaimidae.[1][2] They are among the worlds largest freshwater fish, reaching as much as 3 m (9.8 ft).[1] They are an important food fish. They have declined in the native range due to overfishing and habitat loss[citation needed]. In contrast, arapaima have been introduced to several tropical regions outside the native range (within South America and elsewhere) where they are sometimes considered invasive species.[3] Its local name, pirarucu, derives from the indigenous words for pira meaning fish and urucum meaning red.Arapaima was traditionally regarded as a monotypic genus, but later several species were distinguished.[2][4][5] As a consequence of this taxonomic confusion, most earlier studies were done using the name A. gigas, but this species is only known from old museum specimens and the exact native range is unclear. The regularly seen and studied species is A. arapaima,[4][5][6] although a small number of A. leptosoma also have been recorded in the aquarium trade.[7] The remaining species are virtually unknown: A. agassizii from old detailed drawings (the type specimen itself was lost during World War II bombings) and A. mapae from the type specimen.[2][4][5] A. arapaima is relatively thickset compared to the remaining species.[4][5]


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