The Arapaima, or Arapaima gigas, the largest freshwater fish in the world! They can grow up to 15 feet long when full grown!

The Arapaima lives in South America among Freshwater Stingrays, Black Pacu, and Arawana in the Amazon River, the largest river basin in the world! This basin covers approximately 2,720,000 square miles, which is about 40% of South America!

They feed on small fishes and other creatures that can be found lurking in the murky water. Arapaima build large nests for their young between April and May and then guard the eggs and young until they can fend for themselves.

These fish are obligate air breathers which means they need to come up to the surface to inhale the oxygen rich air directly. The Arapaima does this rather noisily making a large slapping sound!

Meet Opo


Opo was originally purchased illegally by a Florida resident. At first, a private 500-gallon fish tank was large enough to hold him, but it didn't take long before Opo had grown to be about 75 pounds! With one swipe of his tail, Opo shattered the glass of his home aquarium. Because Arapaima have a labyrinth organ, or “make shift lung,” they are able to gulp air from the surface, and Opo was able to breathe until his owner temporarily put him in the bath tub. It was at that point that he was considered too large to live in a private residence.

Opo is now a permanent resident within a 180,000 gallon freshwater tank at SEA LIFE Minnesota, and is currently the only Arapaima that you can see on display in the upper Midwest! When he swims overhead, guests may notice a scar on his underside, from when he broke out of the aquarium in Florida. We are lucky that Opo survived as a household pet, so that our guests at the aquarium can see this exotic species up close, and watch him grow!

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