Pirarucu is the largest freshwater fish in the world and can grow up to be 4 m in length and weigh up to 200 kg. At Kagoshima City Aquarium, there are 16 of them, their size ranging from 1.2m to 2m. In the local language, “pira” means fish and “urucu” refers to a tree with red fruits. Its name comes from the combination of these two words.

It is a carnivorous fish and eats fish, shrimp, and many other creatures.

Most fish breathe with their gills, but piracuru’s air bladder functions like a lung for mammals, which allows them aerial respiration.  When it pops its mouth out of the water to take a breath, it’s an impressive view.

Near the Amazon, it is often captured excessively because it’s considered to be a high quality edible fish. As a result, it is on the verge of extinction.  It is listed on the red list of “The World Conservation Union”. “The Washington Convention” strictly regulates international trade as well.

In order to contribute to the aquaculture and conservation of pirarucu, here at Kagoshima Aquarium, we have dispatched our staff to the Amazon River to observe the spawning behaviors of pirarucu.

Compared to other fish species, pirarucu has been around for quite a while and its appearance has not changed for 100,000,000 years. It is sometimes called a “living fossil”.