The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche (Arapaima) is a genus of bonytongue native to the Amazon River in Brazil. They are the largest freshwater fish of South America. Arapaima can reach lengths of more than 2 m (6 ft 7 in), in some exceptional cases even more than 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) and over 100 kg (220 lb). The maximum recorded weight for the species is 200 kg (440 lb).
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 onsequently, large arapaima of more than 2 m (6 ft 7 in) are seldom found in the wild today. The arapaima is torpedo-shaped with large blackish-green scales and red markings. It is streamlined and sleek, with its dorsal and anal fin set back near its tail. Its local name, paiche, derives from the indigenous words for "red" and "fish".
Fishing. 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 boneless 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).