The black arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai) is a South American freshwater bony fish of the family Osteoglossidae. Black arowanas are sometimes kept in aquariums, but they are predatory and require a very large tank. It is generally common, but large numbers are caught as food and for the aquarium fish trade.
Range and habitat
The black arowana is native to tropical South America where restricted to the Rio Negro basin, including the Branco River. Black arowanas were discovered in the 1970s in the Orinoco basins, but whether this is a natural population or the result of introductions by humans is disputed.
It is essentially a sedentary (non-migratory) species of blackwater habitats. During the dry season it mostly inhabits backwaters, marginal lagoons and small tributaries, but it is often seen in flooded forests during the high water season.
The black arowana has an elongated body and a tapered tail. Their maximum total length is typically considered to be 0.9 m (3.0 ft), but there are reports of individuals up to 1.2 m (3.9 ft). The juveniles are black with yellow markings down the length of the body, head and the tail. Once it reaches about 15 cm (0.5 ft), the markings disappear and the fish will develop a dark iridescent steel grey to blue coloration, hence its common name. Additionally, there are yellow and red outlining or the dorsal, caudal and tail fins. In contrast to the juveniles, adults are very similar to the silver arowana (O. bicirrhosum), but the two species can be separated by meristics.
South American arowanas are sometimes called water monkey or the monkey fish, because they can jump out of the water to capture their prey. They usually swim near the water surface looking for food. Although it has been known to eat larger prey like small bats and small monkeys, their main diets consist of shrimps, insects, smaller fishes and other animals that float on the water surface, on which its draw-bridge-like mouth is exclusively adapted for feeding.
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- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2017). "Osteoglossum ferreirai" in FishBase. October 2017 version.
- Escobar; Farias; Taphorn; Landines; and Hrbek (2013). "Molecular diagnosis of the arowanas Osteoglossum ferreirai Kanazawa, 1966 and O. bicirrhossum (Cuvier, 1829) from the Orinoco and Amazon River basins". Neotrop. Ichthyol. 11 (2): 335–340. doi:10.1590/S1679-62252013000200011.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Schofield, P.J.; L.G. Nico; P.L. Fuller; W.F. Loftus; and M. Neilson (6 August 2013). "Osteoglossum bicirrhosum". U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Retrieved 25 October 2017.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Mikula, P. 2015: Fish and amphibians as bat predators. European Journal of Ecology 1 (1): 71-80. doi: 10.1515/eje-2015-0010
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