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Osteoglossum bicirrhosum.JPG
Osteoglossum bicirrhosum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Osteoglossidae
Genus: Osteoglossum
Cuvier, 1829

2, see text

Osteoglossum is a genus of fish in the family Osteoglossidae. They reach about 1 m (3.3 ft) in length and are restricted to freshwater habitats in tropical South America.[1][2]

These predators mostly feed on arthropods like insects and spiders, but may also take small vertebrates such as other fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, mice, bats and small birds.[3][4] They jump up to 2 m (6.6 ft) out of the water to pick the prey off branches, tree trunks or foliage, which has earned them the local name "water monkeys".[3] They are the largest fish in the world that catch most of their food out of water.[3] When breeding, the male protects the eggs and young by carrying them in the mouth.[1][5]

They are sometimes kept in aquariums, but they are predatory and require a very large tank.[5]


There are two species:[2]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Osteoglossum bicirrhosum.JPG Osteoglossum bicirrhosum Cuvier (ex Vandelli), 1829 Silver arowana Amazon, Essequibo and Oyapock basins
Osteoglossum ferreira - Zoo Frankfurt 1.jpg Osteoglossum ferreirai Kanazawa, 1966 Black arowana Rio Negro basin, including the Branco River


  1. ^ a b Olivares; Hrbek; Escobar; Caballero (2013). "Population structure of the black arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai) in Brazil and Colombia: implications for its management". Conserv. Genet. 14 (3): 695–703. doi:10.1007/s10592-013-0463-1.
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2017). Species of Osteoglossum in FishBase. February 2017 version.
  3. ^ a b c Carvalho, L.N.; J. Zuanon; I. Sazima (2007). "Natural history of Amazon fishes". In Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (ed.). Tropical Biology and Natural Resources Theme. 1. Eolss Publishers, Oxford. pp. 1–24.
  4. ^ Julia Tovar Verba; Manoela Lima de Oliveira Borges; Maria Nazareth Ferreira da Silva; Lorena Costa Pinto; José Gurgel Rabello Neto (2018). "Mice on menu: opportunistic feeding behaviour of the Amazonian silver arowana Osteoglossum bicirrhosum". Journal of Fish Biology. 93 (1). doi:10.1111/jfb.13665.
  5. ^ a b Hill, N. (13 June 2016). "Predators: South American Arowana". Practical Fishkeeping. Retrieved 25 October 2017.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)