Few questions on Arapaima.

Roberto G

Plecostomus
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Mar 12, 2008
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Hello MFK!

First of all, please don't turn this into a "why did you bought an arapaima in the first place?" kinda thread.
This is my first arapaima but not my first monster fish, I've kept south-american and jardini arowanas before as well as some big catfish, so I have a slight idea of what I'm getting into by purchasing this fish.

Second, the fish is on a growout tank, I know most of you will say or think something like "a tank isn't how you should keep your pima" or "this guy will just run to the LFS soon". But don't worry MFK, there's already a small lake prepared for this monster to take over eventually, the main reason of me having this fish on an aquarium is so I can control what it eats, I can also see easier if there's any infection or damage to the fish, and last but not least, I'll be able to medicate in case there's a need... Also... Let's be real for a second, a fish this size won't last long outdoors without being victim of something larger.

Now, having said that, I'm creating this thread since there's little to no information at all about baby arapaima keeping. I've seen a lot of posts here on MFK that get abandoned really quick, which makes me think some of you have had dead pimas on your tanks, or you just gave up on your project and ended up selling or giving away your fish!

I know there's a handful of people who are able to breed and keep this fish in large numbers since birth, but how about us who just wanna have ONE arapaima instead of 50? Is there really enough information out there on keeping this fishes in an aquarium on early stages of life? Is arapaima REALLY a fish you just CAN'T have in an aquarium regarding it's size?

I know some of you are willing to provide as much info as you can, but the main purpose of this thread is for people who were able to keep a baby arapaima in a tank for a while to talk about their experiences and enlighten us who are brave (and maybe crazy) enough to buy one of this cute little baby monsters.

So I'm gonna drop my first big question... What's the normal behavior of a baby arapaima in an aquarium? Should it be calm and just chilling around? Or should it be very active and swimming from one end to the other of the aquarium ALL DAY LONG?

I'll add a small video I just took of the baby arapaima in it's tank. So you can see it as live as it gets and analyse if it's presenting a normal behavior or if it's just an stressed fish.


Thanks for reading this thread!
 
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MHDevelopments

Polypterus
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Very interesting thread you've started, I shall be following.

Could you post some pics of the lake that the Pima will be going into once it's big enough, again, just interested!
 

Betta132

Jack Dempsey
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Oh no, it's adorable! It's so small! Does it already have the hard head?
Definitely give him more cover, and maybe some little ghost shrimp to stalk. Shrimp seem to be a favorite entertainment-type prey item for a lot of fish.
I don't think fry of any sort are ever very calm, most of them wiggle around a lot. Some of that does look like confusion, so he might still be adjusting and trying to figure out where he is and why he can't swim through the glass, but he doesn't look outright stressed. Just be sure the tank is covered incredibly well, he looks like he'd probably make it really far if he managed to jump out.

I see no reason why you can't keep a baby arapima in a tank. Past a certain size, I'd worry about them breaking the glass with their big bone heads, but an eeny baby like that is clearly safer indoors than outside with the predators.
 

Roberto G

Plecostomus
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Oh no, it's adorable! It's so small! Does it already have the hard head?
Definitely give him more cover, and maybe some little ghost shrimp to stalk. Shrimp seem to be a favorite entertainment-type prey item for a lot of fish.
I don't think fry of any sort are ever very calm, most of them wiggle around a lot. Some of that does look like confusion, so he might still be adjusting and trying to figure out where he is and why he can't swim through the glass, but he doesn't look outright stressed. Just be sure the tank is covered incredibly well, he looks like he'd probably make it really far if he managed to jump out.

I see no reason why you can't keep a baby arapima in a tank. Past a certain size, I'd worry about them breaking the glass with their big bone heads, but an eeny baby like that is clearly safer indoors than outside with the predators.
I covered all sides except the front (obviously) and now I can see a lot of improvement on the arapaima, it was an immediate effect. I'll see if I can get some shrimp, I'm currently using small life fish (which I already gave quarantine to) as food, the fish are being gut fed with Hikari Top Predator Food Sticks.

Also, I think I missed a very important fact on the first post, this baby arapaima is captive bred, I think it came from a farm in Ecuador, they were brought to Costa Rica under a fish meat permission (since I guess that's the only way you can legally obtain this animals), they're not gonna be used for meat. So as I understand, the fact that this fish came from a breeding facility makes them more sturdy fish.

Thanks to the ones who have answered!
 
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Roberto G

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Ok, so I've noticed that baby Arapaima are just crazy active. They never stop swimming from one end to the tank to the other. It may seem as if they're stressed, but that's just how they behave. Regarding feeding, I'm starting to think that at this stage of their life it's better to just fill the tank with a lot of live food (Fishes, shrimp) since they feed almost based on pure hunting instinct and not because they're really hungry (like a cichlid or so), so you NEED to have something MOVING around them in order to trigger this feeding response, otherwise I doubt that your baby Arapaima will eat. As of amount of food, don't bother trying to regulate how much the baby eats, just fill the tank with live food and your baby will eat like crazy until it runs out.

I've seen a lot of "in the wild" videos of baby arapaima and what they do is swim like crazy close to their parents all they long, parents take their babies to heavily planted parts of the river and babies go bananas feeding on whatever is moving, It's very important to simulate this type of feeding in captivity, that's why free roaming live fish is fundamental.

Now, here's another question, at what age or size do you think it's best to switch from live to prepared foods such as sticks, frozen shrimp or chicken liver? I've been gut feeding my feeder fish with sticks while on the baby arapaima's tank, some times a stick passes very close to the arapaima and this triggers it's feeding response, but once the arapaima attacks the stick, it just throws it back, I'm hoping it's because it's not moving as the feeder fish, and not because it doesn't like sticks.

I'll clearly have to starve the arapaima for a while so it'll start accepting food sticks, the good thing is it's belly is always full with feeders, so I'm hoping the baby will gain some weight before I start the starvation process.

Any comments?
 
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wednesday13

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Start offering pellets every day even if he refuses, remove the uneaten after a while ...hell figure it out eventually... Most young pima die because they are not fed enough. They have a very fast metabolism at this size and thats y some consider them fragile. My pair accepted sinking pellets immediatly and id feed them 2-3 times a day. Grew them from the size of urs to 28" and 30" in less than 6 months on pellets. Super active fish and very rewarding to watch grow so quickly. good luck! Cute at this size... they start gettin scary as they grow lol... Very smart/aware specimen.... once they know u have food theyll follow u around as would any other "wet pet". Sooner u get ur guy on pellets the better, shouldnt b as hard as u think considering it was probably farm raised.
 

Roberto G

Plecostomus
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Mar 12, 2008
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I guess all arapaima experts aren't around MFK now... Anyways, here's some full-bellied shots for you guys!
7cae767c-283f-4c9f-8b50-8b591b4ccca0.jpg 1722591d-f500-43fa-bb3e-02bf22e3c588.jpg ac0205d1-9397-4c01-99fe-38a7b3274eef.jpg
 
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