It’s been called a “river monster,” and for good reason. The arapaima (Arapaima gigas) is a freshwater fish that can grow longer than a horse and weigh up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds). The species lives in the waters that snake through the Amazon lowlands. But a couple of months ago, the rotting body of an arapaima washed ashore in south Florida, thousands of kilometers from its native territory. In a statement provided to Mongabay, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said the arapaima had washed ashore from the Caloosahatchee River, which runs into the Gulf of Mexico, in February. Matthew Neilson, a fishery biologist who works at the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, said there was no possibility the fish had traveled here on its own. The more likely explanation was that it had been dumped by an aquarium owner. Photo by Jeff Kubina/Flickr, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. “Release from aquarium owners or from the pet trade is fairly common,” Neilson told Mongabay in an interview. “These are fish that will pop out at a very, very large size. The maximum length is almost 3 meters long, so you know, close to 10 feet, and close to 400 pounds at maximum size. Most people don’t have the facilities at home to be able to handle an organism of that size.” It’s unclear why the arapaima died, but cold water may have been the culprit, Neilson said. Arapaimas can only tolerate water temperatures above…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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