Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
The Piraíba is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world. It lives in South America, in the Amazon River and the Orinoco River, and other brackish waters, as well as in Argentina, Brazil and The Guianas. Its common length as an adult is 1.2 metres, but records show that the largest specimen was a male 3.8m long. The heaviest Piraíba was measured to weigh 200kg.
The Piraíba's senses are effective for use in the dark, murky waters it lives in, especially when hunting. It has poor sight and hearing. However, it has extremely effective touch, so effective that it can in fact locate prey simply by feeling vibrations in the water. Smell is linked to the fact that its entire body is covered in taste buds. Although a very wide variety of prey has been found in the Paraíba's stomach, it will actually use its skin-borne taste buds to taste its prey from a distance, and can reject potential prey before even attacking.
The Piraíba is a piscivore, feeding mostly on other fish, including others of its own species. However, due to some individuals' exceptional size, it would not be uncommon for them to feed on a variety of other animals. Specimens have eaten prey including rodents, birds, dogs, cats, snakes and amphibians. Stomach studies have also found remains of monkeys, and confirmed that the Piraíba has fed on humans, though most scientists agree that those eaten were scavenged. As with other catfish, the Paraíba uses taste and whisker-like barbels to detect the vibration of prey. Despite its wide range of prey, it is a taste-discriminate predator.