This open-plan 24,000-gallon ( 91,000-
liter) exhibit with just a couple of dead
trees and stone-faced walls offered the large
fish in this display the maximum amount
of swimming room. The imposingly large
arapaima, with their fancy reddish-colored
tails, cruised the upper waters while red-bellied pacu (Piaractus brachypomus)
preferred the middle waters.
The sandy bottom was home to red-hump
eartheaters (Geophagus steindachneri),
sailfin pimeloids (Leiarius marmoratus), and
a few others. The large, heavy-bodied redtail
catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)
rested on the substrate in the daytime, but
during the night, they were also up in the
water column swimming actively. All of
this made for an imposing yet interesting
exhibit that could also be taken in from the
The 10,600-gallon ( 40,000-liter)
arowana feature, with its base of white
sand and stacks of trunks and branches
on each corner, offered plenty of open-
water area for the top-swimming silver
arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) and
black arowana (O. ferreirai). However, it
was the large number of free-swimming
colorful tucunare peacock bass (Cichla
monoculus) and Semaprochilodus laticeps
swimming in the water column that drew
me to this feature.
Sailfin plecos (Pterygoplichthys
gibbiceps) were visible on the substrate,
while larger ripsaw catfish (Oxydoras
niger) could be seen resting among
the tree trunks. A few white-blotched
stingrays (Potamotrygon leopoldi) were
well camouflaged as they lay motionless,
half-buried in the white sand.
Feeding time at the Malawi Cichlids display.
A redtail catfish rests on the sandy bottom of the Arapaima tank.