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Piraiba, 72 lbs. 5 ft. to fork of tail See More Piraiba Pictures >>
Animal Planet/DCL

By Jeremy Wade

Where They Are Found: Rio Teles Pires, Brazil

Wild and rocky, with huge rapids and deep pools. Flows into Amazon River, then Atlantic Ocean

A Very Rare Fish

Piraiba are now very rare in the Amazon system. They used to be caught using multiple drifting floats, with the fisherman accompanying these downstream. Or on longlines – ropes set along the bottom, with short lines carrying baited hooks every few feet. But extraction by these means was not sustainable, even in a waterway this vast.

So they are now a rarity, and they are also sought after because of their great strength. It’s widely seen as the toughest adversary an Amazon fisherman can face. (Pound for pound, the nut-crunching tambaqui is undoubtedly stronger, but doesn’t grow anywhere near as big.)

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