You are currently viewing 9 largest freshwater fish in the World

9 largest freshwater fish in the World


Freshwater ecosystems are home to a diverse range of aquatic animals, including some truly remarkable species of fish. From massive giants that can grow to astonishing sizes, to  tiny creatures that are barely visible to human eyes. With their unique and fascinating adaptations, the world’s largest freshwater fish never fails to captivate our imagination. Even though there are numerous large water bodies, in this article, we will explore the top 9 largest freshwater fish in the world, shedding light on their characteristics and habitats.

9 largest freshwater fish in the World

Arapaima (Arapaima gigas):

Native to the Amazon River basin in South America, the Arapaima is one of the largest and oldest freshwater fish species on Earth, or in this case, in freshwater. Also known as pirarucu in Brazil and paiche in Peru, arapaima has an elongated body and powerful jaws. Its lengths can be up to 10 feet (3 metres) and its weight over 400 pounds (180 kilograms).

The arapaima has been around since the Miocene, and have adapted to survive in oxygen-poor waters by possessing a specialised labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe air. This gives them an edge over other fish since they’re capable of surviving up to 24 hours outside water.

Formerly, the Arapaimas were capable of growing up to 10 feets in length and weigh up to 300 pounds, but due to overfishing and exposure to water pollutants, they now grow only about 6 feets and 275 pounds. Still big!

Mekong Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas):

A good number of catfish naturally have the tendency of growing big, but none comes close to the Mekong Giant Catfish. Originally from the Southeast Asia’s Mekong River basin, this colossal catfish holds the title for being one of the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. Growing up to 10 feet (3 meters) long and weighing over 600 pounds (272 kilograms). Its size captivates the attention of many fishermen, and for this reason it is an endangered species due to habitat loss and overfishing.

Largest freshwater fish in the World

Nile Perch (Lates niloticus):

Originally from Africa’s Nile River system but now introduced into various lakes across Africa, including Lake Victoria, the Nile Perch is the continent’s largest freshwater fish and formidable predator known for its impressive size. It can reach lengths exceeding 6 feet (2 meters) and weigh up to 440 pounds (200 kilograms).

Due to its high demand amongst fishermen, the Nile perch has become invasive, tragically displacing over 200 native species in lake Victoria.

Giant Freshwater Stingray (Himantura polylepis):

Inhabiting rivers throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Malaysia, this enigmatic creature is not only one of the largest freshwater fish but also possesses a unique appearance with its disc-shaped body and long tail. It can grow to over 16 feet (5 meters) in length and weigh more than 1,300 pounds (600 kilograms).

The stingray is so large that it has been reported to have pulled boats up and down the rivers. Given its size of half a school bus, there’s no doubt the possibility of the allegations. Consequently, its size made it a sought after fish, bringing it to near extinction due to overfishing and habitat loss.

Giant Snakehead (Channa micropeltes):

Channa or toman harimau is native to Southeast Asia India precisely. This unique looking giant fish with a snake-like head is a fearsome predator that can reach lengths of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) and weigh over 50 pounds (23 kilograms). Its aggressive nature and ability to breathe air allow it to survive in oxygen-depleted waters. Overtime, it has been introduced elsewhere and is regarded as invasive.

Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula):

The alligator gar has a dual row of large teeth, which could have been larger than normal for regular fish, well guess there’s nothing regular about these fearful looking carnivorous creatures.

Found in North America’s freshwater systems, particularly in the Mississippi River basin, the Alligator Gar is a prehistoric-looking fish known for its long snout like that of an alligator . It can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) long and weigh over 300 pounds (136 kilograms).

With the ability to swim near the surface, stalk and ambush its prey, the alligator gar has only a few predators to take on it. Little wonder it can live up to 50 years.

Largest freshwater fish in the World

Freshwater Sawfish (Pristis microdon):

With its distinctive saw-like rostrum lined with sharp teeth, the Freshwater Sawfish is the largest sawfish species under the family pristidea. It inhabits both tropical and subtropical coastal regions and also in freshwater. It is found in northern Australia and Southeast Asia and can grow up to 18 feet (5.5 metres) long, it is one of the largest freshwater fish species.

Wels Catfish (Silurus glanis):

Also known as sheatfish or Wels for short, this giant catfish is native to central, southern and eastern Europe’s rivers and lakes, particularly the Danube River system. The Wels Catfish is a massive predator that can reach lengths exceeding 13 feet (4 meters) and weighs over 330 pounds (150 kilograms). Known for its voracious appetite, it feeds on a variety of prey including other fish.

It was introduced to other parts of Europe as a prized sports fish and can now be found near Kazakhstan, China, south Turkey and Greece.

Taimen (Hucho taimen):

Siberian taimen or Siberian salmon is a salmon-like ray finned fish inhabiting rivers across Siberia and Mongolia. It is one of the largest salmonid species in the world of the genus Hucho. It can grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) long and weigh over 200 pounds (90 kilograms), making it an impressive sight for anglers, nature enthusiasts and a prized catch for fishermen.

Largest freshwater fish in the World

These 9 largest freshwater fish species highlight the incredible diversity and adaptability of aquatic life and the world we live in. From the depths of the Amazon to the rivers of Southeast Asia and the banks of Africa, these giants remind us of the wonders that lie beneath the surface of our planet’s freshwater ecosystem and a reason to conserve our environment.

Emmanuella Koughna

Born with an innate gift of storytelling, Koughna Emmanuella has engraved her name on the minds of her audience by seamlessly blending profound insights with captivating prose. Over the course of four years, each of her work has been a testament of mastery of language and an ability to plumb the depths of human emotion, weaving intricate tapestries that resonate with readers across the globe. In her free time, she volunteers with animal shelters in her locality where they cater to homeless pets and other animals who need care. She also enjoys traveling, reading, and karaoke.

Leave a Reply