Osteoglossiformes – Bonytongues

Their name derived from their distinctive toothed bones in the lower jaw and tongue

This order includes several families of fish found in various tropical regions around the world, showcasing a wide range of sizes, behaviors, and ecological adaptations. Osteoglossiformes are primarily characterized by their bony tongues, equipped with teeth and a well-developed set of teeth on the roof of the mouth. This unique anatomical feature aids in their feeding mechanism. They typically have elongated bodies, large scales, and long dorsal fins, contributing to their prehistoric appearance.

Fish in this order inhabit a variety of freshwater environments, including rivers, lakes, and floodplains. Their distribution spans across South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia, each adapting uniquely to their local ecological conditions. For instance, the Arapaima has adapted to the seasonally flooded forests of the Amazon, while the Asian Arowana is typically found in the blackwater rivers of Southeast Asia.

Bonytongues are generally carnivorous, feeding on fish, insects, and occasionally birds and small mammals. Some species exhibit remarkable hunting techniques, such as the Arapaima, which can leap out of water to catch prey. Parental care is also a notable behavior among some species, like the mouthbrooding seen in the Asian Arowana, where males carry the eggs in their mouths to protect them until they hatch.

Throughout their range, many Osteoglossiformes species hold significant cultural value. In Asia and parts of Africa, certain species are believed to bring good luck and prosperity and are thus highly sought after in the aquarium trade. In the Amazon, the Arapaima is integral to local fisheries and is also a key species in eco-tourism.